Experiencing the Trinity Test in New Mexico

  • Elva Österreich (Author)


What is a ghost? Is it a continuing spirit through time that refuses to die? If so, that is what my book, The Manhattan Project Trinity Test: Witnessing the Bomb in New Mexico, is about—the legacy of the first atomic bomb, set off in the southern New Mexico desert, 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16, 1945. Known as the Trinity Test, this event, happening almost 80 years ago, has been called the dawn of the nuclear age.

For the 60th anniversary of that first atomic bomb in 2005, the newspaper I was working for, the Alamogordo Daily News, brought the staff together to dig out the stories our paper had printed regarding the event and to write new stories for a special edition. I put together a replica of the front page of that long-ago style of the paper, bringing all those elements together. It was that project which made me realize as the event falls back into history, those people who experienced it and were affected by it are rapidly disappearing. Thus, the idea for the book was born and I started talking with those who remember and who are still alive today as well as their children. I also worked to unearth the words and experiences of those no longer alive—the scientists and journalists, for example, who had left written accounts and other pieces to sort through.