Atomic Cannon.

Atomic Cannon

Field review by the editors.

Rock Island, Illinois

The idea of an Atomic Cannon makes sense, in an insane Cold War kind of way: if you build a gun big enough it can fire a nuclear warhead far enough that it won't kill the people who pull the trigger. As an atomic holocaust delivery system, a cannon is also a lot cheaper than a jet or a missile.

So the USA built about 20 Atomic Cannons in the 1950s, each 84 feet long, weighing over 83 tons. Each was known familiarly as, "Atomic Annie." One was even fired, once, at the Nevada Test Site, on May 25, 1953. The shell detonated 500 feet in the air with a 15 kiloton nuclear explosion, the same as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Despite their demonstrated effectiveness, the Cannons were retired from service in 1963. Several have survived as outdoor displays at museums and military installations. While memorable in concept, an Atomic Annie could visually be any other plugged-up piece of old military hardware. There are no special markings, flash protection screens, or radiation symbols. Guess if something went wrong, there's really no point.

Atomic Cannon

Rock Island Arsenal

Rodman Ave., Rock Island, IL
On an island between Rock Island, IL, and Davenport, IA. I-74 exit 2. Drive west on 7th Ave. to 14th St. Turn right and go straight down the street, up the ramp, across the 16th St. bridge to the island (You'll need a picture ID to enter the Island). You'll be on Rodman Ave. The cannon will be about a mile on your left, in Memorial Park.
Free. Show photo ID.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Abe Lincoln Saves a BridgeAbe Lincoln Saves a Bridge, Davenport, IA - 1 mi.
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Jake and Elwood Blues BrothersJake and Elwood Blues Brothers, Rock Island, IL - 2 mi.
In the region:
Norma Jean, Elephant Killed By Lightning, Oquawka, IL - 45 mi.

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February 25, 2020

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