The Manhattan Project

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

K-25 Plant

James C. Hobbs's Interview - Part 1

Stephane Groueff: Hello, recording January 19, 1965, Florida, Coral Gables. Mr. Hobbs, H-O-B-B-S.

J.C. Hobbs: I was born in West Virginia, just west of Pittsburgh up in the panhandle. My father and mother were both educators and in 1893 I was five years old, we came to Florida. He was an educator and also an Evangelist. We stopped in Northern Florida around Umatilla and Mt. Dora and Orlando, that area, for three years and then in ’96 we came into Miami.

Groueff: He was a school teacher?

James C. Hobbs

J.C. Hobbs was an American inventor and engineer who created a key part of the valves used in the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was a prominent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and was vice-president of the Diamond Alkali Company.

Hobbs was brought on to the Manhattan Project by the head of the Kellex Corporation, Percival Keith, to improve the piping system in the K-25 plant. 

Gale Kenney's Interview

Kelly: My name is Cindy Kelly of Atomic Heritage Foundation and this is Friday, November 7, 2014. And I am here in Hobe Sound, Florida and I have with me Kenney. The first question is to please tell me your name and spell it.

Kenney: My first name is Gale. G-A-L-E. My middle initial is G as in George. G-E-O-R-G-E. My last name is Kenney. K-E-N-N-E-Y.

Gale Kenney

Gale Kenney was a member of the Special Engineering Detachment at Oak Ridge, where he worked inside the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion plant. With his engineering background, Kenney led a predominantly female team to test the miles of piping used in the gaseous diffusion process. After the war, Kenney finished his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and joined Koppers Company, an employer he would retain for nearly four decades.

William E. Tewes' Interview (September 2013)

Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly. It is September 6, 2013. I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee with Bill Tewes. So Bill, can you tell us your name and spell it?

Tewes: Sure. My name is William Edward Tewes. And the first and second names are obvious, but to spell my last name, it is T-E-W-E-S. My father and my children all pronounce it “Tewes.” The rest of my older family, including my grandparents, pronounced it “Teweys.” And my Uncle Elmer would remark, “Any fool should know it’s pronounced Teweys because there are two E’s in the name.”

Herman Snyder's Interview

Herman Snyder: My name is Herman Snyder, H-E-R-M-AN S-N-Y-D-E-R. 

Cindy Kelly: Great, good job. All right, now, maybe we can pick up the thread of that story. If you can tell us your experience, and compress it a little bit because I want to spend most of the time talking about your experience here at Oak Ridge and K-25. But I do like the idea that you were, you know, shoved away, that you were in this place with all these tests, and, you know, provocative. That was good. I think that’s interesting.

Herman Snyder

Herman Snyder worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge as a soldier in the Special Engineer Detachment. He worked at the K-25 Plant for many years, and later at the Y-12 Plant. He discusses the many innovations that caused K-25 to run so smoothly and to be built so quickly. Snyder also reminisces about the sense of community at Oak Ridge, and recalls having to scrounge a pass to get his new bride through the gates into Oak Ridge.  

John Arnold's Interview

Stephane Groueff: Now if you can give me briefly your background and where you came from and how you got connected with Kellex. Were you a Kellogg man?

John Arnold: Yes, I was a Kellogg man, and at the time I was working on an ammonia plant at Sterlington.

Groueff: Where is that?

Arnold: In Louisiana.

Groueff: Louisiana?

John Arnold

John Arnold joined the Manhattan Project in 1943 when the MED tasked his employer, the Kellogg Corporation, with developing a special barrier for the gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge. Arnold discusses his role as director of research and development and process engineering at the plant, where he supervised the assembly and testing of what would become the K-25 plant.

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