The world’s first atomic bomb mounted inside the tower at Trinity Site. The steel frame of the tower was almost completely destroyed by the detonation. (courtesy White Sands Missile Range)
July 16, 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of an event that was destined to change the course of world history.
On that day in 1945, the United States secretly detonated the first atomic bomb at Trinity Site in New Mexico. World War II came to an end just months later during a 20 minute ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered to the Allies.
As he affixed his signature to the agreement, the Supreme Commander of the Allies, General Douglas MacArthur, said, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.”
Twice each year, people from around the world pay somber homage to the beginning of the atomic age by visiting Trinity Site, on the north end of White Sands Missile Range in Southern New Mexico.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History hosts a motor coach tour to the site as part of a fundraiser for its Foundation. Local historians accompany guests on the coach, giving an in-depth talk on the bomb and its history, along with unique insight into local history.
Once on site, guests enjoy a brown bag lunch, visit to the McDonald House, where the final bomb assembly was performed, and go on a walking tour of Trinity Site. On the way back, guests wind down with an onboard movie and upon return to the museum are treated to a guided tour.
Trinity Site is open to the public twice each year, on the first Saturday in April and again on the first Saturday in October.
White Sands Missile Range hosts the annual events because this national historic site is on the north end of the normally highly restricted range. Special interpretation at the site is provided by Missile Range staff. All visitors must have government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
“If you’ve never been to Trinity Site, this is the best way to travel there. On the coach, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the trip comfortably and learn about the bomb and Trinity Site from our volunteer travel guides,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll.
The roughly 140 mile round trip from Alamogordo to Trinity Site crosses through a large area of White Sands Missile Range. There are no facilities and no stopping along the route once the caravan has left Tularosa, although the museum’s motor coach does have onboard restrooms.
Limited advance tickets are on sale now through the museum’s marketing department or online, and include the round trip to Trinity Site, guided tour, brownbag lunch, and guided tour of the museum.
The ticket price is $85 per person, or $75 for museum members. In addition, the collectible book “Trinity Site: The History of an Atomic Bomb Historic Landmark” by local historian Jim Eckles is available for purchase when guests register online, or the book can be purchased separately at the museum gift shop.
To reserve tickets or for more information, call 575-437-2840 ext. 41132 or visit the museum’s website.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History, Smithsonian Affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at www.nmspacemuseum.org website or ‘like’ their Facebook page.