Friday, May 31, 2019

RonnieAdventure #0362 - Huntington Beach Part III

The Old World German Village in Huntington Beach is known for its world-famous Oktoberfest celebration and authentic award-winning restaurants and pubs. During the other months, special events are held, which includes the famous Dachshund Races. Unfortunately, I was there during a week-day morning when there was very little activity.

Located across the street from the Old World German Village is a outdoor Vans Skate Park, which attracts young people with some amazing talents. Too bad they didn't have something like this when I was a kid. Actually, I tried skateboarding once when I was older; but it is harder than it looks and the concrete is harder than when I was younger.

Historic Winersburg consists of a 4.5-acre site that is considered to be one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. In 2015 The National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., named Wintersburg a National Treasure, stating that Wintersburg is "among the only surviving Japanese-American properties acquired before California passed anti-immigration land laws in 1913 and 1920. Further, as the entire Wintersburg community was incarcerated during World War II, the site is iconic of our nation's civil rights history and a reminder of the struggle for social justice that many immigrant communities continue to face today." (The Alien Land Law of 1913 prohibited Japan born residents from owning land in California.) 

Lands that were part of the Rancho Las Bolsas holdings were purchased in 1908 by Japanese immigrant pioneers and developed as the C.M. Furuta Gold Fish Farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission. Over the years various improvements were made to the property, some of which still exist -- 1910 Japanese Presbyterian Mission, 1910 Manse (parsonage), 1934 Great Depression-Era Japaneses Presbyterian Church, 1912 Furuta bungalow, Furuta barn, and 1947 post-World War II Furuta ranch house.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered the removal of all Japanese people from the West Coast and placed in confinement camps. While in confinement, local non-Japanese clergy watched over Wintersburg and the buildings were used as the Pilgrim House for African Americans.

When the Furuta family returned to the property in 1945, the goldfish ponds were filled with silt and the farm lands were "in disrepair." Rather than return to raising goldfish, the farm was converted to growing water lilies and went on to become the largest provider of cut water lily flowers in the United States.

In 2004 the property was sold to Rainbow Environmental services and then in 2011 Rainbow applied for commercial zoning on the property and proposed to demolish the structures. The City of Huntington Beach approved the rezoning and then the Ocean View School District, on behalf of Oak View Elementary School that is adjacent to the property, filed two lawsuits - one against the City of Huntington and one against Rainbow Environmental Services. In 2014 the National Trust for Historic Preservation became involved and in 2015 Orange County Superior Court ordered the City of Hunting Beach to rescind the rezoning because of the historical significance it represented. The latest information I could locate on Wintersburg was that in 2018 Republic Services, Inc. (formerly Rainbow Environmental Services) announced that they were going to sell the property to Public Storage for a self-storage facility!

"Old Sarge" (also known as Major Von Luckner III) was a World War II German Shepherd that was part of the Marine Corps "Devil Dogs." During his five years of service, "Old Sarge" is credited with saving the lives of nine marines. He was wounded three times and for his service he was awarded a Purple Heart with two clusters and a Silver Star. When "Old Sarge" died, he was buried in the Huntington Beach Sea Breeze Pet Cemetery and given a full military funeral with a 15-gun salute.  


Saturday, May 25, 2019

RonnieAdventure #0361 - National Atomic Testing Museum - Las Vegas, Nevada

The National Atomic Testing Museum located in Las Vegas is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and one of only 37 National Museums in the United States. The museum opened in 2005 to document the history of nuclear testing, with emphasis on the Nevada Test Site north Las Vegas from the period of 1951 to 1992. Worldwide nuclear testing stopped when a testing moratorium agreed to by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty went into effect on September 10, 1992. During the time period that the Nevada Test Site was conducting nuclear test, 928 nuclear detonations were conducted. When I toured the site several years ago, the guide told us that the 929th test was scheduled to be detonated just hours after the Treaty was signed, but was canceled at the last minute due to the Treaty moratorium. Everything for the nuclear detonation is still in place and we did get to observe the structure and facilities from a short distance away.

In August 1939, Albert Einstein wrote President Roosevelt four letters explaining the possibility of making an extremely powerful bomb using uranium, and emphasized that Nazi Germany was already working on a nuclear device. In October, President Roosevelt established a panel to investigate Einstein's suggestion and the investigation became known as the Manhattan Project.

As part of the WW II War effort, during the summer of 1942 Nuclear testing was started at the University of Chicago to see if it would be possible to build an Atomic Bomb. The first successful, controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurred on December 2, 1942.

For security reasons, and to be far from population centers in case of an accident, on March 15, 1943, a weapons Laboratory was established near Los Alamos, New Mexico; and all people working on the Manhattan Project were transferred to the new facility.

Although it took longer than anticipated, the Manhattan Project staff finally developed a nuclear device known as "Trinity." The device was detonated at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945 in the Jornada del Muerto Valley on the Alamogordo Bombing Range that was part of the Los Alamos facility. The nuclear yield of the detonation was equivalent to the energy released by detonating 19 kilograms of TNT.

Unknown Photographer
After the successful detonation of "Trinity," Allied Forces broadcast the Potsdam Declaration to Japan demanding unconditional surrender, but Japan rejected the Declaration. It was believed that an invasion of Japan would be very bloody, with about one million American casualties alone; so policy makers concluded that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan would end the war with the least bloodshed. In August 1945, two atomic bombs named "little Boy" and "Fat Man" were detonated over Japan and Japan surrendered five days later, avoiding massive allied casualties and additional Japanese deaths.

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After WW II President Dwight Eisenhower said "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid;" and he encouraged continual work on developing atomic bombs.

The first test series after the War was called Operation Crossroads, conducted in the summer of 1946 at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, followed by tests at nearby Enewetak Atoll where there was more land to install test structures and scientific instruments. Between 1946 and 1958, in total 23 nuclear devices were detonated at Bikini and 43 at Enewetak. In addition, there were 39 open ocean tests, 24 which originated from Christmas Island, 12 from Johnson Island, and 3 from naval vessels at sea.

On October 31, 1952, the first thermonuclear device, code named "Mike," was detonated on the surface of Elugelab Island at Enewetok Atoll. The blast obliterated the island and left an underwater crater 6,240 feet wide and 164 feet deep. The blast was so intense that even veteran bomb observers on ships 35 miles away were reported to have been terrified.

Unknown Photographer
Then, on November 15, 1952, the largest American fission bomb (code name "King") was detonated above Enewetak Atoll.

Maintaining a task force in the South Pacific was costly and there were many logistical and scheduling problems, so President Truman authorized Project Nutmeg to assess the possibility of locating an alternate atomic weapons proving ground within the continental United States.

On December 18, 1950, 680 acres of Federally owned land that was part of the Las Vegas Bombing and Gunnery Range was chosen as the new continental Nevada Test Site because of its remoteness far from population centers and favorable year-round testing conditions. Over the years the Test Site was expanded and now contains 1,375 acres of land, which is an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Yucca Mountain, a proposed nuclear waste repository for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive wast, is located on the Test Site.

In early 1951 a base camp was established just off of Highway 95, which is the main highway from Las Vegas to Reno, and a Post Office was opened. The base camp was named "Mercury," after the name of a dirt trail that led from the highway to an abandoned mine on the Test Site. 

When the Test Site opened, most employees worked six days a week and stayed in prefabricated four- and eight-person plywood huts called "hutments" that contained bunk beds surrounding a potbelly stove. The hutments were soon replaced with wooden dormitories and four-man trailers, with a limited number of two-person trailers for married couples. Housing cost was 50 cents a night.

The first test was conducted at the Nevada Test Site on January 27, 1951.

 At the Test Site grew, Mercury was upgraded with a large cafeteria, fire station, radio-logical laboratory, medical clinic, and recreation facilities.

At first the City of Las Vegas was opposed to the Test Site because it was assumed that the nuclear testing would have a negative impact on tourism. However, just the opposite happened! People starting flocking to Las Vegas just to see the "dazzling fireballs" that were brighter than the sun. Mushroom clouds started appearing on souvenirs and atomic cocktails became a popular drink. In 1957 they even had a Miss Atomic Bomb girl!

On July 19, 1957, the first and only air-to-air Genie nuclear missile was launched from an F-89J Scorpion Interceptor over Yucca Flats at the Test Site.

Many of the underground tunnels at the Test Site were constructed using decouplers to limit the motion and save equipment during a test blast.

In May 1955, the importance of the Test Site increased substantially when at the United Nations Disarmament Conference the United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement that prohibited all nuclear testing, except underground nuclear detonations.

To conduct an underground detonation, large holes 4-10 feet in diameter were drilled thousands of feet deep and then specially built cameras that could take 360-degree pictures were lowered into the hole to obtain geological data. Once the hole was drilled and approved for testing, a large enclosure was built over the hole.

Unknown Photographer
Special racks were built that contained the nuclear device at the base and then an extensive instrumentation package, including the firing hardware, was placed over the nuclear device. The hole was then sealed to contain radioactive debris and gas leakage after the detonation.

Unknown Artist

Detonation times were published in advance, so all of the people in Las Vegas could come out and watch the bright light and mushroom cloud that formed after the detonation.

Unknown Photographer
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By the time nuclear testing stopped, the Test Site was covered with craters that were left by the nuclear explosions.

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Unknown Photographer
On December 8, 1962, President Kennedy toured the Test Site and watched testing of an experimental nuclear rocket engine.

Unknown Photographer

Unknown Photographer
On display at the museum is a 350 B-53 bomb that was used by the military for a number of years. The bombs were produced between 1961 and 1965, with the last one disassembled on October 25, 2011.

Also on display is a B-61 nuclear bomb that was conceived in 1960 and is still part of the military nuclear stockpile as a tactical and strategic weapon. It has a "variable yield" which means "its explosive potential can be selected (called dial a yield) to vary between 0.3 to 300 kilotons of explosive force. To put that in perspective, the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima had about 15 kilotons of explosive force." The bomb's technology is somewhat dated because vacuum tubes are still used to keep the bomb's radar functional.

For those that would like to see a nuclear blast, the Ground Zero Theater simulates a nuclear blast with sound and vibrations that accompany a short movie.

Photo of movie by unknown photographer
Although I saw doors to an Area 51 theater, the doors were locked.

When leaving the building, you can have your picture taken with "Robby the Robot" from the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet. Robby was also featured in a number of other science fiction movies and television programs. I remember seeing the movie Forbidden Planet when I was a kid and then I went home and had nightmares! I told my grandkids about the movie, so they rented it and thought that it was a comedy. How times change!

And, after learning about nuclear devices, you can blast across the street and get a Desi Burrito from the first Indian drive-through restaurant in Las Vegas. You can even get your Indo-Mexican burrito with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options and Makhani or Korma sauce!