In August 1945, citizens of this Secret City learned, most of them for the first time, that their hard work had made possible a weapon that was instrumental in bringing peace to a world anguished by the brutal, six-year war in which 54 million people died. The remarkable story of Oak Ridge's $1.1 billion role in the Manhattan Project - the huge national effort to develop the atomic bomb before Hitler's Germany did - is summarized in this Secret City Commemorative Walk. Beginning in late 1942, thousands of construction workers, engineers, scientists, technicians, and others converged on this quiet East Tennessee farmland to accomplish in just two-and-a-half years a feat unparalleled in history. The top priority work had to be kept highly secret, not only from the public outside the fence, but from most of the workers as well. All their amazing new science and engineering succeeded. An invasion of Japan that would have cost many lives was avoided; the war was finally won. Stroll the Commemorative Walk and learn what was done here from the plaques on monuments along the walkway. Stories of what it was like to live here unfold on the historical markers outside the walk. And visit the long walls where are honored some of the thousands who came here to work during the Manhattan Project years or during the first years of exciting
peacetime applications of nuclear science and start of transitioning to a "normal" community. The Secret City's gates were opened to the outside world March 19, 1949.
This Plaque Erected in Honor of the Courageous and Visionary Government Officials Who Planned and Organized the Manhattan Project By the Family of William J. Wilcox, Jr., June 2005.