The Forgotten Atomic Bomb Parties Of Las Vegas
By Aaron Short on Monday, November 11, 2013
For 10 years, from around 1952–1963, atomic tourism was a big deal. Nuclear testing was taking place about 80 kilometers (50 mi) from Las Vegas, and civilian tourists would get as close to the blast as they could to throw all-night parties in sight of the mushroom cloud. What followed sounds an awful lot like the back story to the game Fallout: New Vegas.
Above-ground nuclear testing began just outside Las Vegas in 1951. From the city itself, the large mushroom clouds were visible, reaching into the sky. To allay any fears the citizens of Vegas may have had, the government ran a successful PR campaign, convincing people that atom bombs were not only safe, but fun. Obviously, we now know that nuclear fallout causes all sort of horrible health problems, but back then they were told that if anyone was exposed to radiation, they could just take a shower and they’d be right as rain.
With the test site employing 10,000 people, it was soon seen as a boon to the Vegas economy. And with the bombs being dropped once every three weeks, Las Vegas became known unofficially as “Atomic City,” a tourist destination with its very own nuclear fireworks show. People came from all over America to see the spectacle and Vegas’s population more than doubled. In order to cash in on this, businesses would advertise hotel rooms based on their views of the explosion and people would even venture out into the desert themselves with “atomic lunchboxes.”
Whenever a bomb was dropped, there would be “Dawn Bomb Parties.” These started at midnight, Vegas crooners performing until 4:00 AM, when the party would stop for the partygoers to silently watch the flash and resulting mushroom cloud bloom on the horizon. Elvis even had one of his first gigs here around 1952. Of course he was a relative unknown, and he didn’t go over too well at the time. There was even a new drink created. It was called an “Atomic Cocktail.” It was just one of many cash-ins, including the atomic hairdo and the atomic beauty pageant.
Even though the government was careful to make sure that the wind was blowing in such a way as to blow away any fallout, people as far away as Utah reported that their animals and livestock were getting sick. But no one in Vegas seemed to notice or care as it looked like the party would go on forever. Then, 235 bombs later, with Vegas’ economy $200 million richer, the 1963 Limited Test Ban put a stop to all above-ground nuke tests. Finally, the weirdest party in the world was over.
It seems to me that folks must have been a little crazy to want to get that close to an atomic blast. Ignorance and misinformation by the government had to have a lot to do with it, don't ya think?
Coffee out on the patio this morning. Another cold front is one the way tomorrow!
What? Do you mean that our government would deliberately mislead us? (Sound of manic laughter)
I know! Hard to believe, right?
Thanks for coming by today!
Lots of movies about the bomb back then. I remember a Mickey Rooney movie about him being caught in a test site.
Snowing here. How about some cream puffs for today?
I can't believe people were that ignorant as to think they were safe. What about the 2 bombs we dropped on Japan . Were those people safe? And then to have the Government mislead us - "Oh the Humanity" of it all. We had snow here yesterday; today is just downright cold.
235 bombs? That's a lot! I never really thought about the number of tests but I never imagined that many either.
I was a kid in Hawaii when they did a big "H" bomb test out n the pacific somewhere, my parents tried to wake me up to see the night sky turn colors...
The bombs dropped in Japan during WW2 was mentioned.
A terrible thing the first time, but Japan would not surrender. A terrible thing the second time and Japan did surrender, they were expecting a million (1,000,000) US causalities in taking the islands. Japan's surrender prevented that.
If you had a parent or grand parent involved in the military during WW2, those bombs may have had an unseen, positive effect on you.
I too knew of the testing but not the numbers and certainly not the parties.....can you imagine! I can't see evet wanting to be close enough to see them....29 with wind chill of 21 and about an inch of snow....yuck! Having hot tea this a.m. but those cream puffs sure sound good :))
The government was even lacking in truth back then. I was very young back then so don't know much about the era but parties good grief. Learned more about as I grew up still not a party time thing in my mind.
Coffee on the patio it is.
It will be another hot one here today in the 90's had to use the a/c yesterday evening.
I saw that movie! Pretty funny!
Cream puffs sound great!
Thanks for coming over this morning!
Does seem like a stupid thing to do, but to think they did it all with the blessings of the government!
Cold front coming in today...or so they say!
Thanks for dropping in today!
It does seem like a large numbers, doesn't it? Good thing Al Gore wasn't around!
I'm sure that the immediate surrender of the Japanese was the main reason for the atomic bombs.
Thanks for coming over today!
Seems to me that the farther away, the better! Some folks will use any reason to party, though.
Thanks for the visit this morning!
Yeah, it seems as though the government has never been real big on telling the truth!
Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!
I have been alive for every atomic and hydrogen bomb explosion. Does that mean I may be radioactive? Of course being a ham radio operator, I am "radio" active. . .
Post a Comment