Dayton Ohio and the surrounding area has a long history with inventions, technology, and war. The National Museum of the United States Air Force tells the story of the war. Dayton History at Carillon park tells the story of the technology. Now Dayton History has helped to preserve the history of a major component of technology in war. The Mound Cold war Center tells the story of the part Dayton played in creating some of the most destructive weapons ever used.
On August 6, 1945 the United States, while at war with Japan, dropped the most destructive weapon ever used. The Atomic Bomb was again used on August 9th. These two bombs ended the war and changed the world forever. The bombs were so powerful that they were developed under the most secret project of the early 20th century. The Manhattan Project, while most known for being at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, had sites across the country. One such site was in Dayton, Ohio.
The Dayton Project was created to make the neutron initiator that would start the reaction process in the bomb. Many sites through out Dayton were used. The Dayton Project was the only portion of the larger Manhattan Project to be based in an urban area. At the end of the war the US Government decided to continue stockpiling weapons in case of future tensions. The weapons would need initiators, or triggers, and decided to keep making them in Dayton. Because this work was going to be done on a larger scale a suitable location outside of town was needed. A location was found near the ancient Adena culture’s burial mound in Miamisburg Ohio. The Atomic Energy Commission built its first site after the war and called it Mound Laboratories.
As tensions between the United States and the USSR grew into the Cold War, Mound Laboratories was in full swing. Later, as the stock pile grew large enough and the space race picked up the labs used the nuclear technology to invent a new type of battery. These batteries would be able to power a device for over 40 years. They were perfect for long duration space flight were battery replacement was not an option. Some of them have even left our solar system aboard the voyager spacecraft. The batteries are said to last until 2025.
Eventually the Mound Laboratories ended operations and the site was cleaned up. The buildings have either been taken down or turned into office space. A few of the building remained empty and workers from the labs decided to try and tell its story and preserve its history. The museum they created, while small, did a good job of telling the untold story. The times were not great and the presentation was a little haphazard. Eventually they joined forces with Dayton History to completely redesign the small museum. The New creation is the Mound Cold War Museum.
The Museum is a one large room with displays along the walls that tell the story of the mound. Using videos, pictures and artifacts the museum unfolds the work from the early days of the Dayton Project to the clean up and closure. Many of the displays are just text and pictures, or artifacts and text. Some however are larger interactive items, such as a working Geiger counter and a glove box. Upstairs is the archives with information on almost every worker at the mounds, and photos of the workers experience.
Overall the story gets across with out bogging down too much in the details. With the price of admission being free, it is well worth the price. Adding in a trip to the Miamisburg Mound across the street, and a stop downtown for lunch, one can easily fill a morning.