Thousands visit historic Trinity Site during open house

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SOCORRO COUNTY, N.M. – The movie “Oppenheimer” is continuing to have in impact on our state.

On Saturday, there were huge crowds at the Trinity Site for a rare open house to see the test site of the first atomic bomb.

People lined the road to one of the most exclusive national parks in the country. Early birds arrived hours before the gates opened at 8 a.m. 

“We had already heard of the site before. But after we saw the Oppenheimer movie, we thought it’d be really cool to come see it,” said Laurel Houston, a visitor from Dallas. 

This year, a long line of cars waited to see the test site of the first atomic bomb after the “Oppenheimer” movie released this summer. 

“It’s unique that you actually get to stand in the place where the world changed,” said Houston.

The site only opens twice a year. Site officials say over 3,000 people came out, and some with other goals than just site seeing.

“I think all of us think of the bomb and the creation of the bomb, and then what happens on the battlefield or not. But there’s other consequences, and one of the big ones is all of this waste, this has been produced,” said Cynthia Wheeler with the 285 Alliance. 

Mark Swan and his wife were passing through New Mexico from Minnesota and had to stop. 

“We were in Alamogordo this whole past week, and people were talking about the fact that the Trinity Site is going to be open only twice a year, and we are lucky enough to be here,” said Swan. 

The open house also includes a tour of the McDonald House. That is where the plutonium core was put in the world’s first atomic bomb. The test site is just a few miles away from the house.

Swan says walking the same halls as Oppenheimer was amazing. 

“It’s a bit overwhelming to think that they put that much power together in a little ranch like this, and then blew it up. But it’s scientifically over overwhelming to try to understand what they accomplished here,” said Swan. 

The open house gives visitors a window into the past and what life was like on the Manhattan Project. 

Site officials say the missile range was almost used for filming in the actual movie. 

“Chris Nolan actually came out and toured the site to get a feel for it, because he’s really into kind of getting a feel for these historic films when he works on them. And they even did ask about the possibility of filming the Trinity scenes somewhere in the nearby area,” said Drew Hamilton a public affairs specialist of White Sands Missile Range, Army Test and Evaluation Command.

One school group came all the way from Canada to see the sites in-person after studying the Manhattan Project. 

“It is so incredible being here. And I, you know, being in this little crater, just knowing that this is the site where the human history changed forever, is really, really interesting feeling,” said Dylan Schoing, a visitor from Canada. 

Only harmless radioactivity remains at the site where man became death or the destroyer of the worlds. 

If you missed this weekend’s open house, the next chance we’ll get to come out to the Trinity Site will be April 2024.