Earth shattering explosions and silent electric power are two sides of Mound Laboratories work in Miamisburg since the dawn of the atomic age.

WATCH: The amazing transformation of the historic Mound Labs in Miamisburg, from atomic triggers to office space

The Mound Museum in Miamisburg houses technology, worker information and photographs of its' history including this photograph taken in 1946 of a worker on the first glove box line processing polonium. Photo from the Mound Museum archive
Photo: Lisa Powell

The Mound Laboratory grew from a part of the Manhattan Project (the secret development of the first atomic bomb) known as the Dayton Project. The chemical company Monsanto ran the Dayton Project, which was responsible for manufacturing the triggers that start the atomic chain reaction in the bombs. 

PHOTOS: Atomic bomb triggers and radioactive electric generators: Made in Dayton

Aerial view of Mound Laboratories in 1961. FILE

By the end of World War II, Monsanto was looking for a way to expand production of the bomb triggers and found a suitable site adjacent to the Miamisburg Indian Mound State Park, where production began in 1949. The facility became the Mound Laboratories. 

RELATED:  Top secrets revealed in new Mound Laboratories museum

Aerial view of Mound Laboratories in 1978. FILE

With the concentrated expertise in radioactive isotopes at Mound, scientists invented a power generator that has no moving parts. Known as a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), the machine converts heat from radioactive decay into electricity and can last for almost 100 years. 

University of Dayton Research Institute scientists and engineers Chadwick Barklay, left, Daniel Kramer and Richard Harris observe a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator that converts the heat from the natural decay of a plutonium-238 dioxide to electricity through solid-state thermoelectric couples. Their laboratory is testing two of the MMRTG units that are cousins of the of New Horizons Pluto mission power unit designed in Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

The RTGs became the power source of choice for many spacecraft including the Apollo program, Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini, New Horizons, Viking, Galileo, Ulysses and others. 

1993 Aerial views of Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, a few years before the facility was closed. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

The Mound operated from 1948 to 2003 and at its peak employed 2,500 people and occupied 116 buildings covering 306 acres. The facility is now called the Mound Business Park and is managed by the Mound Development Corporation. 

RELATED: Greatest Generation: He waited, surrounded by smoke, for an attack that never came

1993 Aerial views of Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, a few years before the facility was closed. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

The Mound Cold War Discovery Center is now open. Regular hours will be Wednesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment for tours and school visits. Admission is free. The museum is located at 1075 Mound Rd. in Miamisburg.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X