9 strange-but-true photos that capture Las Vegas' brief love affair with nuclear bombs.

On Jan. 27, 1951, a U.S. B-50 bomber dropped a nuclear warhead over the Nevada desert.

"A fantastically bright cloud is climbing upward like a huge umbrella," said John Kerrigan of The Washington Bulletin.

The bomb, codenamed Able, detonated about a thousand feet above the ground, illuminating the early morning sky.


The thunderous boom echoed through the surrounding mountains and woke up the sleepy desert town of Las Vegas, some 45 miles away.

It was supposed to be a government secret. But despite what you hear on TV, what happens in Vegas rarely stays there.


A mushroom cloud during early atomic tests.Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

This is the story of Atomic Las Vegas, told through nine unforgettable photos.

1. Las Vegas took advantage of its proximity to atomic testing sites and turned it into a tourism boom. (Pun very much intended.)

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

"You brace yourself against the shock wave that follows an atomic explosion. "

Instead of saying "Pardon our dust," Las Vegas, in true Las Vegas fashion, doubled down.

Within days of the first test, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce issued a press release about their latest attraction — the nuclear testing site, even describing their town as "The Atomic City."

It quickly became, "Come, admire our dust, and see a show afterward."

2. Just over a year later, journalists were invited to take in a blast for themselves. The coast-to-coast broadcasts jump-started the atomic craze.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

"A heat wave comes first..."

Over the next 12 years, there was a detonation every three weeks, each one a source of immense pride, patriotism, and dollars for the city of Las Vegas.

3. Hotels offered panoramic views of the distant desert skyline for the optimum experience.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

4. The Chamber of Commerce published a calendar of the bomb schedule, including the best places to see the clouds.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

5. Tourists packed cars and drove out to the desert to get a closer look, carrying dinner in "atomic lunch boxes," of course.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

By 1954, nearly 8 million people were visiting Las Vegas each year. In 1950, the city's population was 24,624. By 1970, that number had ballooned to more than 125,000.

6. Women sported mushroom clouds as hairdos and as costumes in beauty pageants.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

They were found on billboards, marquees, and school yearbooks. One was even on the county seal.

7. The Nevada Test Site wasn't just a boom for travelers. The proving ground flooded the area with federal funds, and the site employed close to 100,000 men and women.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

8. But despite the economic and population booms, there was some fallout (literally and figuratively) from the Nevada Test Site.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

"...then the shock, strong enough to knock an unprepared man down. "

The government coordinated a very successful public relations campaign to downplay the potential danger and highlight the patriotic aims of this Cold War-era pursuit, even handing out guides to Nevada schoolchildren.

"A committee said there would be little danger to Vegas," Karen Green, curator at the Atomic Testing Museum, told the National Endowment for the Humanities. They said "if people were exposed they could take showers.”

But many working onsite and those who lived close by — who call themselves as "Downwinders" — developed serious illnesses and cancers due to exposure. Many saw their children, friends, and loved ones die prematurely as a result. In 1990, Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which presented families monetary compensation and a much-deserved apology.

9. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty put an end to above-ground nuclear experiments in 1963.

Photo via Las Vegas News Bureau, used with permission.

"Then, after what seems like hours, the man-made sunburst fades away."

The tests continued underground for decades, but the public displays were complete. No more fanfare. No more pageantry and kitsch.

235 bombs later, the party — and this peculiar era in modern-American history — was over.

True

As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

Keep Reading Show less
True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

Keep Reading Show less
Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

Keep Reading Show less