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 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 three-kiloton bomb was exploded only 1,200 feet below the surface. Steam and smoke poured from the hole -- radioactive steam and smoke, making the experiment useless and rendering the site off-limits for days. The hole was eventually plugged and a plaque now marks the spot. It warns visitors against digging for potentially still-radioactive souvenirs. That's prudent, because while there are several atomic explosion sites in the U.S. that you can still visit, the Project Gnome site is the closest to a major metropolitan area -- only a 40 minute 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 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.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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In the region:
Jal Lake, Metal Cattle Drive Sculpture, Jal, NM - 40 mi.

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