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1955 Operation CUE

With the increasing competition between the United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia) on all fronts, Americans were getting increasingly anxious about the possibility of nuclear war. How would their communities look afterward? What would be left? Additionally, more information about the effects of radiation on the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was becoming known, and coupled with the Castle Bravo incident of the year before, radioactive fallout was on the minds of many people.

The Tonopah-Las Vegas site was selected to be the test site for ‘small’ detonations (less than a megaton), in large part because the government already owned the land, and that choice would not require the removal and relocation of entire towns and villages. Additionally, Las Vegas was nearby and could support the needs of the workers (the city was not yet a gambling and entertainment mecca).

On December 18, 1950, President Harry Truman authorized the establishment of a 680 square mile portion of the Range as the Nevada Proving Ground. Under the authority of President Truman, the AEC then designated and managed this land. In 1955, the name of the site was changed to the Nevada Testing Site. 

The Federal Civil Defense Agency (FCDA - the forerunner of the Office of Civil Defense, later to become the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was tasked with determining how well various structures and components of American infrastructure could survive an atomic/nuclear attack. The FCDA named their portion of the exercise OPERATION CUE.

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