When Eisenhower ordered the atomic bomb dropped in 1945, little was truly understood about the complexities of such a massive weapon. Therefore, in 1951 a testing facility was orchestrated 65 miles away from the bright lights and vibrant casinos of downtown Las Vegas. For the first time, people arrived on the Strip not to gamble or venture down the well-lit street, but to witness a demonstration unlike any anywhere around the world. During the 1950s, people flocked to the city witness the colossal mushroom clouds that emerged from the Nevada Testing Site (NTS) until the operation moved underground once genuine fears emerged about the dangers of above-ground explosions. A mind-blowing 928 nuclear explosions took place in Las Vegas before the program ended in 1992.
With its focus on the history of the NTS and nuclear testing around the nation, the Atomic Testing Museum is located in Las Vegas approximately three miles from the Strip. The almost 10,000-square-foot building contains displays that include first-person narratives, interactive exhibits and artifacts from the Nevada Testing Site. Among these is an impressive chronicling of the atomic age—a time of optimism about nuclear energy—and its interesting influence on pop culture. Within the Atomic Testing Museum is the Silo Museum where visitors can watch a short film documenting the NTS. However, the most impressive stop in the Atomic Testing Museum is the Ground Zero Theater where visitors can experience a simulation of an actual test—complete with explosions of steam and shaking floors. — Nicole Ellul
Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119