This blog is just getting started. Come back often for updates. Send me a note about places you think should be included, I'll do my best to get it done, PM me @

Thanks for taking time to be here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Idaho Vacation: EBR-1, The World's First Nuclear Reactor

Highway Historic Marker at Rest Area on Highway 20-26
near EBR-1 Atomic Museum

EBR-1 made history about 60 years ago by producing the world's first usable electrical power using atomic energy.  A tour of this National Historic Landmark makes a great Idaho vacation. 

Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 generated electrical power on December 20, 1951.  This marked the first time in the world usable electrical power was produced from nuclear fuel.  The facility, located in the desert 18 miles southeast of Arco and 50 miles west of Idaho Falls, is just a mile off of US 20, 26.  In 1955 nuclear power from this reactor lit up the city of Arco, the first city to be lit by atomic power.

Arco, Idaho City Hall With Signage Showing It To Be
 First City in World To Be Lit by Atomic Power

The entire EBR-1 building was turned into an Atomic Museum after the reactor was decommissioned in 1964.  President Lyndon B Johnson dedicated EBR-1 as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. 

The museum is open from daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.  Tours are free and can be either self-guided or guided.  Photographs are not only allowed in this nuclear reactor but encouraged. 

EBR-1 National Historic Landmark, World's First
Nuclear Power Plant
 The unimpressive exterior of EBR-1 belies what is inside.  Each of 15 marked exhibits have extensive explanations of not only what one can see but educational information on the processes of converting atomic fuel into usable electricity.  This is truly an educational experience.  The self-guided brochures add to the information presentation. 

A new exhibit opened in 2011 showcasing EBR-2, the successor to EBR-1.  EBR-2 operated from 1964 until 1994.  This exhibit has replicas of the control room and main floor of the reactor.  EBR-2 was larger and more advanced than EBR-1 and supplied most of the electrical power needed by the National Engineering Laboratory while it was active. 

Outside, near the parking lot, are two aircraft nuclear engine prototypes.  They were never commercially developed. 

Sign at Highway Turnoff at EBR-1 Atomic Museum

The emphasis throughout this one-of-a-kind Atomic Museum focuses on education and the history of nuclear power.  One can follow the pioneers of nuclear power development through the well signed exhibits as well as their theories about nuclear power.  Signage in the EBR-2 room even takes a look into the future about the possibilities of nuclear power development. 

Take an hour to visit this museum while traveling through the Idaho desert.  Idaho Falls is 50 miles to the east, Blackfoot 40 miles to the southeast, and Arco is 18 miles northwest.  Just another 20 miles west of Arco is the famous Craters of the Moon National Monument.  This is one great Idaho vacation stop. 

Additional Information:

No comments:

Post a Comment