The Manhattan Project

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Hanford, WA

Fred and Diana VanWyck

The VanWycks, Fred ("Van") and Diana ("Di"), moved to Richland (near Hanford) in 1944 from Charleston, West Virginia, where Van worked at DuPont's Belle Plant as a technician. At Hanford, Van was a plant operator, while Di raised their sons and volunteered actively in the community. In this era, Richland was a raw, new, wind-blown, almost treeless town. The VanWycks watched it change to a pretty city of more than 30,000, with shade trees in abundance and grass that halted the sand storms of the 1940s.

Frank Mackie's Interview

[At top is the edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995.

For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]

Book version:

Frank Mackie

Born in 1903 in Baltimore, Mackie studied civil engineering at Union College in Schenectady, New York. In 1934 he went to work for Du Pont in construction and retired in 1968 as manager of construction. "They called me manager, now they call them directors. They give them a big title, but they gave me more money, "he said. After the war, Mackie was construction manager at Savannah River, the plant in South Carolina built by Du Pont in the early 1950s to produce material for hydrogen bombs.

Frank Buck's Interview

[Interviewed by Robert W. Mull, from S.L. Sanger's Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995]

We used to live in the tules (reed huts) until spring, then we take them apart, put them away and we move. First we move after the root feasts, clear up to Soap Lake and Waterville. Then down to Ellensburg. Horn Rapids for fishing. Naches Pass for berries and more fishing for several weeks.

Frank Buck

By 1984, at the time of this interview, the Wanapum Tribe numbered two full-blooded survivors. One was Frank Buck, 16 years old when the Army came to build the Hanford Engineer Works. He was the son of Chief Johnny Buck, who became a friend of many Hanford project people. Frank worked at the Wanapum Dam information center, upstream from Hanford, talk­ing to visitors about the history of his tribe.

Francis McHale's Interview

I arrived in Pasco on the train around 1:30 in the morning, May 1, 1943. The wind was blowing like hell, and if a train had been going back East I would have been on it. I went to Hanford the next day, a Sunday, and nothing was there. No barracks or anything else. I was on per diem and was told to stick around. I was told this was Washington, the Evergreen State, and after a month and a half nobody could have gotten me away. It was an adventure.

Francis McHale

Francis McHale was a security and safety man, a civilian, with the Corps of Engineers. He came to Hanford from the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works to set up fire and safety and police protection for the Manhattan Engineer District. McHale retired in 1972 as director of security for the Atomic Energy Commission at Hanford. 

Harry Petcher's Interview

[At top is the edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995.

For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]

Book version:

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