Project Shoal Site We Visited: 5/24/2002
39 12' 00"N, 118 22' 49"W - FOURMILE CANYON quad

Directions: Take U.S. 50 east out of Fallon for 32 miles; turn right (South) on SR 839 for 7.7 miles; turn right (West) on local graded road for 4.5 miles.

From Fallon: 44.2 miles

What Was

Not much except Gote Flat, until the government decided this would make a nice place to test an atomic bomb just to, uh, well, just to see if it would, well, OK, how about this- just to see if it would jiggle our meters like an earthquake does. Yeah, that's it. Officially, this is the story, from the U.S. Department of Energy:

"Project Shoal is approximately 30 miles southeast of Fallon. The Department conducted a nuclear test at the site in October 1963. The purpose of the test was to determine the effect of a nuclear detonation in a granite rock formation and to compare the seismic activity of natural earthquakes with activity from an underground nuclear explosion. A 12-kiloton device was detonated at a depth of 369 meters (1,211 feet). The test was conducted to improve the ability to detect underground nuclear explosions. "

You can view Michon Mackedon's Project Shoal and Yucca Mountain: Selling Safety here, and Project Shoal: Anatomy of a Nuclear Event here. It's an interesting story- particularly if you grew up in Fallon.

What is

Not much is left here to suggest anything extraordinary took place- certainly not the detonation of a 12-kiloton nuclear "device ." Still, there is evidence that something happened here, and if you know the history you can say you stood 1,000 feet from where an atom bomb was detonated. Of course, you could say that even if you didn't come here, and it wouldn't bother me one bit.

Most of what you will see here is left over from Federal atempts to monitor and "clean" the area after they were done using it. As far as I know, wells in the area are still monitored. Don't mind the two-headed jack rabbits- they're actually quite friendly.

Satellite view of the Project Shoal testing area.
AEC (Now DOE) diagram of how
the device was set up
If I'm not mistaken, Ground Zero
More pictures from Project Shoal | Return to Previous Document | HOME