Socorro is known for being fairly close in location to the Trinity Site, the testing site for the first atomic bomb, which was developed 150 or so miles further north in Los Alamos. The final testing site for the Manhattan Project was originally intended to include a large steel structure that would house the bomb.
As the years went by, the scientists involved decided to scrap the containment device, which became known as "Jumbo." By this time, the device, to much effort, had already been delivered. So they decided to suspend it on a tower some 800 feet from the epicenter of the blast and see what happened.
Nothing happened actually, the 8 to 16 inch thick steel casing survived the blast fully intact, unfortunately its tower did not survive.
Eventually the US Army attempted to destroy Jumbo by placing 500 pounds of explosives inside. All the explosives managed to do was blow out the ends of Jumbo. It was then buried in the New Mexico desert. The majority of it now stands at the entrance to the Trinity Site, with this small (I use that term lightly because this piece has to weigh a few tons) piece placed near the central plaza in downtown Socorro. It's a delightfully dark story for such an interesting piece of American history.
If you're interested in hearing more about Jumbo, please check out my sources for this post:
- Jumbo: Silent Partner in the Trinity Test (pdf document)
- A-Bomb: The Destroyer of Worlds Timeline
- Trinity Atomic Website