Operation Crossroads

Series of photos taken by German-born photographer Fritz Goro in July 1946 at Bikini Atoll (aka  coconut place) in the Pacific, when the United States conducted two atomic tests.

Able (an atmospheric explosion) and Baker (underwater), were among the very first of the more than 1,000 tests that the U.S. would eventually conduct in Nevada and the South Pacific over the next five decades.

A machine graphing the radioactivity broadcast by one of the nuclear explosions in the S. Pacific & Sailors shield their eyes during a nuclear test (photos above)

Among the sailors and other military personnel, scientists and hundreds of civilian observers, primarily members of the press, were on hand to witness the explosions and the resulting destruction, none of whom wore protective clothing of any kind.

Gathering up dead birds for radiation testing & Feeding a goat used as a test animal (above).

Scientists conducted countless tests to gauge the radiation exposure that resulted from the blasts and many animals were intentionally exposed to radiation during the tests but didn’t survive for more than a few days.

Taking a bomb of bacteria samples for radiation testing from the sack in which it was lowered from the USS Bracken (in the background) during nuclear testing &  The sign atop the Officers’ Club at the Bikini Atoll station (above).

Among those civilians observers was photographer Fritz Goro, who was with Operation Crossroads (as the July 1946 tests were collectively called) as an official observer. Goro died in 1986.
The effect on sailors and other military personnel who observed the tests has been debated for decades in US. A 1996 government study found that Crossroads veterans who had died appeared to have a lifespan three to four months shorter than a control group of similarly aged American non-veterans who had died.
All Goro’s photographs are from Time & Life  / Getty Images. Find more at  LIFE
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Vintage Atomic propaganda here

The Cactus Dome

“Beneath this concrete dome on Runit Island (part of Enewetak Atoll), built between 1977 and 1980 at a cost of about $239 million, lie 111,000 cubic yards (84,927 cubic meters) or radioactive soil and debris from Bikini and Rongelap atolls. The dome covers the 30-foot (9 meter) deep, 350-foot (107 meter) wide crated created by the May 5, 1958, Cactus test. Note the people atop the dome.” from the book “Atomic Audit“, by Brookings Institution.

via pruned

Bunker Living

Definitely not an inspiring designer, yet idiosyncratic enough, former Topeka high school teacher Ed Peden turned to real estate mogul specialized in selling off abandoned missile bases.

In 1982, Peden drove out to investigate a decommissioned nuclear missile bunker that was up for sale near his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. He found 34 acres of grass in need of mowing and, deep below ground, an 18,000-square-foot warren of concrete tunnels, most of it flooded with rainwater.

Peden stripped to his shorts and dropped a rope ladder into the flooded base. Most of the rooms were three-quarters flooded, and the water had stagnated for nearly two decades. Holding his nose to dive under doorways between the flooded rooms, Peden took his first tour of what would soon become his family home.

The entrance to the bay…
… where once the Atlas E missile was housed and stored horizontally. To ready the missile for firing, the bay’s roof was retracted and the missile lifted into a vertical position. It was then fueled and prepped for launch. This design didn’t last long, as it became apparent that too much time was lost preparing the missile for action.
Blueprint of an Atlas E missile bay.
Ed Peden’s tunnels lead to his living space, on the left, and into his cavernous garage, on the right.
A photograph of an Atlas E ICBM, the type of nuclear missile stored at Ed’s house in the ’60s, today domesticated and donwsized to a…
The upstairs dining room-where the diesels that powered the site used to live – is a gathering place for the Pedens and their friends lit with chandeliers, hung with delicate fabrics and covered in richly colored carpets.


The highlight of the house is the spiritual room, formerly the missile control room. Three men manned the controls 24/7 between 1961 and 1965. Now, very deliberately, it’s filled with spiritual artifacts from all over the world because of its “heavy energy.”

Notwithstanding the spiritual efforts of the Pedens and their friends, can’t stop wondering about their two daughters who grew up in the bunker, learning to ride their bikes on the extensive underground driveways…

Read the whole story herePhotos: Jim Merithew/Wired.com

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American vintage illustration  via scrap book