The Sedan Crater stands as a stark reminder of the era when nuclear energy exploration went beyond weapons and power generation, delving into the potential for peacetime industrial applications. This site in Nevada is the footprint of an intense underground nuclear detonation, part of Operation Plowshare—a program that aimed to adapt nuclear technology for constructive uses, like excavation.
Back in 1962, the detonation of a 104-kiloton nuclear device, buried over 600 feet beneath the Earth, resulted in an astonishing upheaval. The explosion formed a dome of earth 300 feet high before erupting, ejecting over 12 million tons of soil into the air and forming the massive crater visible today. The test demonstrated that while nuclear explosions could indeed move mountains, the fallout was far-reaching and unwelcome, casting a radioactive shadow over the land and its inhabitants, more than any other test in the nation.
The Sedan Crater’s legacy is a testament to the power and peril of nuclear energy. Currently, the crater is a historical site within the Nevada desert, with vegetation tentatively taking root again, softening its harsh contours.
For those interested in witnessing this chapter of history, take note:
Visitor Guidelines Sedan Crater is within the boundaries of the Nevada National Security Site. Public access is carefully controlled due to the sensitive nature of the area. Approaching the guarded gates or attempting unauthorized entry is considered trespassing, and security personnel will take immediate action. Photography of military installations is strictly prohibited and could result in legal consequences. Adherence to these guidelines is crucial, particularly for visitors from outside the United States.
To visit, you must arrange a spot on the monthly public tours managed by the DOE/NNSA Field Office in Las Vegas. These educational tours provide a safe and legal way to explore the site, starting from the Atomic Testing Museum near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.