January, 1951: Nuclear Testing Begins At The Nevada Test Site

Established in January of 1951, the Nevada Test Site (NTS) became the main location for nuclear testing due to it being located in the middle of nowhere. With more than 1,360 square miles of untouched desert and mountainous terrain in the state of Nevada, the United States could conduct tests without fear of nuclear fallout, or so they thought. On the 27th of that month, testing began when a bomb with 1 kiloton of TNT was dropped on a location known as Frenchman Flat.

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Mushroom clouds could be seen from more than 100 miles in every direction. The flash of the explosion could be seen from as far as San Francisco. Most of the iconic photos of nuclear explosions seen today were taken at the NTS during the 1950’s. Surrounding cities like Las Vegas and St. George, Utah became flooded with tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the massive explosions and iconic mushroom clouds. Although it wasn’t all good things, from 1950-1980 it was reported that there had been a substantial increase in numerous types of cancer such as lymphoma, leukemia, thyroid, breast cancer, and many others. St. George received the major brunt due to winds that routinely carried the fallout in that general direction. This forced the NTS to move the testing underground which is where most of the 928 total tests took place.