From early atomic bombs to interstellar spacecraft, the Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg supplied radioactive materials to the Department of Defense and NASA through the Department of Energy since its construction in 1948.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
About the Author