A new Hanford tour focusing on the life of settlers before the federal government took over their homes, businesses and farms for the secret Manhattan Project has been announced by the Department of Energy.
Registration will open at 8 a.m. May 12. Seats may be reserved for tours from late spring through the fall at www.hanford.gov, by calling 509-376-1647 or in person at the B Reactor Tour Headquarters, 2000 Logston Blvd., Richland.
Two other sets of Hanford tours this year have already been announced, and registration is open at the same website. Those tours cover Hanford environmental cleanup work and historic B Reactor.
With the completion of environmental cleanup on much of Hanford near the Columbia River, DOE now is expanding tours to give visitors a look at Hanford history before it was taken over by the federal government in World War II to create plutonium for an atomic bomb.
“These tours will showcase the hard work, innovation and perseverance of the families who lived here before the government’s occupation of the land,” said Colleen French, the DOE Hanford national park program manager. “Their struggles, accomplishments and, ultimately their loss of the land to the Manhattan Project effort, are an important part of the Hanford story.”
Much of what is included on the tour could be part of a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park with historic sites at Hanford, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M. All three sites contributed to the race in WWII to produce an atomic bomb amidst fears that Nazi Germany also was developing the technology.
The DOE tour offered this year will include a stop at the Bruggemann Warehouse not far from B Reactor. The reactor is expected to be the centerpiece of the new national park at Hanford.
The river-rock covered warehouse is the last structure from the large farm and orchard of the Bruggemann family before their property was seized for the Manhattan Project. Many settlers have said they were notified that they had only a month to pack up and leave, but were not told why their homes were needed for the war effort.
The tour will stop at the Hanford High School built in 1916 in the town of Hanford and the tiny White Bluffs Bank, the last remaining building in the town of White Bluffs. Sidewalks still make paths through the brush there.
Visitors will see the White Bluffs Ferry Crossing at the Columbia River and the head wall of the canal system that brought water to the family orchards and farms.
While at the canal, visitors also will have a peek at the 1908 Hanford Irrigation District Pump House, which raised river water more than 50 feet to start its flow into a canal.
The four-hour tour also will include some information on the environmental cleanup work being done at Hanford.
Participants may be citizens of any country, and children over the age of 12 can participate if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Two tours with 24 participants each will be held on May 26; June 2, 4, 16, and 17; July 2, 16 and 30; Aug. 13 and 27; Sept. 10 and 24; and Oct. 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21. Buses will leave from the B Reactor tour headquarters those days at times to be announced.