Learn how farmland and fields became a Secret City of 75,000 people during the dark days of World War II. Visit landmarks that tell the story of Oak Ridge, the famous scientists and generals who brought the Manhattan Project to fruition and the ordinary people who lived and labored “behind the fence.”
From 59,000 acres of farmland to a thrown-together city of mud, wood and fences to today’s center for science and technology, Oak Ridge tells a story of innovation, courage and dedication. Take the self-guided driving tour of the city’s historic sites. You can pick up a Heritage Guidebook or CDs at the Welcome Center.
Stop at the American Museum of Science and Energy, a Smithsonian affiliate, to see Ed Westcott’s iconic photographs; permanent exhibits on history, science, energy and national defense; an original flattop “B” house, representative of the cemesto houses where fortunate families lived; and numerous travelling exhibits. Adult and children alike will enjoy learning about trains, birds, local history and rainforest life at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.
The New Hope Center at Y-12 National Security Complex and the K-25 Overlook will expand your knowledge of the Manhattan Project and the amazing modern scientific applications of the work done then. Take a ride on the Secret City Scenic Excursion Train, pulled by a vintage 1950s deisel locomotive, for a different view of the Manhattan Project sites. Spend some time relaxing at A.K. Bissell Park, where you can see the International Friendship Bell, a gift and monument to peace from the people of Japan. Also in the park is a Commemorative Walk featuring 10 bronze tablets that tell the Oak Ridge story.
For the artistically inclined, the Oak Ridge Art Center offers fine arts exhibits as well as classes and workshops. The Oak Ridge Playhouse, located in historic Jackson Square, has been a thriving community theater since 1943. From there you can walk to the famous Big Ed’s Pizza and the Farmers Market, open from May through October.
If you’re here in June, be sure to get in on the fun of the Secret City Festival with living history events, music, crafts, kids’ activities and other entertainment. The Lavender Festival is a gardener’s delight, with shopping, classes, workshops and more. An important regional center for rowing, Oak Ridge is also home to several golf courses and parks.
Experience Oak Ridge
Born in war and built from scratch, today Oak Ridge is a small city with a big story to tell and a wealth of scientific acheivement to its credit. It’s remarkable history is still within recent memory, but its natural beauty is timeless.