Cold War nuclear weapons storage facility video now available

Jul 25, 2013
Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials.

Down a remote canyon near Los Alamos National Laboratory lies a facility known as the "Tunnel Vault," once one of the most secret and secure locations in the United States, it's the original post-WWII nuclear stockpile storage area.

Located in Los Alamos canyon at Technical Area 41, the Tunnel Vault was built between 1948 and 1949.  The facility has a formidable security perimeter, a hardened guard tower—complete with gun ports and bulletproof glass—and a series of gates and doors that lead to a 230-foot long concrete tunnel that goes straight into the canyon wall.

At the end of the tunnel is a large alcove room with a single bank vault door. Through that door is a vault built inside a vault with five storage areas, all protected with identical bank vault doors. All these features can be seen on a video that tours the recently declassified, historically significant facility.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

As part of the Laboratory's 70th anniversary "Signature Week" the Tunnel Vault will be one of the stops on two tours during the week of July 22, one tour will be open to working news media, and the other tour will be part of the Laboratory's family celebration for employees and their family members.

Over the years the Tunnel Vault was also used as a nuclear materials and area, a weapons research and development laboratory, weapons components , and nuclear material assembly for tests both in the Pacific and in Nevada.

"This facility had a long history during the cold war. So this was definitely a top secret, very secure location," said McGehee.

About halfway down the tunnel is a side room that was used for early development of unclassified research that led to the discovery of the neutrino—work that later won a Nobel Prize in physics—a lab space ideal for the work because it's buried 300-feet deep underground.

Explore further: Team shows first nuclear material detection by single short-pulse-laser-driven neutron source

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Criticality experiment succeeds at CEF in Nevada

Jun 28, 2011

On June 15 a team of researchers at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory brought the Planet criticality assembly machine located at the Nevada National Security Site to a supercritical point for approximately ...

Security breach at Los Alamos

Jun 15, 2007

The Los Alamos, N.M., National Laboratory reportedly breached national security by sending classified nuclear weapons information over the Internet.

100 evacuated as NM fire threatens Los Alamos lab

Jun 27, 2011

(AP) -- Federal forest officials say a wind-driven wildfire has forced the evacuations of about 100 people in northern New Mexico and the closure of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Swift progress on NSLS-II booster

Oct 02, 2012

The electrons that will generate intense, focused beams of x-rays at NSLS-II are accelerated to their target energy before they enter the large main ring. That crucial job falls on a complex of equipment ...

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

17 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

18 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

18 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Stephen_Crowley
1 / 5 (2) Jul 25, 2013
omg a video of an old "secret place' let me go run around and crap my pants and act impressed

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...