Nevada Test Site
The Nevada Test Site is a Rhode Island-sized testing ground northwest of Las Vegas where the U.S. conducted the majority of its nuclear weapons tests during the Cold War. From its founding in 1951 until the final Divider test in 1992, over 900 atomic explosions were detonated in this barren desert. In the 1950s, atomic tests were conducted above ground and resulted in devastating health effects to the "Downwinders" northeast of the site in Nevada and Utah. Since then, tests were conducted only underground, resulting in a pockmarked "lunar" landscape. The NTS is operated by the Department of Energy, which has become increasingly open about the site's history and its environmental problems. The NTS is bounded on three side by the Nellis Air Force Range and adjoins "Area 51" a secret military base at its northeast corner. Today, the Test Site is under consideration for various storage and processing projects for dangerous materials, and some non-nuclear and sub-critical explosions are still conducted there. [gc 12/5/96]
General InformationThe Nevada Proving Ground was created by Pres. Harry Truman on Jan. 11, 1951, and the first atomic test, Operation Ranger, was conducted on Jan. 27, 1951. The final nuclear test, Divider, was conducted on Sept. 23, 1992. In between, there were 99 above ground tests and over 800 below ground tests. The NTS is broken up into numbered areas of varying sizes, from 1 to 30, with the omission of Areas 13, 21, 24 and 28. (Area 13 is an off-site location in the Nellis Range north of Groom Lake.)
InformationThe Dept. of Energy conducts free all-day public tours of the Nevada Test Site. Tours are usually conducted quarterly, and you need to sign up in advance. Contact DOE at 702-295-0941.
For new links see our new Nevada Test Site page.