The efforts of the Manhattan Project came to fruition in 1945. After years of research and experimentation, the world’s first nuclear device, the “Gadget,” was detonated in the New Mexico desert.
The Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, in the Jornada Del Muerto Desert, was chosen for its isolation and flat ground. There were very few people living near the Trinity site, and all were paid to leave their land when Manhattan Project officials began constructing the test facility.
At 5:30 a.m. on July 16, the nuclear device was successfully detonated.
To most observers—watching through dark glasses—the brilliance of the light from the explosion overshadowed the shock wave and sound that arrived some seconds later. A multi-colored cloud surged 38,000 feet into the air within seven minutes. Where the tower had been was a crater one-half mile across and eight feet deep.
Radiation levels at the site remain about 10 times as high as natural background radiation. After being closed to the public for many years, the Trinity Site was declared a National Historic Landmark district in 1965. It is now open to visitors twice a year.
Socorro, New Mexico. April 2018.