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Find serial numbers & product keys. Videopad video editor professional serial key. Such values are located in the registry at the following registry key locations (and probably a number of others): Windows XP HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion (and note that same ID might also be at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE.
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Also this is the only program I have noticed missing so far, is there anything. How to View the Product Key in Windows 10 The Windows 10 product key is a sequence of 25 letters and numbers divided into 5 groups of 5 characters each (ex: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX) that is used to activate the 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10 edition that you have installed. Regardless of this, product activation remains a part of Windows In this article, we take a look at product activation and troubleshooting steps.
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Map of Los Alamos site, New Mexico, 1943–45
Because it was secret, Los Alamos was referred to as "Site Y" or "the Hill". Birth certificates of babies born in Los Alamos during the war listed their place of birth as PO Box 1663 in Santa Fe. Initially Los Alamos was to have been a military laboratory with Oppenheimer and other researchers commissioned into the Army. Oppenheimer went so far as to order himself a lieutenant colonel's uniform, but two key physicists, Robert Bacher and Isidor Rabi, balked at the idea. Conant, Groves and Oppenheimer then devised a compromise whereby the laboratory was operated by the University of California under contract to the War Department.
Main article: Metallurgical Laboratory
An Army-OSRD council on 25 June 1942 decided to build a pilot plant for plutonium production in Red Gate Woods southwest of Chicago. In July, Nichols arranged for a lease of 1,025 acres (415 ha) from the Cook County Forest Preserve District, and Captain James F. Grafton was appointed Chicago area engineer. It soon became apparent that the scale of operations was too great for the area, and it was decided to build the plant at Oak Ridge, and keep a research and testing facility in Chicago.
Delays in establishing the plant in Red Gate Woods led Compton to authorize the Metallurgical Laboratory to construct the first nuclear reactor beneath the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. The reactor required an enormous amount of graphite blocks and uranium pellets. At the time, there was a limited source of pure uranium. Frank Spedding of Iowa State University were able to produce only two short tons of pure uranium. Additional three short tons of uranium metal was supplied by Westinghouse Lamp Plant which was produced in a rush with makeshift process. A large square balloon was constructed by Goodyear Tire to encase the reactor. On 2 December 1942, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiated the first artificial[note 3] self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in an experimental reactor known as Chicago Pile-1. The point at which a reaction becomes self-sustaining became known as "going critical". Compton reported the success to Conant in Washington, D.C., by a coded phone call, saying, "The Italian navigator [Fermi] has just landed in the new world."[note 4]
In January 1943, Grafton's successor, Major Arthur V. Peterson, ordered Chicago Pile-1 dismantled and reassembled at Red Gate Woods, as he regarded the operation of a reactor as too hazardous for a densely populated area. At the Argonne site, Chicago Pile-3, the first heavy water reactor, went critical on 15 May 1944. After the war, the operations that remained at Red Gate moved to the new site of the Argonne National Laboratory about 6 miles (9.7 km) away.
Main article: Hanford Site
By December 1942 there were concerns that even Oak Ridge was too close to a major population center (Knoxville) in the unlikely event of a major nuclear accident. Groves recruited DuPont in November 1942 to be the prime contractor for the construction of the plutonium production complex. DuPont was offered a standard cost plus fixed-fee contract, but the President of the company, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., wanted no profit of any kind, and asked for the proposed contract to be amended to explicitly exclude the company from acquiring any patent rights. This was accepted, but for legal reasons a nominal fee of one dollar was agreed upon. After the war, DuPont asked to be released from the contract early, and had to return 33 cents.
A large crowd of sullen looking workmen at a counter where two women are writing. Some of the workmen are wearing identify photographs of themselves on their hats.
Hanford workers collect their paychecks at the Western Union office.
DuPont recommended that the site be located far from the existing uranium production facility at Oak Ridge. In December 1942, Groves dispatched Colonel Franklin Matthias and DuPont engineers to scout potential sites. Matthias reported that Hanford Site near Richland, Washington, was "ideal in virtually all respects". It was isolated and near the Columbia River, which could supply sufficient water to cool the reactors that would produce the plutonium. Groves visited the site in January and established the Hanford Engineer Works (HEW), codenamed "Site W".
Under Secretary Patterson gave his approval on 9 February, allocating $5 million for the acquisition of 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) of land in the area. The federal government relocated some 1,500 residents of White Bluffs and Hanford, and nearby settlements, as well as the Wanapum and other tribes using the area. A dispute arose with farmers over compensation for crops, which had already been planted before the land was acquired. Where schedules allowed, the Army allowed the crops to be harvested, but this was not always possible. The land acquisition process dragged on and was not completed before the end of the Manhattan Project in December 1946.
The dispute did not delay work. Although progress on the reactor design at Metallurgical Laboratory and DuPont was not sufficiently advanced to accurately predict the scope of the project, a start was made in April 1943 on facilities for an estimated 25,000 workers, half of whom were expected to live on-site. By July 1944, some 1,200 buildings had been erected and nearly 51,000 people were living in the construction camp. As area engineer, Matthias exercised overall control of the site. At its peak, the construction camp was the third most populous town in Washington state. Hanford operated a fleet of over 900 buses, more than the city of Chicago. Like Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, Richland was a gated community with restricted access, but it looked more like a typical wartime American boomtown: the military profile was lower, and physical security elements like high fences, towers, and guard dogs were less evident.
Main article: Montreal Laboratory
Cominco had produced electrolytic hydrogen at Trail, British Columbia, since 1930. Urey suggested in 1941 that it could produce heavy water. To the existing $10 million plant consisting of 3,215 cells consuming 75 MW of hydroelectric power, secondary electrolysis cells were added to increase the deuterium concentration in the water from 2.3% to 99.8%. For this process, Hugh Taylor of Princeton developed a platinum-on-carbon catalyst for the first three stages while Urey developed a nickel-chromia one for the fourth stage tower. The final cost was $2.8 million. The Canadian Government did not officially learn of the project until August 1942. Trail's heavy water production started in January 1944 and continued until 1956. Heavy water from Trail was used for Chicago Pile 3, the first reactor using heavy water and natural uranium, which went critical on 15 May 1944.
The Chalk River, Ontario, site was established to rehouse the Allied effort at the Montreal Laboratory away from an urban area. A new community was built at Deep River, Ontario, to provide residences and facilities for the team members. The site was chosen for its proximity to the industrial manufacturing area of Ontario and Quebec, and proximity to a rail head adjacent to a large military base, Camp Petawawa. Located on the Ottawa River, it had access to abundant water. The first director of the new laboratory was Hans von Halban. He was replaced by John Cockcroft in May 1944, who in turn was succeeded by Bennett Lewis in September 1946. A pilot reactor known as ZEEP (zero-energy experimental pile) became the first Canadian reactor, and the first to be completed outside the United States, when it went critical in September 1945, ZEEP remained in use by researchers until 1970. A larger 10 MW NRX reactor, which was designed during the war, was completed and went critical in July 1947.
The Eldorado Mine at Port Radium was a source of uranium ore.
Heavy water sites
Main article: P-9 Project
Although DuPont's preferred designs for the nuclear reactors were helium cooled and used graphite as a moderator, DuPont still expressed an interest in using heavy water as a backup, in case the graphite reactor design proved infeasible for some reason. For this purpose, it was estimated that 3 short tons (2.7 t) of heavy water would be required per month. The P-9 Project was the government's code name for the heavy water production program. As the plant at Trail, which was then under construction, could produce 0.5 short tons (0.45 t) per month, additional capacity was required. Groves therefore authorized DuPont to establish heavy water facilities at the Morgantown Ordnance Works, near Morgantown, West Virginia; at the Wabash River Ordnance Works, near Dana and Newport, Indiana; and at the Alabama Ordnance Works, near Childersburg and Sylacauga, Alabama. Although known as Ordnance Works and paid for under Ordnance Department contracts, they were built and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The American plants used a process different from Trail's; heavy water was extracted by distillation, taking advantage of the slightly higher boiling point of heavy water.
The key raw material for the project was uranium, which was used as fuel for the reactors, as feed that was transformed into plutonium, and, in its enriched form, in the atomic bomb itself. There were four known major deposits of uranium in 1940: in Colorado, in northern Canada, in Joachimsthal in Czechoslovakia, and in the Belgian Congo. All but Joachimstal were in allied hands. A November 1942 survey determined that sufficient quantities of uranium were available to satisfy the project's requirements. Nichols arranged with the State Department for export controls to be placed on uranium oxide and negotiated for the purchase of 1,200 short tons (1,100 t) of uranium ore from the Belgian Congo that was being stored in a warehouse on Staten Island and the remaining stocks of mined ore stored in the Congo. He negotiated with Eldorado Gold Mines for the purchase of ore from its refinery in Port Hope, Ontario, and its shipment in 100-ton lots. The Canadian government subsequently bought up the company's stock until it acquired a controlling interest.
While these purchases assured a sufficient supply to meet wartime needs, the American and British leaders concluded that it was in their countries' interest to gain control of as much of the world's uranium deposits as possible. The richest source of ore was the Shinkolobwe mine in the Belgian Congo, but it was flooded and closed. Nichols unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate its reopening and the sale of the entire future output to the United States with Edgar Sengier, the director of the company that owned the mine, Union Minière du Haut Katanga. The matter was then taken up by the Combined Policy Committee. As 30 percent of Union Minière's stock was controlled by British interests, the British took the lead in negotiations. Sir John Anderson and Ambassador John Winant hammered out a deal with Sengier and the Belgian government in May 1944 for the mine to be reopened and 1,720 short tons (1,560 t) of ore to be purchased at $1.45 a pound. To avoid dependence on the British and Canadians for ore, Groves also arranged for the purchase of US Vanadium Corporation's stockpile in Uravan, Colorado. Uranium mining in Colorado yielded about 800 short tons (730 t) of ore.
Mallinckrodt Incorporated in St. Louis, Missouri, took the raw ore and dissolved it in nitric acid to produce uranyl nitrate. Ether was then added in a liquid–liquid extraction process to separate the impurities from the uranyl nitrate. This was then heated to form uranium trioxide, which was reduced to highly pure uranium dioxide. By July 1942, Mallinckrodt was producing a ton of highly pure oxide a day, but turning this into uranium metal initially proved more difficult for contractors Westinghouse and Metal Hydrides. Production was too slow and quality was unacceptably low. A special branch of the Metallurgical Laboratory was established at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa, under Frank Spedding to investigate alternatives. This became known as the Ames Project, and its Ames process became available in 1943.
Uranium refining at Ames
A "bomb" (pressure vessel) containing uranium halide and sacrificial metal, probably magnesium, being lowered into a furnace
After the reaction, the interior of a bomb coated with remnant slag
A uranium metal "biscuit" from the reduction reaction
Natural uranium consists of 99.3% uranium-238 and 0.7% uranium-235, but only the latter is fissile. The chemically identical uranium-235 has to be physically separated from the more plentiful isotope. Various methods were considered for uranium enrichment, most of which was carried out at Oak Ridge.
The most obvious technology, the centrifuge, failed, but electromagnetic separation, gaseous diffusion, and thermal diffusion technologies were all successful and contributed to the project. In February 1943, Groves came up with the idea of using the output of some plants as the input for others.
Contour map of the Oak Ridge area. There is a river to the south, while the township is in the north.
Oak Ridge hosted several uranium separation technologies. The Y-12 electromagnetic separation plant is in the upper right. The K-25 and K-27 gaseous diffusion plants are in the lower left, near the S-50 thermal diffusion plant. (The X-10 was for plutonium production.)
The centrifuge process was regarded as the only promising separation method in April 1942. Jesse Beams had developed such a process at the University of Virginia during the 1930s, but had encountered technical difficulties. The process required high rotational speeds, but at certain speeds harmonic vibrations developed that threatened to tear the machinery apart. It was therefore necessary to accelerate quickly through these speeds. In 1941 he began working with uranium hexafluoride, the only known gaseous compound of uranium, and was able to separate uranium-235. At Columbia, Urey had Karl Cohen investigate the process, and he produced a body of mathematical theory making it possible to design a centrifugal separation unit, which Westinghouse undertook to construct.
Scaling this up to a production plant presented a formidable technical challenge. Urey and Cohen estimated that producing a kilogram (2.2 lb) of uranium-235 per day would require up to 50,000 centrifuges with 1-meter (3 ft 3 in) rotors, or 10,000 centrifuges with 4-meter (13 ft) rotors, assuming that 4-meter rotors could be built. The prospect of keeping so many rotors operating continuously at high speed appeared daunting, and when Beams ran his experimental apparatus, he obtained only 60% of the predicted yield, indicating that more centrifuges would be required. Beams, Urey and Cohen then began work on a series of improvements which promised to increase the efficiency of the process. However, frequent failures of motors, shafts and bearings at high speeds delayed work on the pilot plant. In November 1942 the centrifuge process was abandoned by the Military Policy Committee following a recommendation by Conant, Nichols and August C. Klein of Stone & Webster.
Although the centrifuge method was abandoned by the Manhattan Project, research into it advanced significantly after the war with the introduction of the Zippe-type centrifuge, which was developed in the Soviet Union by Soviet and captured German engineers. It eventually became the preferred method of Uranium isotope separation, being far more economical than the other separation methods used during WWII.
Main article: Y-12 Project
Electromagnetic isotope separation was developed by Lawrence at the University of California Radiation Laboratory. This method employed devices known as calutrons, a hybrid of the standard laboratory mass spectrometer and the cyclotron magnet. The name was derived from the words California, university and cyclotron. In the electromagnetic process, a magnetic field deflected charged particles according to mass. The process was neither scientifically elegant nor industrially efficient. Compared with a gaseous diffusion plant or a nuclear reactor, an electromagnetic separation plant would consume more scarce materials, require more manpower to operate, and cost more to build. Nonetheless, the process was approved because it was based on proven technology and therefore represented less risk. Moreover, it could be built in stages, and rapidly reach industrial capacity.
A large oval-shaped structure
Alpha I racetrack at Y-12
Marshall and Nichols discovered that the electromagnetic isotope separation process would require 5,000 short tons (4,500 tonnes) of copper, which was in desperately short supply. However, silver could be substituted, in an 11:10 ratio. On 3 August 1942, Nichols met with Under Secretary of the Treasury Daniel W. Bell and asked for the transfer of 6,000 tons of silver bullion from the West Point Bullion Depository. "Young man," Bell told him, "you may think of silver in tons but the Treasury will always think of silver in troy ounces!" Eventually, 14,700 short tons (13,300 tonnes; 430,000,000 troy ounces) were used.
The 1,000-troy-ounce (31 kg) silver bars were cast into cylindrical billets and taken to Phelps Dodge in Bayway, New Jersey, where they were extruded into strips 0.625 inches (15.9 mm) thick, 3 inches (76 mm) wide and 40 feet (12 m) long. These were wound onto magnetic coils by Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After the war, all the machinery was dismantled and cleaned and the floorboards beneath the machinery were ripped up and burned to recover minute amounts of silver. In the end, only 1/3,600,000th was lost. The last silver was returned in May 1970.
Responsibility for the design and construction of the electromagnetic separation plant, which came to be called Y-12, was assigned to Stone & Webster by the S-1 Committee in June 1942. The design called for five first-stage processing units, known as Alpha racetracks, and two units for final processing, known as Beta racetracks. In September 1943 Groves authorized construction of four more racetracks, known as Alpha II. Construction began in February 1943.
When the plant was started up for testing on schedule in October, the 14-ton vacuum tanks crept out of alignment because of the power of the magnets, and had to be fastened more securely. A more serious problem arose when the magnetic coils started shorting out. In December Groves ordered a magnet to be broken open, and handfuls of rust were found inside. Groves then ordered the racetracks to be torn down and the magnets sent back to the factory to be cleaned. A pickling plant was established on-site to clean the pipes and fittings. The second Alpha I was not operational until the end of January 1944, the first Beta and first and third Alpha I's came online in March, and the fourth Alpha I was operational in April. The four Alpha II racetracks were completed between July and October 1944.
A long corridor with many consoles with dials and switches, attended by women seated on high stools
Calutron Girls were young women who monitored calutron control panels at Y-12. Gladys Owens, seated in the foreground, was unaware of what she had been involved with until seeing this photo on a public tour of the facility 50 years later. Photo by Ed Westcott.
Tennessee Eastman was contracted to manage Y-12 on the usual cost plus fixed-fee basis, with a fee of $22,500 per month plus $7,500 per racetrack for the first seven racetracks and $4,000 per additional racetrack. The calutrons were initially operated by scientists from Berkeley to remove bugs and achieve a reasonable operating rate. They were then turned over to trained Tennessee Eastman operators who had only a high school education. Nichols compared unit production data, and pointed out to Lawrence that the young "hillbilly" girl operators were outperforming his PhDs. They agreed to a production race and Lawrence lost, a morale boost for the Tennessee Eastman workers and supervisors. The girls were "trained like soldiers not to reason why", while "the scientists could not refrain from time-consuming investigation of the cause of even minor fluctuations of the dials."
Y-12 initially enriched the uranium-235 content to between 13% and 15%, and shipped the first few hundred grams of this to Los Alamos in March 1944. Only 1 part in 5,825 of the uranium feed emerged as final product. Much of the rest was splattered over equipment in the process. Strenuous recovery efforts helped raise production to 10% of the uranium-235 feed by January 1945. In February the Alpha racetracks began receiving slightly enriched (1.4%) feed from the new S-50 thermal diffusion plant. The next month it received enhanced (5%) feed from the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. By August K-25 was producing uranium sufficiently enriched to feed directly into the Beta tracks.
Main article: K-25
The most promising but also the most challenging method of isotope separation was gaseous diffusion. Graham's law states that the rate of effusion of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of its molecular mass, so in a box containing a semi-permeable membrane and a mixture of two gases, the lighter molecules will pass out of the container more rapidly than the heavier molecules. The gas leaving the container is somewhat enriched in the lighter molecules, while the residual gas is somewhat depleted. The idea was that such boxes could be formed into a cascade of pumps and membranes, with each successive stage containing a slightly more enriched mixture. Research into the process was carried out at Columbia University by a group that included Harold Urey, Karl P. Cohen, and John R. Dunning.
Oblique aerial view of an enormous U-shaped building
Oak Ridge K-25 plant
In November 1942 the Military Policy Committee approved the construction of a 600-stage gaseous diffusion plant. On 14 December, M. W. Kellogg accepted an offer to construct the plant, which was codenamed K-25. A cost plus fixed-fee contract was negotiated, eventually totaling $2.5 million. A separate corporate entity called Kellex was created for the project, headed by Percival C. Keith, one of Kellogg's vice presidents. The process faced formidable technical difficulties. The highly corrosive gas uranium hexafluoride would have to be used, as no substitute could be found, and the motors and pumps would have to be vacuum tight and enclosed in inert gas. The biggest problem was the design of the barrier, which would have to be strong, porous and resistant to corrosion by uranium hexafluoride. The best choice for this seemed to be nickel. Edward Adler and Edward Norris created a mesh barrier from electroplated nickel. A six-stage pilot plant was built at Columbia to test the process, but the Norris-Adler prototype proved to be too brittle. A rival barrier was developed from powdered nickel by Kellex, the Bell Telephone Laboratories and the Bakelite Corporation. In January 1944, Groves ordered the Kellex barrier into production.
Kellex's design for K-25 called for a four-story 0.5-mile (0.80 km) long U-shaped structure containing 54 contiguous buildings. These were divided into nine sections. Within these were cells of six stages. The cells could be operated independently, or consecutively within a section. Similarly, the sections could be operated separately or as part of a single cascade. A survey party began construction by marking out the 500-acre (2.0 km2) site in May 1943. Work on the main building began in October 1943, and the six-stage pilot plant was ready for operation on 17 April 1944. In 1945 Groves canceled the upper stages of the plant, directing Kellex to instead design and build a 540-stage side feed unit, which became known as K-27. Kellex transferred the last unit to the operating contractor, Union Carbide and Carbon, on 11 September 1945. The total cost, including the K-27 plant completed after the war, came to $480 million.
The production plant commenced operation in February 1945, and as cascade after cascade came online, the quality of the product increased. By April 1945, K-25 had attained a 1.1% enrichment and the output of the S-50 thermal diffusion plant began being used as feed. Some product produced the next month reached nearly 7% enrichment. In August, the last of the 2,892 stages commenced operation. K-25 and K-27 achieved their full potential in the early postwar period, when they eclipsed the other production plants and became the prototypes for a new generation of plants.
Main article: S-50 Project
The thermal diffusion process was based on Sydney Chapman and David Enskog's theory, which explained that when a mixed gas passes through a temperature gradient, the heavier one tends to concentrate at the cold end and the lighter one at the warm end. Since hot gases tend to rise and cool ones tend to fall, this can be used as a means of isotope separation. This process was first demonstrated by Klaus Clusius and Gerhard Dickel in Germany in 1938. It was developed by US Navy scientists, but was not one of the enrichment technologies initially selected for use in the Manhattan Project. This was primarily due to doubts about its technical feasibility, but the inter-service rivalry between the Army and Navy also played a part.
A factory with three smoking chimneys on a river bend, viewed from above
The S-50 plant is the dark building to the upper left behind the Oak Ridge powerhouse (with smoke stacks).
The Naval Research Laboratory continued the research under Philip Abelson's direction, but there was little contact with the Manhattan Project until April 1944, when Captain William S. Parsons, the naval officer in charge of ordnance development at Los Alamos, brought Oppenheimer news of encouraging progress in the Navy's experiments on thermal diffusion. Oppenheimer wrote to Groves suggesting that the output of a thermal diffusion plant could be fed into Y-12. Groves set up a committee consisting of Warren K. Lewis, Eger Murphree and Richard Tolman to investigate the idea, and they estimated that a thermal diffusion plant costing $3.5 million could enrich 50 kilograms (110 lb) of uranium per week to nearly 0.9% uranium-235. Groves approved its construction on 24 June 1944.
Groves contracted with the H. K. Ferguson Company of Cleveland, Ohio, to build the thermal diffusion plant, which was designated S-50. Groves's advisers, Karl Cohen and W. I. Thompson from Standard Oil, estimated that it would take six months to build. Groves gave Ferguson just four. Plans called for the installation of 2,142 48-foot-tall (15 m) diffusion columns arranged in 21 racks. Inside each column were three concentric tubes. Steam, obtained from the nearby K-25 powerhouse at a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch (690 kPa) and temperature of 545 °F (285 °C), flowed downward through the innermost 1.25-inch (32 mm) nickel pipe, while water at 155 °F (68 °C) flowed upward through the outermost iron pipe. The uranium hexafluoride flowed in the middle copper pipe, and isotope separation of the uranium occurred between the nickel and copper pipes.
Work commenced on 9 July 1944, and S-50 began partial operation in September. Ferguson operated the plant through a subsidiary known as Fercleve. The plant produced just 10.5 pounds (4.8 kg) of 0.852% uranium-235 in October. Leaks limited production and forced shutdowns over the next few months, but in June 1945 it produced 12,730 pounds (5,770 kg). By March 1945, all 21 production racks were operating. Initially the output of S-50 was fed into Y-12, but starting in March 1945 all three enrichment processes were run in series. S-50 became the first stage, enriching from 0.71% to 0.89%. This material was fed into the gaseous diffusion process in the K-25 plant, which produced a product enriched to about 23%. This was, in turn, fed into Y-12, which boosted it to about 89%, sufficient for nuclear weapons.
Aggregate U-235 production
About 50 kilograms (110 lb) of uranium enriched to 89% uranium-235 was delivered to Los Alamos by July 1945. The entire 50 kg, along with some 50%-enriched, averaging out to about 85% enriched, were used in Little Boy.
The second line of development pursued by the Manhattan Project used the fissile element plutonium. Although small amounts of plutonium exist in nature, the best way to obtain large quantities of the element is in a nuclear reactor, in which natural uranium is bombarded by neutrons. The uranium-238 is transmuted into uranium-239, which rapidly decays, first into neptunium-239 and then into plutonium-239. Only a small amount of the uranium-238 will be transformed, so the plutonium must be chemically separated from the remaining uranium, from any initial impurities, and from fission products.
X-10 Graphite Reactor
Main article: X-10 Graphite Reactor
Two workmen on a movable platform similar to that used by window washers, stick a rod into one of many small holes in the wall in front of them.
Workers load uranium slugs into the X-10 Graphite Reactor.
In March 1943, DuPont began construction of a plutonium plant on a 112-acre (0.5 km2) site at Oak Ridge. Intended as a pilot plant for the larger production facilities at Hanford, it included the air-cooled X-10 Graphite Reactor, a chemical separation plant, and support facilities. Because of the subsequent decision to construct water-cooled reactors at Hanford, only the chemical separation plant operated as a true pilot. The X-10 Graphite Reactor consisted of a huge block of graphite, 24 feet (7.3 m) long on each side, weighing around 1,500 short tons (1,400 t), surrounded by 7 feet (2.1 m) of high-density concrete as a radiation shield.
The greatest difficulty was encountered with the uranium slugs produced by Mallinckrodt and Metal Hydrides. These somehow had to be coated in aluminum to avoid corrosion and the escape of fission products into the cooling system. The Grasselli Chemical Company attempted to develop a hot dipping process without success. Meanwhile, Alcoa tried canning. A new process for flux-less welding was developed, and 97% of the cans passed a standard vacuum test, but high temperature tests indicated a failure rate of more than 50%. Nonetheless, production began in June 1943. The Metallurgical Laboratory eventually developed an improved welding technique with the help of General Electric, which was incorporated into the production process in October 1943.
Watched by Fermi and Compton, the X-10 Graphite Reactor went critical on 4 November 1943 with about 30 short tons (27 t) of uranium. A week later the load was increased to 36 short tons (33 t), raising its power generation to 500 kW, and by the end of the month the first 500 mg of plutonium was created. Modifications over time raised the power to 4,000 kW in July 1944. X-10 operated as a production plant until January 1945, when it was turned over to research activities.
Main article: Hanford Site
Although an air-cooled design was chosen for the reactor at Oak Ridge to facilitate rapid construction, it was recognized that this would be impractical for the much larger production reactors. Initial designs by the Metallurgical Laboratory and DuPont used helium for cooling, before they determined that a water-cooled reactor would be simpler, cheaper and quicker to build. The design did not become available until 4 October 1943; in the meantime, Matthias concentrated on improving the Hanford Site by erecting accommodations, improving the roads, building a railway switch line, and upgrading the electricity, water and telephone lines.
An aerial view of the Hanford B-Reactor site from June 1944. At center is the reactor building. Small trucks dot the landscape and give a sense of scale. Two large water towers loom above the plant.
Aerial view of Hanford B-Reactor site, June 1944
As at Oak Ridge, the most difficulty was encountered while canning the uranium slugs, which commenced at Hanford in March 1944. They were pickled to remove dirt and impurities, dipped in molten bronze, tin, and aluminum-silicon alloy, canned using hydraulic presses, and then capped using arc welding under an argon atmosphere. Finally, they were subjected to a series of tests to detect holes or faulty welds. Disappointingly, most canned slugs initially failed the tests, resulting in an output of only a handful of canned slugs per day. But steady progress was made and by June 1944 production increased to the point where it appeared that enough canned slugs would be available to start Reactor B on schedule in August 1944.
Work began on Reactor B, the first of six planned 250 MW reactors, on 10 October 1943. The reactor complexes were given letter designations A through F, with B, D and F sites chosen to be developed first, as this maximised the distance between the reactors. They would be the only ones constructed during the Manhattan Project. Some 390 short tons (350 t) of steel, 17,400 cubic yards (13,300 m3) of concrete, 50,000 concrete blocks and 71,000 concrete bricks were used to construct the 120-foot (37 m) high building.
Construction of the reactor itself commenced in February 1944. Watched by Compton, Matthias, DuPont's Crawford Greenewalt, Leona Woods and Fermi, who inserted the first slug, the reactor was powered up beginning on 13 September 1944. Over the next few days, 838 tubes were loaded and the reactor went critical. Shortly after midnight on 27 September, the operators began to withdraw the control rods to initiate production. At first all appeared well but around 03:00 the power level started to drop and by 06:30 the reactor had shut down completely. The cooling water was investigated to see if there was a leak or contamination. The next day the reactor started up again, only to shut down once more.
Fermi contacted Chien-Shiung Wu, who identified the cause of the problem as neutron poisoning from xenon-135, which has a half-life of 9.2 hours. Fermi, Woods, Donald J. Hughes and John Archibald Wheeler then calculated the nuclear cross section of xenon-135, which turned out to be 30,000 times that of uranium. DuPont engineer George Graves had deviated from the Metallurgical Laboratory's original design in which the reactor had 1,500 tubes arranged in a circle, and had added an additional 504 tubes to fill in the corners. The scientists had originally considered this overengineering a waste of time and money, but Fermi realized that by loading all 2,004 tubes, the reactor could reach the required power level and efficiently produce plutonium. Reactor D was started on 17 December 1944 and Reactor F on 25 February 1945.
A contour map showing the fork of the Columbia and Yakima rivers and the boundary of the land, with seven small red squares marked on it
Map of the Hanford Site. Railroads flank the plants to the north and south. Reactors are the three northernmost red squares, along the Columbia River. The separation plants are the lower two red squares from the grouping south of the reactors. The bottom red square is the 300 area.
Meanwhile, the chemists considered the problem of how plutonium could be separated from uranium when its chemical properties were not known. Working with the minute quantities of plutonium available at the Metallurgical Laboratory in 1942, a team under Charles M. Cooper developed a lanthanum fluoride process for separating uranium and plutonium, which was chosen for the pilot separation plant. A second separation process, the bismuth phosphate process, was subsequently developed by Seaborg and Stanly G. Thomson. This process worked by toggling plutonium between its +4 and +6 oxidation states in solutions of bismuth phosphate. In the former state, the plutonium was precipitated; in the latter, it stayed in solution and the other products were precipitated.
Greenewalt favored the bismuth phosphate process due to the corrosive nature of lanthanum fluoride, and it was selected for the Hanford separation plants. Once X-10 began producing plutonium, the pilot separation plant was put to the test. The first batch was processed at 40% efficiency but over the next few months this was raised to 90%.
At Hanford, top priority was initially given to the installations in the 300 area. This contained buildings for testing materials, preparing uranium, and assembling and calibrating instrumentation. One of the buildings housed the canning equipment for the uranium slugs, while another contained a small test reactor. Notwithstanding the high priority allocated to it, work on the 300 area fell behind schedule due to the unique and complex nature of the 300 area facilities, and wartime shortages of labor and materials.
Early plans called for the construction of two separation plants in each of the areas known as 200-West and 200-East. This was subsequently reduced to two, the T and U plants, in 200-West and one, the B plant, at 200-East. Each separation plant consisted of four buildings: a process cell building or "canyon" (known as 221), a concentration building (224), a purification building (231) and a magazine store (213). The canyons were each 800 feet (240 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) wide. Each consisted of forty 17.7-by-13-by-20-foot (5.4 by 4.0 by 6.1 m) cells.
DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 77
“Yes,” he replies, “Two will drive in in their own vehicles, but one will be flying, I think, it’s not yet been confirmed. If he does arrive on time, he’ll have to go in the field with you in your truck.”
“OK, now I’m a taxi service?” I snicker, “Price of poker’s going up.”
“Yes, right,” he grimaces, “As per your prospectus, you’re running the show out in the field. You have to being you’re the only one fully licensed. “
“This is news?” I asked.
“Well, “he continues, “All of your associates will possess some degree of blasting experience.”
“But none are licensed?” I ask.
“Not as such,” he replies. “Either way, you’re running the show out there. Make certain they all survive and return moderately intact.”
“Always my intention,” I say, “Can I see the list?”
“Certainly,” Harry says, sitting back and lighting up my cigar.
OK, let’s see…”
No doctors, yet. All last-year PhD candidates in either mining or engineering geology. Well, not my absolute first choices, but I guess it’s better than a sharp stick on the eye.
• Albert W. Armstrong. “Al”. University of Missouri, Rolla. Mining geology.
• Charles F. Glaciisto. “Chuck”. New Mexico Tech., Socorro. Mining geology.
•Leonard. R. Paskapää. “Leonard”. Colorado School of Mines. Engineering geology.
“Well, there’s a nice assortment,” I say, “Guess I’ll see them when they get there.”
“Chuck and Al are driving out. Leonard is flying out, I think, and won’t be there for another two weeks.” Harry tells me.
“Fine by me. Hope they boned up and brought all the necessary gear. This is a real job, not a field trip.” I said.
“I agree Rock,” Harry intones, “They have the project prospectus, so there should be few surprises. Well, I’m off to some meetings in DC. I’ll have to catch you for dinner when you return. In the meantime, we have a reservation for you at the Hyatt next door. I’ve also arranged for your trailer and supplies tomorrow at 0600. I knew you’d want to be out on the road early.”
“Fair dinkum, Harry,” I say, “Sounds like a plan. I’ll be in touch. Have a good trip.”
“You too,” he says as we shake hands and depart.
The Hyatt was comfortable, but just another in a long line of chain hotels. Adequate clean room, decent food, ridiculous mini-bar prices. I was up at 0500, showered, and ready to head over to the armory for my Nevada supplies.
I show up at 0545. I was that ready to get back on the road. Surprisingly, all I had time for was an early morning Bear Claw and coffee before everyone showed up.
“Right this way, Rock,” Andy the Armorer told me. “Drive right back to bay 5. I’ll open it up and we’ll have you on your way.”
So, I wheeled back to Bay 5, spun the truck around, and backed right up to the door.
I tootled my horn and the corrugated door began to roll up.
Andy motioned for me to back in, slowly. Using hand signs, I backed in enough for them to close the door again.
I saw my old trailer over in the corner and was thinking it was nice to have a familiar bit of kit.
Then another trailer was rolled out. Fully twice the size of the old trailer, it was painted a ghastly government green, overlain with black and yellow cross stripes. It was plastered with DOD, DOT, DOI, and all the other necessary stickers. There was one large and very prominent sticker on the bumper that proclaimed; “EXPLOSIVES! DANGER! STAY BACK 500 FEET.”
“Oh, that’s nice and unobtrusive,” I said. “No one will give that a second thought.”
Half the trailer was taken up by a cast-iron tub, with hinged lid. It had an electric motor to raise and lower the lid, just the thing for going out in the boonies, I thought. It was made of very stout and thick welded steel and was quite lockable. It also looked bullet, lightning, and nuke-proof.
It also weighed a fucking ton.
The rest of the trailer had several lockable compartments, of varying sizes for the inclusions of all my different blasting equipment, all made of the same stern stuff.
The whole trailer had a resolute fiberglass lid, although the munitions tub still stuck out proclaiming its message of impending doom for all tailgaters to see.
“Is this all really necessary?” I asked Andy.
“Latest DOD, DOT, and DOI specs,” he told me.
“Marvelous,” I muttered.
“Well, let’s get on with the show,” I said. “You have my goodies list? I want to get out on the road.”
“Yes, sir!” he saluted, as he was still military. He barked some orders and suddenly, cart after cart after cart of the fun stuff arrived.
He delighted in showing me that this was a custom trailer. A special compartment in the tub was for binaries, a special section for dynamite, and one for all the other permissibles. The rest of the trailer was marked with cute little lockable cubbies for “Blasting caps,” “Galvanometer,” “Primacord,” “Demolitoin [sic] Wire,” etc.
It was all a very governmental job. Over-designed, over-engineered, and over-wrought.
I came to love it.
The lockbox in my truck was now empty, so I had the opportunity to load up with a few extras. I thought “You can’t go wrong with Primacord,” so 3 extra spools went in there. As did another couple boxes of initiators, pop-drop-forget fuses, a box of Fusees (road flares), delay caps, a couple of pairs of blaster’s pliers, as I kept losing mine, spools of demo wire, and extra batteries and an extra electronic detonator.
Best to be prepared, as I always say.
I was now weighed down with over to a ton of explosives, along with all the ancillary tackle.
Luckily my truck had that big, ol’ turbocharged V-8. We’re going into the mountains dragging the equivalent of a rental company Toy-Auto behind us.
I signed all the paperwork and waited until everyone present had their own notarized copy to lose. I was given two sets of keys, just in case. After I disbursed some thank you cigars, I eased out of the armory, dragging this trailer down that endless black ribbon of highway.
It was chained, wired, and padlocked to my truck. It would be a serious pain in the ass to take it off and park it for the night. Until I hit Reno, I either camp rough or stick to the plastic water glass circuit, that is, truck stops.
“No problem,” I thought. “I’ve done worse.”
Back on the road again, I’m cutting due west towards Arizona. Even with my truck’s big turbo V-8, with all the shit I was carrying and dragging behind, forget rapid acceleration or passing on anything even approximating a stiff grade.
I eased on down the road, out of New Mexico and into Arizona. I resolve to visit Cuba on the return trip.
A simple swing across Arizona and I’m in Nevada. Looks like smooth sailing ahead…
Things are going along swimmingly. I’m making great time on I-40 across Arizona.
Sure, it’s hot out, but there’s not much traffic and I can keep a pretty steady pace. So much so, I’m pointing the truck in a generally westward direction and I busy my long hours away futzing with the CB radio, eavesdropping on truckers on channel 19. Or, I futz with my shortwave trying to find Radio Moscow.
Yeah, even the CWG, car window geology, can pale after miles and miles of miles…
I’m tempted to swing through Winslow, Arizona just because I’m a fan of the Eagles. But the road is humming so nicely, I just decide to ‘Take it Easy’, and continue onwards.
Through Flagstaff, through Ash Fork, through Seligman. I’m blazing along only to have to take a bit a break outside of Kingman to avail myself of the roadside rest area facilities before I make the lane change and head for Vegas.
Or, more accurately, around Vegas. I want no part of dragging over a ton of high explosives down The Strip. Besides, the DOT would hang me by my thumbs, or more tender appendages, if I didn’t take an ‘ODOT’, or ‘Optional Direction Of Travel’.
Got to stay away from agglomerations of those people things.
That won’t be for a while as I head up Highway 93. Through Chloride and Willow Beach, up toward Henderson. I zip over the Colorado River and I’m in my destination state. In the far, far south of the state, and I’m headed to the extreme northwest of the state, but, hey, I’m in the damned state nonetheless.
Up towards Las Vegas, I really want to pull in, grab a suite, and go all Vegas-y. But, duty calls. I resolve to take Esme to Vegas when I get back to Houston and before we make any plans to head to some Middle Eastern sandpit.
I schuss up the 11 right towards Vegas and right on past via 215. I’m now on 160 headed towards one of my favorite cities: Pahrump, Nevada.
Governor Lepetomane: [pointing to a member of his cabinet] “I didn't get a "Pahrump" out of that guy!”
Hedley Lamarr: “Give the Governor a ‘Pahrump’!”
Governor Lepetomane: “You watch your ass.”
Anyways, I continue along in Nevada as the sun slowly slinks down ahead of me. All the hours on the road, all this fresh air, all the cigars…
Shit, I need a drink and a nap.
I’m between Beatty and Bonne Claire, just outside the Mojave Desert when I suddenly felt the urge to pull over, climb in the back of my truck, have a stout drink, and flake out until it cools off some.
There’s really not much out in this part of the world, so I pull off the highway and go off-road some 150 meters or so; parking parallel, but somewhat distant to, the highway. That way, people would think I’m a local, or a camper, but not anyone in trouble. So they’d just flash by and leave me the fuck alone for a while. Plus, I didn’t need to look for a motel, pay for a motel, schlep baggage…oh, fuck, I need a road snooze…
I lock the cab of the truck, pop open the step cap, and climb inside. I couldn’t be arsed to find a proper glass for a cocktail, so I just liberated a frosty beer from the closest cooler.
I rearranged my tack in the back of the truck to make a most serviceable little nest, and pulled down, but didn’t lock, the back window. Just right for a few hours’ kip. I set my .454 next to me, got comfy on my sleeping bag, and was out before I could even start that initial beer.
I awoke suddenly, hearing rather than seeing something prowling around in the impenetrable darkness outside. Of indigenous animals, I possess no fear. But I’ve seen ‘The Hill Have Eyes,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and actually hail from the land that spawned Ed Gein, so I’m a bit, well, ‘alert’.
I spy the glint of something possibly metallic, so it’s official. There’s an ax-wielding serial killer wandering around outside lusting for my giblets. He probably has a hook for a hand and only appears on the roadside on the anniversary of his family’s decapitations in a bloody sweater knitted by his dead wife.
Either that or it’s a silver possum.
Whatever it was, it went up to the front of my truck and seemed to be testing the doors.
I still have on my field boots, loosened, so I tie them as securely as I can manage. I slowly ease open the rear window of the step cap and, silently as a moose, slip out of the truck.
I have my .454 loaded and in defense position. Any small, slow, and stupid beast that turned its back on me was looking for a stomping.
The world went dazzling white as someone, or something shone a very powerful flashlight in my face. Imagine going from the inside of a cavern to the bright side of the sun in the space of 11 milliseconds. Luckily, my firearms training prevented any potential disaster.
Although, it did hurt like hell having one’s iris’ snap shut like that.
“Whoa!” I heard a voice, “Who the fuck are you?”
“Whoa!” I said, “Who the fuck are you?”
“STAND DOWN! NOW!” I heard.
“OK,” I thought, “It’s a cop…”
“Cool out! I’m licensed for CCL. See? Gun going down!” I said, loudly.
“OK, gun on the ground and stand back!” He ordered.
“Absolutely, sir,” I said, “I hear and comply.”
“What the hell is that?” I heard someone ask.
“Umm, Officer?” I asked, “I’m Doctor Rocknocker of Texas. I’m going to Reno to the BLM and DOI. I am licensed for CCL and that, lying there getting dusty, is a custom .454 Casull Magnum.”
“Come forward so I can see your hands and be recognized.” He orders.
“Yes, sir,” I said and complied.
“OK, slowly. Your identification.” He barked as I slowly handed him my wallet.
“OK. Doctor Rocknocker. Right. Texas CCL. OK. Texas Driver’s License. Right. Blaster’s license. OK. Master Blaster’s certificate. Umm. ISEE membership. Yeah. What’s this?” he asks, shining his light on my wallet.
“My Russian Driver’s License,” I reply.
“Um, yeah. OK…” he says and hands back my wallet.
“May I retrieve my sidearm?” I ask.
“Certainly,” he replies.
I grab my Casull and dust it off as best I can before shoving it out of sight, back into its holster.
“What the hell are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night? He asks.
“Well, I’m a geologist…” I begin.
He holds up a hand and stops me right there.
“That explains it.” he snickers. “You fuckers are nuts.”
“Well, I cannot in good faith argue that point,” I concur.
Officer Westmoreland, as I soon found out, is a Nevada State Trooper. He saw my rig parked, dark, on the side of the road out here on the fringes of the Mojave. He was checking if anyone was around or might be in of need assistance.
I told him my long, sordid tale. I wandered over to my truck and pulled out a cigar. Officer Westmoreland refused my initial offer.
He didn’t resist when I pulled over my larger cooler, grabbed a glass, and poured myself several hands of bourbon over ice.
“Officer, I know you’re on duty, but could I interest you in a cold drink?” I asked. “I have several soft and hard drinks, whatever is your pleasure.”
“Well, Doctor,” he smiled, “I was on my way home and I was actually off duty when I saw your rig and stopped. Got a cold beer?”
“Certainly. Remember, I’m a geologist? Right. Lager? IPA? Stout? Porter? Can? Bottle? Domestic? Import?” I asked.
“Yep. You’re a geologist. Whatever’s handy,” he laughs.
I hand him a cold Spotted Coo from a small brewery way back in the Foam Town state.
I sit down on the tailgate and fire up a Coleman lantern to dispel the gloom. For the first time, I see Officer Westmoreland and he sees me.
“Please, have a seat.” I said, “I’m just trying to get my heart rate back down to normal.”
He does, at the far end of the tailgate. We’re still sniffing each other out.
He looks closely for the first time at my trailer.
“What’s all that about?” he asks.
“Oh, that?” I ask and take a deep draught of Kentucky’s Finest. “That’s just the transport system for over a ton of high explosives.”
He looks at me like I’m joking.
“Ah, it’s empty, right?” he asks.
“Nope. Totally loaded. Want to see the manifests?” I ask.
“You’re not fucking with me, are you, Doctor? Is that really is a ton of high explosives sitting there not 5 feet away…it’s not empty?” he shudders.
“Nope. It is quite full. See, I’m going to the DOI, pick up some trainees, and some toilet paper in Reno. Then we’ll all head out into the wild and blow the living shit out of some old, abandoned mines.” I reply.
“OH!” he says, relieved, “Wait! I’ve heard of that program. Hey! You’re that crazy guy from Texas, right?”
“I guess,” I replied offhandedly, “If that Texas guy is a geologist and fully licensed blaster.”
“Yeah! You’re him” he laughs, “Good to meet you, sir. It’s about time someone’s doing something about all these old fucking mines. I have to pull corpses out of them two or three times a year. Seal ‘em up, cement ‘em tight, leave bat bars, don’t matter none. Assholes rip it right down and tear it up, go in, fall down a fucking shaft and die. I have better things to do with my time than retrieve bodies, Doctor. I am glad you’re here.”
“I am glad to be here.” I reply, “We’re on a kind of pilot program. Another doctor, Dr. Eva and I, kind of pioneered the process of sealing mines completely or sealing them leaving bat access in the Four Corners area. One thing leads to another and here we are. Sharing a drink, and a smoke, not 1.5 meters away from a ton of high explosives.”
“Well,” Office Westmoreland says, “If you’re cool with it, so am I.” as he lights another Marlboro.
He decides on another quick beer, as he’s never has a Spotted Coo before. We sit and have a really nice chat. He was keen on looking at my .454. I showed him my 10 gauge Mossberg and he was impressed with that. Then I opened my vest to show him the twin 10mm Glocks I was toting.
“Preparing for action?” he asks.
“But failing to prepare, you prepare to fail,” I noted.
“I hear that!” he says and drains his beer.
He hands me the empty as I always carry garbage bags for just such an emergency.
“Pack out your trash” isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law.”
“Well, Doctor,” he says, “Time for me to go on home. Take it easy out here and get a few hours rest before you head out, you’ve had some of the wet stuff.”
“I plan to, Officer Westmoreland,” I assure him, “Thanks, and have a good rest of the night.”
“And watch out for serial killers” He chuckles, as he gets back into his squad car and heads off down the road.
“He was a nice chap. Very affable. Weird sense of humor, though.” I muse.
The next morning, I whip up a quick breakfast of roadside yaws and goiters. I clean up, pack everything back, and am back on the road.
I’ll be on 95 most of the way to Reno. Past Tonopah, Coaldale, and Hawthorne. Heading more or less due north.
The sun is already baking and I strip off my vest and put my Glocks in the lockbox. I am still wearing my Casull because reasons.
I motor past Schurz, and up to Silver Springs. I spend an hour there refueling and availing myself of the facilities.
I made sure to keep everyone happy and park out on the fringes of the truck stop after I gas up.
Now it’s 439 to Clark, Nevada, onto I-80. Headed more westy than northy now, aimed directly for Reno.
I check my DOI prepared itinerary and see I need to find Financial Boulevard in Reno. Very easy as the town’s laid out in a nice, neat grid-like sort of pattern, kind of.
I circle around the area looking for an entrance and spy the Genghis Khan Mongolian restaurant about a quarter-mile from the DOI office. I know where I’m having lunch.
I pull into the Bureau’s parking lot and head for the rear. I show my credentials at the gate as I don’t think I should leave this trailer out front.
I park and wander back into the DOI, weapons all secured in my truck.
Inside, I tell the secretary who I am and that I ‘m here on the Abandoned Mines initiative.
She says “Of course,” and picks up the phone.
Minutes later I am introduced to one Dr. Sam Muleshoe, the director of the DOI around these parts. He walks me back to his office.
“Well, Doctor,” he says, “Welcome to Reno. I trust you had a good trip.”
“Mostly uneventful,” I replied.
“Very good,” he says. “Your associates have not arrived as of yet. Should be here later tonight or early tomorrow. At least two of them will as Leonard won’t be here until the latter part of your project.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “Do we know of their vehicles”? I asked.
“What do you mean?” he says.
“Well, if there are three of us, I can only transport two. I hope one of the vehicles they’re bringing is a four-wheel drive.” I explain.
“I’m not certain.” he relates, “But I can check.”
“No worries,” I reply, “There’s nothing at this point we can do. Best to just wait and see.”
“Right,” he agrees. “Your truck. Is it parked out back?”
“Yes,” I reply.
“Good’, he says, “Let’s go.”
We go out to the back lot and just as I said, my truck and the trailer are sitting there.
“OK, Doctor,” he explains, “While we wait, we’ll get your communications sorted out. We have DOI HF (High Frequency) radios for all outgoing vehicles. We’re on a state-wide government frequency. Plus, we can add a bit of extra kit to your trailer if you like.”
“Such as?” I ask.
“We can add a motorcycle carrier.” he says, “That way, you can take a small dirt bike with you out in the field. If you desire.”
“Oh, fuckin’-A Bubba, hell yeah. I desire”. I think.
“Yes. Yes.,” I agree, “That might just come in handy.” I agree.
A member of the Bureau’s motor pool comes over and asks for my keys. He’ll handle all the modifications.
I hand over my keys, and we walk back to Sam’s office. We spend a few hours getting acquainted. Technical talk, very prosaic.
Since my associates don’t appear to be arriving that day, Dr. Muleshoe suggests I take a room at the Motel 666 just down the road. My truck will be safe and secure until tomorrow.
I agree and go back to my vehicle to gather a few odds and ends. The front seat looks like a Radio Shack exploded. The mechanics and electricians are having the very Devil’s Grandmother of a time hooking up the DOI radio. Seems I have already taken every fusible link available for my stereo, speakers, and other communications devices.
I stash the Mossberg in the back of the truck, under lock and key. I replace my Glocks under my vest and have my Casull on my hip. I grab my field case full of reprints and such, and a change of duds.
Back in the DOI offices, Dr. Muleshoe remarks that with my sidearms and Stetson, I look like a co-star in some Clint Eastwood flick.
This really blew my mind, the fact that me, an overfed, long-haired leaping gnome should be the star of a Hollywood movie.
But I didn’t Burdon myself with that thought for long. Didn’t want to start a War, now, did I?
A Bureau worker drives me over to the hotel. He drops me off with a directory of Reno BLM and DOI, with phone numbers. He also tells me that although this looks like an unassuming motel, they have delivery service from most of the better restaurants in town and that their Happy Hour should be starting soon.
I thank him and he tells me he’ll pick me up tomorrow at 0900 sharp.
I obtain a room easily as evidently nothing fazes these people out here. I wanted to take some time and fart around downtown Reno. But, I decided to let that go until the job is done.
Besides, I don’t feel like walking all over a new town the first night I’m in.
It was a very nice room, clean, utilitarian and with an in-room safe. I stash my sidearms and lock it up solid. I then get to the phone and make some calls.
I call Esme and let her know of my progress. Everything’s puttering along fine back home. Es is thrilled at the new blades I got for her rock saw and she tells me that the omphacite vase is almost ready. She also tells me that I need to bring back representative examples of Nevada’s oddball geology for her to work on. I assure her I will, profess my undying love, and hang up.
I call Rack and Run with an update. All very routine, the call lasts less than five minutes.
Then I call Harry in Albuquerque. Then I remember he’s in DC at a conference of some kind. I leave a quick message on his machine and hang up.
“Well, now,” I say to no one in particular, as I comb back my long silver hair. “Everything business-related is done and dusted. And I’m dusty.”
Down the hall, down the elevator, and off to Happy Hour.
Two for one drinks and they’ll even serve interlopers dressed in ghastly Hawaiian shirts and cargo shorts. I explain the proper construction methods of my signature cocktail and shortly, two large tumblers full of Rocknocker-cocktail appear as I’m perched upon Mahogany Ridge.
All for the princely sum of US$2.00.
I realize that I really like Reno.
It’s sort of a mini-Vegas, I find. I’ve never really been to Reno before and it really is “The Biggest Little City in the World”. Even in this little unassuming bar in this little unassuming motel, there are a couple of tables for roulette, craps, and blackjack.
And walls full of One-Armed Bandits.
Figuring I already paid my Stupid Tax by purchasing some scratch-off lottery tickets for Esme, and dropping $5 on the “Pick Five,” I could forego paying any more into the state’s coffers.
After several more cocktails, I was already 8 bucks in the hole for drinks and $40 bucks more feeding those infernally blinking, though ineffably inviting machines.
I tried the Blazing 7’s machine.
I tried the Monopoly slots.
I tried the Cash Express.
I came >< this close but still lost.
Disgustapated, I tried one final machine, The Jackpot.
I won $50 bucks.
“Holy shit!” I wowed, “Wow! I broke even!”
I quit immediately and went back to the bar.
I had another couple of drinks and after tipping out the bartender, I realized I had still lost.
I was down $12 dollars.
In other words, I did as well as usual.
Back in my room, I ordered some chow from the Genghis Khan Mongolian restaurant. At least here my luck was changing. It was excellent.
After checking out the next morning, I’m puffing on a cigar, waiting on my driver. He shows up spot on time and I go to snuff my cigar in an outside ashtray.
“That’s OK, Sir’, he tells me, “I don’t mind if you smoke. As long as you don’t mind me.”
“Fair enough,” I tell him, and we sally down the road to the DOI.
Of my three acolytes,
• Albert W. Armstrong. “Al”. University of Missouri, Rolla. Mining geology.
• Charles F. Glaciisto. “Chuck”. New Mexico Tech., Socorro. Mining geology.
• Leonard. R. Paskapää. “Leonard”. Colorado School of Mines. Engineering geology.
Albert and Charles arrived late last night, they drove in. Leonard, as Dr. Muleshoe noted, will arrive later, flying or driving in.
My truck is ready to go as is my trailer. I have my choice of several BLM/DOI motocross and dirt bikes, so I choose a cute little Maico 501, as the bike featured the largest two-stroke single-cylinder engine ever stuffed into a production bike. I figured I’d need all the torque I could get to haul my carcass around.
I receive extra fuel bowsers already pre-mixed with oil for the bike.
I’ve been a rider for years and even though most of my latest motorcycle driving concerns my Indian Super Chief, I’ve ridden dirt for years when I was younger.
I introduce myself to Albert and Charles. We shake hands and they tell me to refer to them as ‘Al’ and ‘Chuck’.
“And you will call me Rock,” I reply.
They were both cool with that.
I ask what vehicles brought them here. Al drove in via a beat-to-shit Volkswagen Van. Chuck drove his International Harvester Super Scout, also beat to death, or close to it.
“Gentlemen,” I say, assaying their field vehicles. “These will not do.”
They both immediately looked unconformable.
“It’s like this,” I relate to them, “I have my GMC 1-ton. It has room for two people, but not two passengers. I’m also towing a trailer, so I don’t want to be weighed down by all your field gear as well.”
They nodded in agreement.
“Let’s have a chat with Sr. Muleshoe,” I suggested, “He might be able to come up with a solution to our problems.”
So we did. The BLM lent us one of their field-kitted out Land Cruiser, a J-70. A boxy, utilitarian vehicle, with an eight-cylinder petrol engine with a five-speed standard transmission.
“Either you two know how to drive a standard shift?” I asked.
They both replied in the affirmative.
Harrumph. Try that today…
“Well, gents,” I said, “We’re burning daylight. We leave as soon as you two get loaded and figure out who’s doing all the stick and rudder work. You can drive together, or one can ride with me. Either way, we leave ASAP and we’ll do orientations and Q&A once we’re in the field. Chop-chop!”
The haul ass to their respective vehicles. They’ll park their rides in the DOI back parking lot for the duration. I go to get my truck and see if the trailer’s hooked back up.
It is and on the rear of the trailer, right above the warning signs for ill-advised tailgaters, is a well-used but still going to be fun as hell Maico 501 dirt bike.
This mission has suddenly taken on a more wholesome and lighthearted mien.
Al and Chuck decide to make the Land Cruise their vehicle and drive together, at least at the beginning. I have no objection and after dispensing the appropriate maps, itineraries, and other documentation, we do a radio check, as the BLM vehicle already had an HF radio.
With that sorted, we head out into the wilderness.
Once out on the streets of Reno, I ask for them to find us a grocery store so we can obtain field provisions for the next week or so. We’ll be out in the sticks, but there are enough little towns scattered about and with two vehicles, we won’t be as isolated as I first thought. I remember to stock up on Charmin Extra-Fluffy.
I mean, we’re not savages here.
We wheel into BinCo foods and invade the store for supplies. Al and Chuck ask what they should buy, as we all have BLM/DOI credit cards for the duration, and I tell them “whatever you want to make for chow”. I explain that I’ll eat just about anything, and am partial to meat, meat, and more meat. I leave them at that and head over to the liquor store down the street.
I have 5 huge coolers in the back of my truck. Two for drinks of all sorts, and three for food.
I obtain some of the necessary outback fluids and several bags of ice.
I ice down all the drinks and wheel back to the grocery store.
Al and Chuck are just emerging. I whistle them over to my truck as it’s going to be the Chuckwagon, no pun intended, on this tour.
We load their selections into the coolers and ice everything that needs icing down. I go into the store and purchase a few items I note they have missed, and place them in the bed of my truck.
I ask if they have everything necessary for a month out in the boonies, and they look to each other, shrug their shoulders, and reply that they think they do.
“OK,” I say, “Either of you armed?” I ask.
“No,” came the reply.
“You will be,” I reply, and ask if there truck’s gassed up.
At the Bumoco station, we fill our vehicles to the top. I check all fluid levels as my blinker light fluid’s been being used profligately lately.
“OK,” I say, “Last chance. Anything you even think you might have forgotten before we head into the wilds? Chapstick? Bug spray? Aloe?”
“No,” they reply, “We think we’re good.”
“All-righty, then,” I reply. “You have your maps, you have your compasses, and you have your vehicle. We will rendezvous at Pinnate Ridge in four hours. Bye.”
I jump into my truck, fire her up, grab a cigar, crank up some Floyd. I head out of the parking lot, generally south.
Both of them just stand there like guppy fish at feeding time.
They both realize I’m not fucking around and scramble back to their vehicle. The last I saw, they were still trying to get it into first gear.
I made it to Pinnate Ridge in 2.5 hours. It’s really very easy to find, even off the road. There are signs everywhere, even out in the sticks. Its prime desert dune and badland riding area, along with several mines on our agenda that are going to be closing down for good.
I arrive and scope out a likely looking camping spot. Nice flat ground, nicely elevated. A not-too-distant outcrop that will be fine for a latrine area. No running water, no trees, no firewood. I expected as much.
I pull to where my truck acts as a windbreak and set up camp.
Well, my camp at least.
Four hours later, I’m slurping a Grape Nehi sitting in my camping chair. I have a fire pit all set up but without fuel. I’m smoking a large cigar and looking through some of the older Mining News magazines. I haven’t seen another person the whole day since we all went off-grid.
Over a crest, I see the BLM Land Cruiser. Well, better late than never, I suppose.
They finally pull into camp, far too close to my truck, their back wheels in the soft sand.
“Gentlemen,” I say, arising from my chair, “Welcome to your first camp. As for your first test, well, more about that later. Let’s make camp, shall we?”
Wordlessly, they set about pitching tents, getting out sleeping bags and the like.
“Gentlemen,” “I ask, “How’s the weather?”
They look at me with blank expressions.
“You have radios in your vehicle, do you not? I suggest you call for an update for the next few days.” I recommend.
Later, “We did, Rock,” Chuck reports, “No rain, hot, with moderate northwesterly winds.”
“OK, good.” I continue, “What do you think of your campsite?”
They look and proclaim it fit.
“Hmmm,” I say, “Parked to the southeast, back wheels off solid rock and in the sand. What happens if a sandstorm kicks up tonight?”
They look, smack themselves collectively in the head, and reposition their vehicle, nose to tail with mine, forming a good windbreak for the entire camp.
“Gents,” I say, “’ Be prepared’. Get used to these words, you’ll be hearing them a lot from now on.”
“Boy,” I say, “I could sure go for a coffee. There’s the pot, here’s the water, and here’s the coffee. There’s the fire pit…”
“Where’s the wood?” Al asks.
“Oh, you didn’t bring any firewood?” I ask.
“No…,” they both say , sheepishly.
“Good thing I did,” I say, motioning to my truck. “Be prepared.”
Over coffee and cigars; well, a cigar for me, Al smokes a pipe, and Chuck is tweaking over Marlboro Reds, I go over the basics of our project:
- Locate mines.
- Map mines if maps need updating. Some are from the turn of the last century, so yeah, this will almost always be a task.
- Take representative geological samples. This is my own twist on the job.
- Photograph any mine chronological, or unusual, subjects.
- Inspect mines for ‘biologicals’. They’ve already been vetted, but I want to be certain.
- Find and delineate all surficial openings.
- Prepare mine for demolition.
- Wire in, prime, and set charges.
- Run demo wire out of the mine and back to the safety muster area.
- Demolish mine.
- Drink vodka & beer, sleep, repeat.
- There is no #12.
Chuck and Al were so busy taking notes, they didn’t have time to formulate any questions.
“OK, guys. Once you get all that, pencils down,” I say.
They finish writing and I see it’s already getting late in the day.
“OK,” I say, “Dinner if you’re hungry. Shall we eat?” I ask.
I decide on dry sausage and beer, as I’m not terribly peckish.
Chuck and Al get the fire going higher and grill up some hot dogs and beans.
Sitting around the campfire as dusk begins to descend, we sit around with our geological desserts. Beers for the guys and a double Rocknocker for me.
Now the drinking lamp’s been lit, we have a chance to chat and get to know each other.
“You guys are still doing dishes tonight,” I remind them.
“Yes, boss man.” They smile.
“OK,” I say, “There are a few things I need to get clear with you. One, I am the hookin’ bull around here. I say ‘jump’, you say ‘how high?’. I’m not too terribly tyrannical, but when playing around with high explosives, your very life might depend on it. Two, I’m the only one licensed to handle the explosives. You’re in training, but you will not go into the lockbox in the back of my truck nor the trailer until I deem you are ready. Violation of this rule is cause for immediate expulsion. And we’ll keep the vehicles. We green?”
To be continued.