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Trinity Site Visit—Thursday, October 14, 2004

Please Note: Click here for important
updates regarding the Trinity Site Visit
.

No onsite registration and no refunds for the Trinity Site Visit.

Marker sits at exact ground
Marker sits at exact ground
zero at the Trinity Site.

Two and a half hours’ drive from the New Mexico site of the 2004 Congress meeting sits the valley known for centuries as Jornada del Meurto, the Journey of Death. There on Monday, July 16, 1945, the pre-dawn desert was suddenly lit with incredible brilliance as the world’s first nuclear explosion was detonated at 5:29:45 AM. Since that moment the world has never been the same.

  The McDonald Ranch House, where the plutonium core was assembled.
 .

The McDonald Ranch House, where the plutonium core was assembled.

The Trinity Site captures a significant moment almost frozen in time. On the desert floor you can still see the trinitite, a green, gritty, glassy mineral formed by the fervent heat of the atomic blast. A small section of rebar from the shot tower emerges from the ground. The steel vessel called Jumbo rusts slowly away 800 feet from ground zero. The earthen huts built for cameras and observers are slowly crumbling but still recognizable. Two miles away the MacDonald family’s ranch house, where the plutonium core was assembled, has been restored to its 1945 state.

Trinity Site explosion at .025 seconds
 Trinity Site explosion at
.025 seconds.

At ground zero you stand next to the monument and listen to the silence and your own thoughts. You stand under the bright New Mexico sun and imagine being here yourself in 1945 when the artificial sun lit up 100 feet over your head. You then imagine the consequences of that morning which are now our permanent inheritance. You realize that you are in the presence of something great and awesome, stark in its beauty, sobering in its implications. The desert and the Trinity site seem timeless, but what happened here divides human history into “before Trinity” and “after Trinity.”

  Birds-eye view of the Trinity Site .
 .

Birds-eye view of the Trinity Site .

The 51,500-acre area, which is now on the White Sands Missile Range, was declared a national historic landmark in 1975, and is open to the public twice a year. Through a special agreement with the White Sands Missile Range, the site will be open exclusively for Sigma Pi Sigma Congress participants who arrive a day early to tour, Thursday, October 14, 2004.

Authentic Southwestern Lunch

The Owl Bar & Cafe 

Following the vist to the Trinity Site and the McDonlad Ranch House, our group will proceed to the junction of Highway 360 and Highway One in San Antonio, NM—a corner with a history. The Owl Bar and Café, famous for its green chile cheeseburgers, served the men who prepared the Trinity Site for the first test of the atomic bomb. Photos and articles decorate the walls.

  Scientists working on the Manhattan Project frequented the Owl Bar & Cafe in San Antonio, NM.
 .

Scientists working on the Manhattan Project frequented the Owl Bar & Cafe in San Antonio, NM.

Word-of-mouth says these are the best hamburgers in New Mexico, and knowledgeable travelers on Interstate 25 adjust their schedules in order to reach San Antonio and the restaurant at lunch time. Since our group is quite large, will will arrive at the Owl Café in two shifts.

IMPORTANT UPDATES (pdf version)
Because of the large number of registrants, meeting schedule constraints and policy changes at the White Sands Missile Range, there are several items we need to bring to your attention.

  • All participants have been assigned to a color-coded bus: Red, Yellow, Green or Blue. Buses begin boarding at the Hilton Albuquerque at 6:30am and will leave the hotel PROMPTLY at 7:00am. Lunch will be in two shifts, one at 12:30 and one at 1:45.
  • You MUST present a photo ID to board the bus and to enter the White Sands Missile Range.
  • Because lunch is rather late, we encourage you to arrive already having eaten breakfast, and to bring water & snacks, as we will be in the desert with few facilities available.

1) Lunch Plans
Due to a policy change at White Sands Missile Range, lunch is no longer served at the McDonald Ranch House. We have found a wonderful alternative, however. We have arranged to eat at the well-known Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio, NM. The Owl, famous for its green chile` cheeseburgers, served the men who prepared the Trinity Site for the first test of the atomic bomb.

Lunch consists of a cheeseburger with green chile` on the side, french fries or onion rings, and a drink. Vegetarian options include green salads, vegetarian pinto beans, and grilled cheese sandwiches. If you would like a vegetarian meal and did not indicate so on your registration form, please email the national office at sps@aip.org by Monday, October 11th.

2) Lunch Times
Since our group has become so large, we will be eating lunch in two shifts (two busloads at a time). The first two buses (RED and YELLOW) will depart the McDonald Ranch Site at approximately 11:45am and eat at 12:30pm; the final two buses (GREEN and BLUE) will depart the McDonald Ranch site at approximately 12:00pm, and will stop over at the nearby Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. At 1:30pm the GREEN & BLUE buses will depart the Wildlife Refuge for the Owl Café, eating at approximately 1:45pm. For information on the wildlife refuge visit: http://southwest.fws.gov/refuges/newmex/bosque.

3) Preparation
We will begin boarding the buses for the Trinity Site Visit at 6:30am. The buses will depart from the Hilton Albuquerque promptly at 7:00am (the Fairfield Inn Albuquerque is right next to the Hilton). Everyone MUST present a valid photo ID (drivers license, passport, or state ID). Arrive already having eaten breakfast; bring water and snacks as lunch for some will not be served until approximately 1:45pm for some (see item #2 above).

Jeans are a good choice of clothing. It will likely be chilly in the morning, so you may want to wear a jacket. Sunscreen is advisable. It is usually sunny and warm in the afternoon.

4) Other Items
We are not able to accommodate on-site registration or refunds for the Trinity Site Visit. Due to the tight schedule and large response, latecomers cannot be accommodated.

We will view the movie “The Day After Trinity” enroute. Staff members from the White Sands Missile Range will provide an informational brochure to each attendee and will address the entire group at the Trinity Site. We also expect to hear from some Sigma Pi Sigma members who have first-hand experience with the Manhattan Project, including Dr. Worth Seagondollar, who witnessed the Trinity test.

If you are interested in contributing digital images from the Trinity Site Visit for a video presentation during dinner, please coordinate with Tracy Schwab from the national office onsite.


  • Space is limited for the Trinity Site visit; registration is first-come, first-served.
  • You must be registered for the Sigma Pi Sigma Congress or the APS Four-Corners Meeting to participate in the Trinity Site visit.
  • There is no on-site registration and there are no refunds for the Trinity Site Visit.
  • Due to the tight schedule and large response, latecomers cannot be accommodated.
  • Sigma Pi Sigma member, non-student: $30.00
  • Student: $20.00
  • Non Sigma Pi Sigma member, non-student: $40.00

Additional Information
Trinity is usually open to the public just twice a year. This is a private, exclusive opportunity available only to Congress participants.

On the trip to Trinity, attendees will view The Day After Trinity, “featuring archival footage and commentary from scientists and soldiers directly involved with the Manhattan Project, this gripping film is a fascinating look at the scope and power of the Nuclear Age” (Editorial Review, Amazon.com).

To learn more about the Trinity Site, the Manhattan Project, or White Sands Missile Range, visit the following websites:

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