You don’t need to wait until the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park is open to learn the history of Hanford that helped shaped the Tri-Cities.
Kennewick Community Ed is offering new three classes this spring on the Manhattan Project’s comic — equivalent to Dilbert — the history of Hanford’s security force and efforts to save artifacts as Hanford’s buildings are rapidly torn down. It also is offering repeats of its popular walking tours of Richland’s “alphabet house” neighborhoods.
Community Ed coordinator Terry Andre hopes publicity about Hanford’s inclusion in the new national park will spark an interest in the site’s history.
Dupus Boomer, the cartoon creation of Dick Donnell, helped the people who came from across the nation to create plutonium at the secret nuclear reservation in the 1940s make light of their hardship. People bought the weekly paper to see what the comic character was up to, according to Community Ed.
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Government bureaucracy, traffic on George Washington Way and especially the blowing dust were fodder for the comics. “On a clear day you can see the new houses across the street,” Boomer says.
His first name, Dupus, was a mix of Hanford contractor Dupont and U.S., and Boomer referred to the boomtown that Richland had become.
Connie Estep, who is leading the class Comic Relief for Atomic Pioneers, was a curator for the former CREHST museum in Richland.
The class is offered from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 7 at the Kamiakin High School Library. Cost is $12.
The Legacy of the Hanford Patrol will trace the changes in the Hanford security forces over more than 70 years.
Bruce Cameron, training manager for the Hanford Patrol, will talk about the patrol’s role from the days that tens of thousands of workers arrived in the Eastern Washington desert during World War II, to the role of the patrol during the Korean War, the Cold War and the current era of environmental cleanup.
The class is offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 14 at the Kennewick High School Library. Cost is $12.
The third new class will look at Hanford’s Curation Services Program, which collects tangible elements of Hanford’s history to save them from a landfill as obsolete buildings are torn down.
Hanford archaeologist Thomas Marceau will discuss work to identify artifacts that have historic value or help tell the story of Hanford’s past. He’ll also address the challenges of working within a radiological setting and the importance of first-hand information.
The class is offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 23 at the Kamiakin High School Library. Cost is $15.
One of the three tours of the alphabet house neighborhoods is already filled and the other two are filling fast, Andre said.
Tour guide Richard Nordgren tells a social history as he guides walkers past government-built houses for workers at Hanford, she said. He has been instrumental in the research and documentation of the alphabet houses for the city of Richland and the application to the National Historic Register.
Much of the character of Richland can be traced to Spokane architect Gustav Albin Pehrson, who was asked to design a town for 6,500 people recruited to produce plutonium for the war effort. The homes and neighborhoods he designed were meant to be a respite from the strict military working conditions on site.
Workers were assigned to houses according to their jobs, with each model identified by a letter of the alphabet. Families of blue-collar workers lived in A and B houses, the duplexes that were the most commonly built.
But Pehrson put duplexes next to the D and E houses of top managers. He wanted janitors living next door to scientists.
His egalitarian principles were least successful in the Gold Coast stretch along the Columbia River, where DuPont wanted its senior people to live. They were the coolest in the pre-air conditioning era.
A tour of the Gold Coast neighborhood is offered from 9 to 11 a.m. May 16.
Also available is a tour of central Richland from 9 to 11 a.m. May 23. Central Richland has homes built from World War II through the Cold War.
Walking tours cost $12.
Register online at www.ksd.org/District/Programs-and-Learning/Community-Education or in person with cash or a check at Kennewick Community Education, 1000 W. Fourth Ave.