Visit Tri-Cities recently unveiled a new website to promote the national park in our backyard.
The new, independent website for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will provide more educational resources and tour information to the public, as well as unify and jointly promote the park’s three distinct segments as part of a new initiative to increase tourism traffic to the park.
The site was created in partnership with Explore Oak Ridge and the Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corp.
B Reactor and the former town sites of Hanford, White Bluffs and other settlements make up the park.
Established in 2015, the Manhattan Project park is comprised of sites at Hanford, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that were involved in the production of the two nuclear warheads dropped on Japan to end World War II.
Unlike a typical national park — designated areas recognized for their natural beauty or grandeur, like Mount Rainier — national historical parks preserve pivotal moments in human history and identify historic components and artifacts across a wide area without concrete boundaries, said Michael Novakovich, president of Visit Tri-Cities.
Fragments of the local site’s history are spread across Tri-Cities and the surrounding region, creating unique opportunities for tourism and historical preservation alike.
“The hope is to enrich people’s lives through the knowledge of our history, as well as to bring people to each one of our communities, providing economic impact,” said Novakovich, who announced the new tourism initiative July 16 at the Hanford unit’s interim visitor center at 2000 Logston Blvd. in Richland.
“We want more businesses to come into the community,” he said, adding that he hopes encouraging greater interest in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will create new opportunities for the region to leverage increased tourism traffic and, ultimately, stimulate the Tri-City economy.
He said more visitor traffic equates to more hotel rooms booked and other services used during guests’ stays, which translates to more money for community projects and a lower tax burden for residents.
Visit Tri-Cities and the other sites’ tourism organizations have been working together with a Washington, D.C.-based destination marketing firm, Tombras Group, to develop their strategy.
In addition, several local partners dedicated to telling Hanford’s story also have been working to attract more visitors.
In honor of the yearlong celebration of Hanford’s 75th anniversary, several partners attended the initiative’s launch to report on the events they’ve organized to provide more ways for Tri-Citians and visitors to the area to experience the Manhattan Project parks.
One major collaborative project is spearheaded by the Tri-Cities African American Community Cultural and Education Society, or AACCES, which is working closely with the National Park Service, city of Pasco and Hanford History Project to document African American migration, segregation and civil rights history.
On one front, AACCES is working with the Hanford History Project using money and support provided by the parks system and Department of Energy to conduct interviews with African Americans who worked at Hanford or lived in Tri-Cities from 1943-70. Their stories will add new perspectives to the Hanford History Project’s collection of more than 200 personal oral histories from the World War II era.
So far, about 30 interviews have been conducted, and project organizers continue to seek out voices to share their stories. They hope to publish the interviews online early next year.
AACCES also has been working closely with the city of Pasco to identify structures and sites in east and central Pasco significant to African Americans. (See related story on page 13.)
The goal of the collaborative effort is to create a virtual tour based on the inventory of structures and sites identified, as well as produce a historical context document to support two nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Through the experience of our history at the national park, we’ve identified the opportunity to recognize the need for peace and inclusion and diversity, and this national park provides us a great platform to have those deep and rich conversations so that we can build a better community and a better world,” Novakovich said.
The Hanford History Project organizers also are in the process of writing and publishing a series of four books on pre-Hanford history, the first of which is soon to be released.
Ride the Reactor is happening again this year on Sept. 22. It’s a 20-mile bike ride out around the B Reactor site, which includes a tour of the reactor and a catered lunch for participants 18 and older.
The registration fee is $40 with all proceeds benefiting the Hanford unit’s education program. The program’s goal is to provide age-appropriate programming, materials and opportunities for youth to learn about the Manhattan Project, said Becky Burghart, NPS Hanford site manager.
The Reach museum also continues to develop tour opportunities that combine experiences such as river boat tours with a museum component, as well as visits to the museum followed by a trip to B Reactor.
Reg Unterseher, associate conductor of the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, announced that his performers will be holding another B Reactor Concert Series the weekend of Sept. 28-30.
The B Reactor Museum Association continues to recruit new members and support the projects of other park partners. They are working to expand their souvenir product line for sale at the Hanford unit interim visitor center.
“It really provides for a rich experience as we work with our partners in Los Alamos and Oak Ridge to increase visitation across the nation and hopefully to draw in those international visitors as well so that we can truly recognize what happened to change the landscape of the world back then and change and create what we live in today. It’s an exciting endeavor,” Novakovich said.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park’s Hanford unit: nps.gov/mapr/hanford.htm.
Hanford’s 75th anniversary celebration: hanford75th.com.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park: manhattanprojectnationalpark.com.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!