Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Robley Johnson’s Interview

Robley “Rob” Johnson arrived in Hanford May 2, 1943, at the age of 35, one of the first DuPont people on the scene. He came from Gopher Ordnance Works, a powder plant near St. Paul. At Hanford, Johnson supervised DuPont’s photo crew. The War Department photographs of Hanford released after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were his, although he did not receive direct credit.

John Marshall’s Interview

After receiving his doctorate, John Marshall was hired to assist Leo Szilard with his experiments at Columbia. Afterwards, Marshall traveled to Chicago to work on Chicago Pile-1, and finally to Richland to work on the B Reactor at the Hanford site. Marshall was on duty when the reactor shut down due to xenon poisoning. He discusses his experience working for Szilard and alongside Fermi, as well as the steps taken when the B Reactor shut down on his watch.

Fred and Diana VanWyck’s Interview

The VanWycks, Fred (“Van”) and Diana (“Di”), moved to Richland (near Hanford) in 1944 from Charleston, West Virginia, where Van worked at DuPont’s Belle Plant as a technician. At Hanford, Van was a plant operator, while Di raised their sons and volunteered actively in the community. In this era, Richland was a raw, new, wind-blown, almost treeless town. The VanWycks watched it change to a pretty city of more than 30,000, with shade trees in abundance and grass that halted the sand storms of the 1940s. Richland had been a government-owned town, and remained so until 1957 when the Atomic Energy Commission allowed private ownership of residences.

Bill and Louise Cease’s Interview

Bill Cease worked in the 100 and 300 areas at Hanford, working as a patrolman and later as an operator at B Reactor and D Reactor. His wife Louise accompanied him to Hanford, and worked at Penney’s. In this interview, Bill discusses how he came to work at Hanford in 1944 after working in Bridgeport, PA, at the Remington Plant making explosives. Bill elaborates on the various roles he had at Hanford, what working conditions were like, the technical aspects of his work, and his reactions to the bomb. Bill and Louise also discuss social life at Hanford, what the living conditions were like, and how the dust impacted them.

Watson C. Warriner, Sr.’s Interview

Watson C. Warriner, Sr., a trained chemical engineer, worked for DuPont on the Manhattan Project. During the war he worked on building ordnance plants and acid plants, and helped design and build the chemical separation plants at Hanford (also known as the 221 T-plant or “Queen Marys”). He discusses the trains and cask car system used at Hanford and life in the dormitories on the secret site. He recalls going to New York City with his wife to celebrate V-J Day with thousands of other people crowded into the streets.