MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – The story of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer is now in theaters after premiering Friday. It tells the true story of the man who led the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb.
His unique story is also being told inside the Mound Cold War Discovery Center in Miamisburg.
“It’s been really exciting to see people come in and when they see the giant picture of Oppenheimer, they get really excited,” Mound Cold War Discovery Center Site and Project Manager Jaclyn Miller said.
Dayton has its own connection to the Oppenheimer story, starting with Dr. Charles Allen Thomas.
“He was actually asked to be Oppenheimer’s co deputy out west,” Miller said.
Instead of moving out west, Thomas wanted to stay in Dayton, so the top-secret Dayton Project was created.
“Dayton was tasked with finding the chemical and metallurgical properties of an element to put in the initiators to make the bombs explode, go boom.”
During the work of the Dayton Project, the element Polonium-210 was discovered.
The work at the Dayton units, which were spread out throughout the Dayton area, contributed to the Trinity Test in New Mexico. It was used in the Fat Man atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, creating an end to World War II in 1945.
By the time the Dayton Project came to an end in 1947, it employed more than 300 people.
“At the end of the war, they need to consolidate it. And they picked Miamisburg, and Mound Lab was built.”
At Mound Lab, the Polonium work continued, which eventually evolved to create detonators and even nuclear batteries still utilized in spacecraft.
Operations shut down in 2003. All of the site’s history is on display for the public to view for free at the Discovery Center.
“We would like to have people come in and learn. Dayton is known for so many things and this is just another feather in his cap.”
Around the Miami Valley, there are a number of other sites linked to the Manhattan Project. The National Aviation Heritage Area compiled a full list of the sites, which you can view here.