Innovation Thrives in The "Secret City" of Oak Ridge

Innovation Thrives in The "Secret City" of Oak Ridge

Discover that the real draw of Oak Ridge is a bit of a “secret.”

Add to TripRemove

At first glance, you might think Oak Ridge is famous for its outdoor activities. After all, it’s located just an hour from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it boasts more than 85 miles of biking and running trails, rugged mountain biking trails, the 72,000-acre Windrock ATV Park, the 250-acre University of Tennessee Arboretum and Melton Lake, which is known as one of the best 2,000-meter rowing courses in the country. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that the real draw of Oak Ridge is a bit of a “secret.”

Oak Ridgers Celebrate the End of WWII in Jackson Square
Oak Ridgers Celebrate the End of WWII in Jackson Square. 

Developed by the U.S. government during World War II, Oak Ridge was part of the race to build the world’s first nuclear weapons—a top-secret mission known as the Manhattan Project. Thousands of workers migrated to the area’s clandestine science and engineering facilities, and it was in this “Secret City” that the first atomic bomb was created, helping to end World War II. Since then, Oak Ridge has been at the epicenter of innovation, developing everything from touchscreens to life-saving vaccine technology to the country’s fastest supercomputer.

With its 44 acres under roof, the K-25 Plant was one of the world largest building at the time.  The K-25 Plant used the process of Gaseous Diffusion to enrich uranium.
With its 44 acres under roof, the K-25 Plant was one of the world largest building at the time. The K-25 Plant used the process of Gaseous Diffusion to enrich uranium.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Experience the birth of this innovation when you delve into the history of the atomic age at Manhattan Project National Historical Park, a new national park that opened November 2015, offering public access to formerly restricted sites in New Mexico, Washington and Tennessee. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Tennessee facilities on the U.S. Department of Energy’s guided bus tour*. On the tour, you’ll stop at the New Hope Center on the Y-12 National Security Complex, which showcases exhibits about the Manhattan Project, Cold War and other vital missions. Marvel at the X-10 graphite reactor—the world’s oldest nuclear reactor—at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The bus tour also passes by the K-25 site, where groundbreaking technology was developed for the use of the uranium bomb.

The X-10 or Graphite Reactor, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, used neutrons emitted in the fission of uranium-235 to convert uranium-238 into a new element, plutonium-239.  It was later used in the production medical isotopes."
The X-10 or Graphite Reactor, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, used neutrons emitted in the fission of uranium-235 to convert uranium-238 into a new element, plutonium-239.  It was later used in the production medical isotopes.

More Oak Ridge Attractions

Continue exploring Oak Ridge’s remarkable history at a number of other Oak Ridge attractions, including the American Museum of Science & Energy, a family-friendly museum that illustrates how science, technology, engineering and math concepts can be applied for real-world breakthroughs.

Shift change at the Y-12 National Security Complex during the Manhattan Project.  Most of the workforce at the time was made up of women.
Shift change at the Y-12 National Security Complex during the Manhattan Project. Most of the workforce at the time was made up of women.

For even more hands-on, kid-friendly experiences, be sure to take little ones to the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, where more than 20 interactive exhibits and 20,000 artifacts await exploration. While you’re here, be sure to check out the recently updated Mars Rocket Room.

Titan is the nations most powerful supercomputer and is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Titan is the nations most powerful supercomputer and is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Getting to Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge is conveniently located near I-75 and I-40, about 25 miles west of McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee. View directions to Oak Ridge to see how easy it is to come visit, whether you’re on your way to Dollywood or Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

*Restrictions apply.

One of America’s favorite rowing venues, Oak Ridge annually host thousands of rowers and regattas including the US National Championships and the NCAA National Championships.
One of America’s favorite rowing venues, Oak Ridge annually host thousands of rowers and regattas including the US National Championships and the NCAA National Championships.
Evening on Oak Ridge’s Melton Lake with the Cumberland Mountains in the distance.
Evening on Oak Ridge’s Melton Lake with the Cumberland Mountains in the distance.

 Explore OR color logo.png

Request a Visitors Guide

Want to know more? Request a free visitors guide online at http://exploreoakridge.com

Anderson_County_Visitors_Guide_200_454_fill.JPG
Download digital brochure here

Social Media Links:

https://twitter.com/exploreoakridge

https://www.instagram.com/exploreoakridge

https://www.facebook.com/HistoricOakRidge

Outdoor Adventures in Tennessee Overhill

Discover a land of spectacular natural beauty, rich Native American heritage and an array of outdoor activities.

Read More