Now anyone can learn about the once top-secret work that went on behind secure walls in Miamisburg.
The Mound Cold War Discovery Center, a joint effort between Dayton History, the Department of Energy and the Mound Science and Energy Museum Association, will open Monday.
“I knew secret stuff happened here at the Mound, but no one ever really knew what that stuff was,” said Mandy Askins, the site manager of the new museum. “Now we can talk about it, share it with the world, and show that Dayton has a lot more history than what we even know.”
Mound Laboratory was the first Atomic Energy Commission site to be constructed after World War II. The facility continued the work of the Dayton Project, which was a part of the Manhattan Project, to build the worlds’ first atomic bomb, said Askins.
“The Dayton Project specifically processed the polonium for the initiators -- or the trigger -- that would kick start the chain reaction for the atomic bomb,” she said.
The Mound operated from 1948 to 2003 and at its peak employed 2,500 people and occupied 116 buildings covering 306 acres.
The new museum spans the more than 50-year history of the facility. Visitors will also learn about the invention of a nuclear battery, called an RTG, that powered NASA missions including Apollo, Voyager, Cassini.
“Space probes that are currently sending information back to earth – that wouldn’t be possible without Mound Laboratory, all its scientists and all the research and production done here,” said Askins.
“We have the birth of flight here, but we also have the birth of flight in space. Deep space flight wouldn’t have been possible without the invention of the RTG. I think it shows Dayton’s contribution globally to the world.”
The discovery center is designed for visitors of all ages and has multi-media kiosks and interactive displays.
“We’re here to educate people not just about Mound Laboratory or the Cold War but also about radiation, radioactivity and the science behind all the work that was done here at Mound,” Askins said.
Visitors can slip their hands into a glove box and mimic activities Mound Laboratory employees did when working with highly radioactive materials, learn about tritium employed in “glow in the dark” products and view a “bubble suit” worn by workers to protect them from radiation exposure.
A ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the Mound Cold War Discovery Center will be held Monday, April 23 at 10 a.m.
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.
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