Cold War: Soviets, Spies and Secrets features a family of mannequins, on loan from the National Atomic Testing Museum. At first glance, the mannequins replicate a typical living arrangement from the 1950s but their purpose was actually quite grim.
These mannequins were set-up in Doom Town to be used in atomic tests as a way to understand radiation effects on people. Operation Doorstep and Operative Cue were atomic civil defense tests ordered by President Truman in the 1950s that used mannequins placed in homes and cars.
Other artifacts on loan from the National Atomic Testing Museum include:
Trinitite Rock from Trinity Test- Trinitite, also known as Alamogordo glass, is the residue left on the desert floor after the plutonium-based Trinity nuclear bomb test on July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. It is mildly radioactive but safe to handle. The glass is primarily composed of arkosic sand composed of quartz grains and feldspar. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, samples were gathered and sold to mineral collectors as a novelty.
Uranium Rock- this sample of uranium is a Uraninite and Gummite mineral. When Uraninite weathers, yellow gummite becomes present.
Hotline Phone- this 1960s rotary phone provided one-way information on atomic tests to VIPS needing quick access to knowledge regarding tests and threats.
Doom Town: The Home of Nevada’s Nuclear Family
If ever there was a town in America that you would not want to live in, it was Doom Town, Nevada.
Built on the grounds of the Nevada Testing Site, two versions of Doom Town were constructed between 1952 and 1955 to examine how a typical American community would fare in the event of a nuclear attack.
Each Doom Town was complete with houses constructed from a variety of building materials, gas stations, commercial buildings, and utilities. Cars, trucks, and other vehicles were parked on Doom Town’s streets.
The completely furnished houses were placed at various distances ranging from 3,500 feet to 7,500 feet from the location of the blast. Eight different underground shelters were constructed behind the various homes to determine which were most effective in protecting “residents” of the ill-fated town.
Doom Town’s homes were occupied by representations of typical American families – fully dressed mannequins, each wearing clothing made of different materials. Other mannequins were placed outside at staggered distances from the blast site, to evaluate if and how they would survive a nuclear blast.
As expected, the structures nearest the nuclear blast – about 6/10 of a mile – were almost completely destroyed. Those located furthest away – about 1.5 miles – suffered significant damage but remained standing.
As for the “people,” one newspaper reported that, “Dummies lay dead and dying in basements, living rooms, kitchen, bedrooms…. A mannequin tot…was blown out of bed and showered with needle-sharp glass fragments.”
Doom Town demonstrated the deadly power of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Cold War: Soviets, Spies and Secrets is included with admission to the Nixon Library. The Nixon Library is open seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Nixon Library admission is $25 for adults, $21 for seniors, $19 for high school and college students, $19 for retired military, active military are free, children 5-11 for $15 and children 4 and under are free.
Nixon Foundation Members enjoy complimentary admission to the exhibit as part of their membership benefits.