What happened to the atomic test dummies? – by Glen Meek (Nevada Independent – March 17, 2023)


St. Patrick’s Day always rocks in Las Vegas, but not like it did 70 years ago when a 16-kiloton atom bomb detonated atop a tower at the Nevada Proving Grounds, 65 miles north of the city.

The March 17, 1953 above-ground nuclear test destroyed or damaged various test objects placed at differing distances from ground zero, including houses, cars and mannequins meant to simulate real people who might get caught in a nuclear blast. The explosion sent a shock wave through southern Nevada and left behind an atom-age mystery: What happened to the life-like mannequins used in the test?

Doom Town

The code-name for the test was “Annie,” and it was the first experiment to gauge the effects of an atomic detonation on a mock American city. Among other things, scientists wanted to learn how people exposed to the blast might fare in their homes, cars or basement bomb shelters. This aspect of the test was known as “Operation Doorstep,” and it required the construction of a simulated small town.

“The construction people who were out there called it ‘Doom Town,’” remembered retired test site technician Al O’Donnell. Before he passed away in 2015, O’Donnell spoke to the author about Doom Town and the people who put it together.

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