ARIZONA NEWS

‘Oppenheimer’ fanfare driving likely record attendance to New Mexico atomic site

Oct 21, 2023, 6:00 PM

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (AP) — Visitors lined up Saturday to tour the southern New Mexico site where the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated in what officials believe could be a record turnout amid ongoing fanfare surrounding Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film, “ Oppenheimer.”

Thousands of visitors are expected at the Trinity Site, a designated National Historic Landmark that’s usually closed to the public because of its proximity to the impact zone for missiles fired at White Sands Missile Range. But twice a year, in April and October, the site opens to spectators. No attendance numbers were immediately available at midnight Saturday. In a social media post, the missile range said vehicles were lined up for more than 2 miles at the site before the tours started Saturday.

White Sands officials warned online that the wait to enter the gates could be as long as two hours. No more than 5,000 visitors are expected to make it within the window between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Visitors also are being warned to come prepared as Trinity Site is in a remote area with limited Wi-Fi and no cell service or restrooms.

“Oppenheimer,” the retelling of the work of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, was a summer box office smash. Scientists and military officials established a secret city in Los Alamos during the 1940s and tested their work at the Trinity Site some 200 miles away.

Part of the film’s success was due to the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon in which filmgoers made a double feature outing of the “Barbie” movie and “Oppenheimer.”

While the lore surrounding the atomic bomb has become pop culture fodder, it was part of a painful reality for residents who lived downwind of Trinity Site. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders plan to protest outside the gates to remind visitors about a side of history they say the movie failed to acknowledge.

The group says the U.S. government never warned residents about the testing. Radioactive ash contaminated soil and water. Rates of infant mortality, cancer and other illnesses increased. There are younger generations dealing with health issues now, advocates say.

The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium has worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists and others for years to bring attention to the Manhattan Project’s impact. A new documentary by filmmaker Lois Lipman, “First We Bombed New Mexico,” made its world premiere Friday at the Santa Fe International Film Festival.

The notoriety from “Oppenheimer” has been embraced in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. About 200 locals, many of them Los Alamos National Laboratory employees, were extras in the film, and the city hosted an Oppenheimer Festival in July.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

BASIS Peoria high school ranks best in the nation, US News says...

KTAR.com

West Valley high school ranked as best in nation by US News

The newly released 2024 best high schools rankings from U.S. News declared the BASIS Peoria high school as the best in the nation.

7 hours ago

The American and Ukrainian flags wave in the wind outside of the Capitol on Tuesday, April 23, 2024...

Associated Press

Senate overwhelmingly passes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with big bipartisan vote

The Senate has passed $95 billion in war aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending the legislation to Biden after months of delays.

8 hours ago

Expand Sky Harbor: Phoenix mayor announces terminal plans...

Serena O'Sullivan

Phoenix city leaders want a new terminal at Sky Harbor Airport

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced city leaders' intentions to expand Sky Harbor International Airport during a Tuesday speech.

9 hours ago

Pages from the United Healthcare website are displayed on a computer screen, Feb. 29, 2024, in New ...

Associated Press

UnitedHealth says wide swath of patient files may have been taken in Change cyberattack

The company said after markets closed that it sees no signs that doctor charts or full medical histories were released after the attack.

10 hours ago

James LoMenzo, Dirk Verbeuren, Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro attend SiriusXM's 'Trunk Nation' wit...

Damon Allred

‘Destroy All Enemies’ tour comes to Phoenix courtesy of metal band Megadeth

Heavy-rocking band Megadeth announced Tuesday a nationwide tour that stops in Phoenix in August with guests Mudvayne and All That Remains.

11 hours ago

Tuesday morning collision kills man...

KTAR.com

Man run over while pushing shopping cart on Phoenix roadway

A man is dead after a Tuesday morning collision near 35th Avenue and Osborn Road, the Phoenix Police Department announced.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

‘Oppenheimer’ fanfare driving likely record attendance to New Mexico atomic site