Project Gnome site.

Project Gnome Atomic Explosion Site

Field review by the editors.

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.

Project Gnome Atomic Explosion Site

Address:
Mobley Ranch Rd, Loving, NM
Directions:
From Carlsbad, drive southeast on US Hwy 285. Before reaching Loving, turn east on Hwy 31/Potash Mines Rd. After around seven miles, turn right (east) on Hwy 128. Drive for a little over seven miles, then turn right onto CR-795/Mobley Ranch Rd. After a half-mile, CR-795/Mobley Ranch Rd forks to the right. Ignore it and continue straight ahead. After 4.5 miles a small dirt road appears on the left. Turn and drive east to the marker. NOTE: There are no signs to help direct you to the site and there are several side roads that are not the right route. The top of the concrete monument is just visible from the access road before you turn left on a much smaller path that goes 250 yards due east directly to the site.
Admission:
Free
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November 1, 2014

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