Tim Folger in Discover Magazine:
In the heart of Las Vegas, amid the glitz and the ersatz versions of New York, Paris, and Luxor, stands a museum dedicated to the history of what must surely be humanity’s greatest gamble—that we could save the world from annihilation by building weapons of mass destruction. A city founded on fantasies and flimflam might seem an odd location for the Atomic Testing Museum, but more nuclear firepower has been unleashed in the desert near Las Vegas than anywhere else on Earth. From 1951 until a moratorium ended tests in 1992, the United States detonated at least 928 atomic weapons at what is now called the Nevada Test Site. More tests were probably conducted secretly. One hundred of the bombs exploded aboveground, including 23 that were more powerful than the bomb that razed Hiroshima.
There was no popular outcry when the U.S. government decided to test the country’s burgeoning nuclear arsenal just 65 miles northwest of the Las Vegas strip. Quite the opposite. The residents of what in 1950 was a small town of 24,624 could not have been more thrilled. With chilling exuberance, Nevada’s governor Charles Russell boasted in 1952 that the desert was blooming with atoms. In fact, the atomic testing program provided a huge boost to the local economy.
More here. [Photo shows “Miss Atomic Bomb” in a mushroom cloud costume, 1957.]