A complete city built during World War II for workers of the Clinton Engineer Works (CEW), Oak Ridge is important for its part in the Manhattan Project, which resulted in the production of the first atomic bomb and the invention of the nuclear reactor. Until March 1949 access to the area was restricted, and some installations are still closed to the public. The city is the site of continued energy research, development and production sponsored by both government and private industry.With a staff of approximately 4,400 researchers, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performs research for the Department of Energy in areas such as neutron science, high-performance computing, additive manufacturing, new energy resources and national security. Public bus tours departing from the American Museum of Science and Energy include a tour of the ORNL’s Graphite Reactor.The East Tennessee Technology Park on SR 58 provides a view of the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, where uranium was enriched for use as fuel in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons 1943-85. The plant now serves as a base of operations for the Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program.In Alvin K. Bissell Park The Secret City Commemorative Walk, at the corner of S. Tulane Avenue and SR 95 (Oak Ridge Turnpike), features bronze plaques that recount the history of Oak Ridge and its World War II-era, top-secret government plants.The International Friendship Bell, a tribute to Manhattan Project workers and a token of peace from Oak Ridge citizens to Hiroshima victims, stands off Badger Avenue in A.K. Bissell Park. Jackson Square Historic Park, a revitalization of the original government town site, contains restored buildings, specialty shops, historic displays and a small botanical garden.A 2,000-meter flat-water regatta course on the Melton Hill area of the Clinch River is the site of rowing competitions each year. Walking, jogging, skating and bicycling can be enjoyed on a trail skirting Melton Lake.Counterbalancing the sciences with the performing arts is the Oak Ridge Playhouse in Historic Jackson Square. Founded in 1943, this group re-creates Broadway and off-Broadway favorites throughout the year; for schedule and ticket information phone (865) 482-9999.The Secret City Festival brings live music and entertainment to town in June, with a WWII re-enactment, history exhibits, Manhattan Project site tours, antiques and food among the offerings.
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