Alamogordo Site of World's First Atomic Blast
By Sue Schuurman
JULY 20, 1998:
53 Years Ago This Week
On July 16, 1945, New Mexico won the dubious distinction of being the site of the world's first atomic bomb explosion. Americans in general and New Mexicans in particular were left in the dark concerning the nature of the blast, as is obvious from the Associated Press excerpt below. Still, not even the U.S. government could completely conceal such a huge test. The light from the bomb's one-mile diameter fireball was visible 400 miles away, the ominous mushroom cloud it created rose to 40,000 feet and a crater was left measuring a quarter mile in diameter. And as for the ground, the desert surface was fused into glass for a distance of 800 yards around the blast site. In other words, it was a smashing success.
"Alamogordo Base Explosives Blast Jolts Wide Area.
"Following a blast felt over hundreds of miles Monday morning, explosion of 'a considerable amount of high explosive and pyrotechnics' in a remote area of the Alamogordo air base reservation was reported by Col. William O. Eareckson, commandant.
"Although the blast rattled windows 235 miles away at Gallup in northwestern New Mexico, Col. Eareckson said there were no loss of life or injury to anyone.
"'Property damage outside of the explosives magazine itself was negligible,' the commandant reported.
"Reports from over the state listed the blast variously as an earthquake, meteor and air plane crash.
"Members of the crew and passengers aboard a Santa Fe railway train near Mountainair thought they saw a bomber explode and burn in the sky.
"So brilliant was the flash from the explosion Miss Georgia Green of Socorro, blind University of New Mexico student, exclaimed 'What's that.' ...
"The flash 'lighted up the sky like the sun,' (her brother-in-law Joe) Willis said. 'The light lasted several moments, followed by a large crimson light to the southeast. We drove down the road several minutes before we heard the explosion.' ...
"Eareckson's statement said 'weather conditions affecting the content of gas shells exploded by the blast may make it desirable for the Army to evacuate temporarily a few civilians from their homes.'
"There is a civilian area on the Alamogordo reservation."
--compiled by Susan Schuurman
Source: Albuquerque Journal;
July 17, 1945
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