Project Gnome Atomic Explosion Site
Loving, New Mexico
Could an atomic bomb, exploded underground, melt an underground salt deposit? The Atomic Energy Commission believed that it could -- and if it could, then the superhot salt, safely buried, could turn nearby water into steam that could then be piped to turbines to generate electricity! That was the idea anyway.
On December 10, 1961, a 3-kiloton bomb was exploded only 1,200 feet below the surface. Steam and smoke poured from the hole -- but it was radioactive, making the experiment useless and rendering the site off-limits for days. The hole was eventually plugged and a plaque now marks the spot, and warns visitors against digging for souvenirs. That's prudent, as this is the most accessible atomic explosion site in the U.S. -- only 40 minutes' drive from downtown Carlsbad.