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Title: A Cultural Resources Inventory and Historical Evaluation of the Smoky Atmospheric Nuclear Test, Areas 8, 9, and 10, Nevada National Security Site, Nye County, Nevada

This report presents the results of a National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 cultural resources inventory and historical evaluation of the 1957 Smoky atmospheric test location on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The Desert Research Institute (DRI) was tasked to conduct a cultural resources study of the Smoky test area as a result of a proposed undertaking by the Department of Energy Environmental Management. This undertaking involves investigating Corrective Action Unit (CAU) 550 for potential contaminants of concern as delineated in a Corrective Action Investigation Plan. CAU 550 is an area that spatially overlaps portions of the Smoky test location. Smoky, T-2c, was a 44 kt atmospheric nuclear test detonated at 5:30 am on August 31, 1957, on top of a 213.4 m (700 ft) 200 ton tower (T-2c) in Area 8 of the NNSS. Smoky was a weapons related test of the Plumbbob series (number 19) and part of the Department of Defense Exercise Desert Rock VII and VIII. The cultural resources effort involved the development of a historic context based on archival documents and engineering records, the inventory of the cultural resources in the Smoky test area and an associated military trench location in Areas 9 andmore » 10, and an evaluation of the National Register eligibility of the cultural resources. The inventory of the Smoky test area resulted in the identification of structures, features, and artifacts related to the physical development of the test location and the post-test remains. The Smoky test area was designated historic district D104 and coincides with a historic archaeological site recorded as 26NY14794 and the military trenches designed for troop observation, site 26NY14795. Sites 26NY14794 and 26NY14795 are spatially discrete with the trenches located 4.3 km (2.7 mi) southeast of the Smoky ground zero. As a result, historic district D104 is discontiguous and in total it covers 151.4 hectares (374 acres). The Smoky test location, recorded as historic district D104 and historic sites 26NY14794 and 26NY14795, is the best preserved post-shot atmospheric nuclear tower test at the NNSS and possibly in the world. It is of local, national, and international importance due to nuclear testing’s pivotal role in the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The district and sites are linked to the historic theme of atmospheric nuclear testing. D104 retains aspects of the engineering plan and design for the Smoky tower, instrument stations used to measure test effects, German and French personnel shelters, and military trenches. A total of 33 structures contribute to the significance of D104. Artifacts and features provide significant post-test information. Historic district D104 (discontiguous) and historic site 26NY14794 (the Smoky test area) are eligible for listing on the NRHP under Criteria A, B, C, and D. The historic site 26NY14795 (the Smoky military trenches) is eligible for listing under Criteria A, C, and D. Several items have been identified for removal by the CAU 550 investigation. However, none of them is associated with the Smoky atmospheric test, but with later activities in the area. The military trenches are not part of CAU 550 and no actions are planned there. A proposed closure of the Smoky test area with restrictions will limit access and contribute to the preservation of the cultural resources. It is recommended that the Smoky historic district and sites be included in the NNSS cultural resources monitoring program.« less
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  1. Desert Research Inst. (DRI), Reno, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Desert Research Institute, Nevada University, Reno, NV (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States