Oak Ridge is the place to be for history lovers. During World War II, Oak Ridge was built under a cloak of secrecy to house thousands of workers and their families who helped develop the atomic bomb. Now, the Secret City offers countless opportunities for visitors to dig deeper into the past. From museums to monuments, there are plenty of ways to soak up the history of the city when you visit. Here are the 6 best places to go to explore the history of Oak Ridge TN:
When you want to learn more about Oak Ridge’s history, there is no better place to start than the American Museum of Science and Energy. The museum teaches you how 75,000 people kept a secret during World War II. You will learn about the Manhattan Project and how Oak Ridge was constructed, as well as how the technology developed in Oak Ridge has shaped our nation.
If you have kids or are just a kid at heart, you will love the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge! This museum teaches you about the Appalachian heritage of East Tennessee and the history of Oak Ridge in a unique and hands-on way. It provides children with the opportunity to learn while having fun in interactive exhibit galleries.
The Children's Museum is also home to the headquarters for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, so be sure to stop by and speak to a park ranger and learn more about Oak Ridge history. The ranger will be able assist visitors with a map of multiple Manhattan Project sites to explore around town.
The Secret City Commemorative Walk is a memorial dedicated to the men and women who came to Oak Ridge during WWII when it wasn’t even found on any maps. The memorial is located in Bissell Park and features an oval walkway with 10 bronze plaques that explain Oak Ridge’s role in the war. There are also 8 bronze markers that show what life was like for the people who lived in the city before it was open to the public. At the end of the walk, there are four 30-foot-long “Founder Walls,” which show the 1,488 original founders who came to Oak Ridge during 1942-1949.
The K-25 History Center is a 7,500 square foot facility that features interactive exhibits with more than 250 original artifacts, all sharing the incredible story of the men and women who constructed and operated a site that helped to end a global war and power America. Visit and explore the inner workings of the K-25 plant, meet the people who worked there, and learn about one of the most significant industrial, scientific, and military achievements in American history.
The International Friendship Bell was the first monument between a U.S. Manhattan Project city and Japan. It serves as an expression of hope for everlasting peace, and you can go see it! The bell is 8,000 pounds of bronze cast with images that symbolize the friendship between Oak Ridge and Japan. It is not only viewed as a symbol of peace, but as a symbol of a future being created by the increasing scientific and technological advances that benefit the world.
The Oak Ridge History Museum shines a light on the “human side” of the Manhattan Project, focusing on history and people’s day-to-day lives during World War II. The Center features displays on the unique housing built for the workers, life in the Secret City and the facilities that built the components of the atomic bombs.
After you explore the history of Oak Ridge, take some time to try some of the other exciting activities in the city. Browse all thethings to do in Anderson County, then start planning your visit!