Ghost Towns and Mines

 
 


Not a ghost town or a mine, but an odd and interesting site in the wilds of central Nevada. In 1968 an underground atomic test took place here, far outside of the Nevada Test Range where tests had previously been conducted. A nuclear bomb in the near-megaton range was detonated 3200 feet below the surface of the prairie. The earth heaved upward about 15 feet, then settled into a roughly circular depression some 3000 feet across.


Somewhere in the middle of the depression is a concrete-filled steel pipe over six feet in diameter, which sticks up eight feet above the ground. This was the shaft used to place the bomb. Prior to the blast, the top of the pipe was level with the surface of the ground. Unfortunately I missed this feature during my brief visit to the site.


It’s eerie to walk around at ground zero knowing there’s a radioactive cavern somewhere under your feet. There are strange-looking markers scattered across the site with signs warning against digging, drilling or removing soil. There are also some recently excavated catch-basins and several small concrete pads topped with bright red metal boxes. These apparently cover well casings from test bores used to monitor the conditions underground. I also saw solar powered instruments which apparently transmit data to some other location.


This detonation was to be the first in a series of four test blasts, however the first blast revealed or caused underground faulting that had been unexpected, and the remaining blasts were cancelled. Apparently the “emplacement holes” had already been created for two more of the planned tests. I found one of these a few miles south of the first site, capped by a large slab of concrete.


Here’s a link to more information about Project Faultless: http://www.atomictraveler.com/Faultless.pdf

More info:  http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/NV3134/


Updated August 2015.


On my return visit in 2015, I found the concrete-filled pipe that marks “ground zero”. The bomb was lowered 3200 feet down this pipe, and then it was filled with concrete prior to the blast.


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Project Faultless, NV