The Manhattan Project

K-25 Plant

Robert Kupp's Interview

[Interviewed by Cynthia Kelly and Tom Zannes.]

Robert Kupp: My name is Robert William Kupp. Did you say spell it?

Yes. [Laughter.]

Kupp: Robert William K-U-P-P. And the age is eighty-two. I’ll be eighty-three next month in July.

So, Mr. Kupp, I wanted to know, what were you doing before you came to the Secret City?

Robert Kupp

Robert Kupp received mysterious orders to report to Knoxville, Tennessee just before he was shipped out to the Pacific Theater, and joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge. He was assigned to work as a supervisor in the Line Recorder Department at the K-25 Plant. He discusses life at Oak Ridge and the security and secrecy involved in working on the project. Kupp went on to a prestigious career as a nuclear engineer.

Helen Jernigan's Interview

Cindy Kelly: My name is Kelly. I am with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. And I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee today, which is Friday, September 6, 2013. And we are very fortunate today to have Helen Jernigan. And I am going to start by asking Helen to say her name and spell it.

Helen Jernigan: Jernigan. H-E-L-E-N, J-E-R-N-I-G-A-N.

Helen Jernigan

Helen Jernigan was a young woman when she was offered a job working in the recreational facilities in Oak Ridge. Eventually, she moved on to become editor of the local newspaper, Carbide Courier. Jernigan recalls the nightlife young men and women were encouraged to participate in as a break from life in the secret city. 

Ray Smith's Interview

Cindy Kelly: Okay, let us get started. Cindy Kelly with Atomic Heritage Foundation, September 6, 2013. I am here with Smith. The first question is please say your name and spell it. 

Ray Smith: My name is Smith. That is R-A-Y S-M-I-T-H. I am the historian at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Colleen Black's Interview (2013)

Cindy Kelly: We are rolling, okay. I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation and it is Tuesday, August 13, 2013. This morning I have with me Denise Kiernan.

Denise Kiernan: I am Denise Kiernan, D-e-n-i-s-e K-i-e-r-n-a-n, author of Girls of Atomic City, here with Cindy and Colleen. 

Kelly: Colleen, we are going to start with an easy question, which is to say and spell your name. 

Harold Hasenfus' Interview

I was a member of two Special Engineer Detachments: I worked at the University of Chicago at the Metallurgical Laboratory and I also worked in Oak Ridge Plant, conceived and designed by Philip Abelson, who is probably here today. I lived in the barracks area when I was at Oak Ridge and I lived in an apartment with three other soldiers when I was in Chicago.

Harold Hasenfus

After graduating from the College of the City of New York with a degree in mechanical engineering, Harold Hasenfus volunteered for the army and joined the Special Engineer Detachment at the University of Chicago's Metalurgical Laboratory. Hasenfus worked at a pilot plant that was constructed to assist in the design of the B Reactor in Hanford for the production of plutonium. Later, he was transferred to Oak Ridge to work on thermal diffusion.

Theodore Rockwell's Interview (2002)

 

Well I was very young at the time. I went down there in 1943, down to Oak Ridge, TN.   They were interviewing at Princeton where I was going to school. They guys said that they had a very important war project going on down there. And I said, “Oh what’s it all about?” 

And they said, “Oh, we can’t tell you what it’s all about.”

So I said, “Gee, why should I go at a place if you can’t tell me what it’s all about.”  

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