trinity2

Wind-blown sand still uncovers sun-bleached bones of men and mules dead for centuries along New Mexico’s Jornado del Muerte, the waterless hell where Spaniards died traveling between Santa Fe and Chihuahua. Few large areas in the United States can match its barren, flat desolation.

Near the center of this vast expanse lies man’s first great insult against the earth – – Trinity Site.

Ground Zero, where a massive steel tower holding the first atomic bomb was vaporized at 5:29 a.m., July 16, 1945, was a slight depression in the silent flatness. For a radius of more than 100 feet melted sand in the form of green glass covered the desert like a splotchy carpet shining in the light from above, dull by night, bright by day. This monument to man’s inhumanity to man, the largest blur on the landscape, was surrounded by a high fence, tight strands of barbed wire, a locked double gate and multilingual warning signs.

The gate was chained shut. Three padlocks served as links in the chain in 1951, any one of which permitted entry when unlocked. A large steel lock was stamped AEC, for the Atomic Energy Commission. A heavy brass padlock was stamped War Dept. The third padlock, a new one hardly larger than the links it secured, replaced one of these links recently melted in two by Jesse Petty’s gas torch. Jesse, my best friend and fellow draftee army buddy, from Carrizozo, New Mexico, had snapped the chain back together wit the little lock during his trip to the site.

Jesse had volunteered, I’ll go out there and cut the chain for you and put on a new padlock, but I won’t go in there, not for anything,”

He had given me the keys when we each returned to Guided Missile School at Ft. Bliss, Texas, from our weekend trips to different home cities.

My plan was to drive a truck to the Trinity atomic bomb site, use my keys to pass through the unguarded US Government gate remove the radioactive glass called Trinitite and transport it close to Los Alamos for a proper burial at its spiritual origin…

…While living in the remote desert of northern New Mexico I had seen an aerial photograph of the radioactive site in a popular magazine. It looked like a giant scab. It was an impurity waiting to be taken away. Writers wrote about it. I was determined to remove it without a trace of publicity. My self-appointed task was to gain entry to the government glass and haul it off for burial, to repair the desert, clean away this radioactive afterbirth.

And so it goes…Dr. Pray’s story is fascinating.

Dr. Ralph Pray died May 30, 2014.

Thanks, Mike



  1. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

    Nice combo of facts and BS. Interesting to read a first hand account of what the Trinity test site looked like after the test. But statements like this: “This monument to man’s inhumanity to man,” make the history a bit hard to read. What exactly is the inhumanity???? The author has his finger on something but fails the reader in mischaracterizing it.

    I am also put off where the guy goes in to collect and bury the radioactive glass on a guess and a whim and just accepts whatever exposure he gets. Stupid. The date of this visit isn’t stated but Shirley they had Geiger counters or some other way to give a max exposure time? This kind of glibness makes me doubt the accuracy/insight of everything else that is written.

    The Spaniards dying from thirst….. always entertaining. Would like to read more about that. Imagine exploring “a new world.”

    That would be cool.

    • Mr Diesel says:

      Maybe it’s the stroke talking but I have to agree with bobbo. I read the first part and called bullshit.

      🙂

      • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

        I never called BS….. until I had a stroke or two. I can’t wait for the next one. What will I see or smell then? Maybe Pedro could tell us?

        • I.Dohno says:

          If that was “man’s first great insult against the earth” then we played it cool for a long time. The earth has pulled some real shit over the years.

    • IM72 says:

      Who’s Shirley? Oh. Did you mean surely?

  2. Jack A$$ says:

    “… This monument to man’s inhumanity to man, the largest blur on the landscape, was surrounded by a high fence, tight strands of barbed wire, a locked double gate and multilingual warning signs.”

    I seem to have a problem with the biased and colorful language used here. So please tell me. Who died as a direct result of the first atomic explosion at the New Mexico Trinity test site? Answer: NO ONE!

    Sure, there may have been a few people who were unknowingly radiated (soldiers and anyone wandering nearby in direct violation of any signs, most likely). Sure, these atomic tests were conducted in hopes of creating a mega-weapon too. And they succeeded! But thousands, if not millions of lives were saved as a result when 2 more of these bombs were used at Nagasaki and Hiroshima to force Japan to end the war. So perhaps your “monument” to man’s inhumanity is slightly misplaced and really doesn’t belong at the Trinity test site in New Mexico.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think there shouldn’t be a monument. But as far as the Trinity test site is concerned, I think it might be more appropriate to designate it as a monument to the nuclear age — not as a monument to inhumanity. Because Germany clearly won that honor (though they do seem to be getting a good run for the title with the crap that Russia and the Middle East are currently engaged in).

    Clearly, it was a horrible thing that these weapons had to be developed. Even more horrible is the fact that they were actually used on live human beings. But again, any actual killing wasn’t done in New Mexico! If anything, there were American’s of “Japanese heritage” being detained at nearby camps that was a lot more inhuman. But does anyone who wasn’t at one of these places even know where they are now?!

    But if you want to talk about nuclear weapons then yes, it’s bad stuff. It’s a terrible choice to have when the choice is to kill a large number of your enemies innocent civilians, many of whom were producing war machines, with one weapon or allowing a mindless war to go on which would almost certainly kill even more people. But that’s the choice they (Truman) had. It was a spectacular choice too. And since it’s such a simple thing to understand with mass death in one fell swoop we always seem to focus on that fact instead of the more dark reality since nuclear annihilation is, well, more spectacular! We almost never focus on the more mundane inhuman things like concentration camps, war crimes, or even hordes of people being executed — especially if it’s just one (poor) person.

    We hardly even know of the incendiary attacks that had preceded these atomic bombs. So this whole idea of some inhumanity to man crap over atomic weapons is just that — crap. It was war where our enemies were planning to do the exact same thing to us! Please try to remember that. It isn’t the weapons, IT’S THE ACT that makes a person inhuman! Whats more, only Israel seems to have learned the FULL lesson here which is to NOT KILL — unless you’re being FORCED to!!!

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and student of Real Politik says:

      Are you saying Israel should Nuke Gaza?

      • Tim says:

        I’m saying that we should scoop the Holy Land up 3 ft below the bedrock and dump it across the american southwest. To incentivize all the ‘Israelites’ come to Arizona after all the Operation Paperclippers die out. But, somehow, they keep crowding one district in New York.

    • mensch says:

      Yup, yup. And Josef Mengele was just a medical researcher working off his ROTC scholarship.

    • NewFormatSux says:

      Who says Russia and ISIS are the bad guys?

    • Nikelectric says:

      “Sure, there may have been a few people who were unknowingly radiated (soldiers and anyone wandering nearby in direct violation of any signs, most likely). Sure, these atomic tests were conducted in hopes of creating a mega-weapon too. And they succeeded! But thousands, if not millions of lives were saved as a result when 2 more of these bombs were used at Nagasaki and Hiroshima to force Japan to end the war. So perhaps your “monument” to man’s inhumanity is slightly misplaced and really doesn’t belong at the Trinity test site in New Mexico.”

      The Hiroshima bombing perhaps fits your above thesis, if you believe bombing a civilian population, and not military targets was ok, Nagasaki…was a war crime pure and simple. After Hiroshima, the Japanese were in total shock. They would no doubt have surrendered shortly afterwards, especially since the Soviet Union had also just cancelled their neutrality agreement and declared war on them as well. Dropping a second bomb 2 days later was just cruelty and retribution. It still took them 3 days to surrender after that…luckily, the Americans did not have a third bomb ready to go for two weeks or we would have another city to add to the first two.

      • jpfitz says:

        Hiroshima was a testbed to see the effects on a human population, and maybe foremost a political weapon to put fear into the USSR and the rest of the world. Nagasaki was and is a war crime, we both agree, as was the fire bombings of Tokyo.

        The garbage we were fed for our minds during education is just that. Throw away the trash and learn the real history of men.

    • jpfitz says:

      “But thousands, if not millions of lives were saved as a result when 2 more of these bombs were used at Nagasaki and Hiroshima to force Japan to end the war. So perhaps your “monument” to man’s inhumanity is slightly misplaced and really doesn’t belong at the Trinity test site in New Mexico.”

      You must be kidding. Japan was at it end before the bombs were dropped. Do a little more research into why those kiloton weapons were dropped on civilians. Forget what you were told in school.

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and student of Real Politik says:

        jp==of course, the USA “could have” exploded the bomb out at sea to demonstrate our new weapon.

        But “why not” PUNISH our enemies who started the WAR in the first place?

        Even if only a few 100, or dozen, or 5-6 more American Soldiers would die as a direct result of such a display of humanity….can choosing the other “really” be so wrong?

        And putting Russia on its back foot….. not such a bad thing to do?

        The term “War Crime” comes up a lot. Seems to fit the fire bombing of non-military cities….. Such as Dresden…but Tokyo? Capital of the enemy and all….or was it moved to Kyoto… and why should we be held to knowing or trusting any such issue?

        The Japs. Few people ever deserved to be Nuked more.

      • Tim says:

        “…Censorship and Myth-Making Enshrined Ignorance of Hiroshima and the Bomb.” We talk about how the Hiroshima myth was created in the wake of the atomic bombing, why the Nagasaki bombing was even more unnecessary…

        http://corbettreport.com/interview-924-john-laforge-uncensors-the-hiroshima-myth-making/

    • Tim says:

      “”Who died as a direct result of the first atomic explosion at the New Mexico Trinity test site?

      Ch. 47

      Presumably the shaman was still secure in his refuge, as far from his spiritual creditors, or the lynch-mob, as it was possible to get. Lingering in the Loop, planning the getting of power. Or holding it at bay.

      Ch. 74

      and until he could find a new body to leave in he was its prisoner, his will perpetually holding the moment of detonation at bay. He’d lived like a man with his finger on a crack in a dam, knowing that the moment he neglected his duty the dam would burst and overwhelm him. No wonder the word Trinity had thrown his thoughts into confusion. It was the name of his terror.

      — Clive Barker, The Great and Secret Show

      http://iwanttoread.net/horror/Book_of_the_Art_1/index_74.html

  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower says:

    whiney downwinders. I suppose ya’ll’d rather see women womening conveyor belt systems bopping bomb casings with hammers to see if they *rang true*.

    {Incidentally, we sold those surplus conveyors to Service Merchandise — As well as the pneumatic tube transport systems we used for the more dangerous of the radionuclides…}

    a time-lapse of every nuclear test since i screwed the hedgehog
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=LLCF7vPanrY

  4. Morey says:

    Silly Eideard thinks people click links and actually read stuff.

    Though I’m surprised the sillyass gold bugs here don’t know who Ralph Pray was.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and student of Real Politik says:

      What makes you say people don’t know?

  5. observer says:

    I couldn’t get past “…man’s first great insult against the earth….”

    • Tim says:

      Earth was so big that they had to roll it around in glyphosate and look for the dead-spot before observer’s dad fucked it.

      • jpfitz says:

        observer probably gets a chubby watching those brighter than the sun atoms followed by enormous mushroom clouds. Some guys love them some kabooms and kabangs. I’ve a brother in-law who got off on the moab. Never was dropped in Iraq, what a shame. /s


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