Top Secret "Dayton Project" History Front And Center At New Cold War Discovery Center

Apr 19, 2018

A Miamisburg site that played a big role in nuclear history will soon be open to the public. It’s the home of the former Mound Laboratories - known to some in the Miami Valley for its important role in developing the first atomic bomb. Beginning this month the Cold War-era Mound will also house a new Dayton History museum. Organizers hope it will showcase this critical but often controversial chapter of American history.

Black lights highlight Mound's radioactive history at the Cold War Discovery Center in Miamisburg, Ohio.
Credit Dayton History

At the height of operations after World War II, Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg employed around 2,500 workers.

The Mound nuclear research complex housed dozens of buildings on more than 300 acres of land.

The complex grew out of work already being performed there as part of the storied World War II-era Manhattan Project to research and develop the first atomic bomb, leading to the attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 200,000 people, and the end of the war


That work and history will be on display at the new Mound Cold War Discovery Center, says Site Manager Mandy Askins.

Site Manager for the Cold War Discovery Center, Mandy Askins, says the research and discoveries born out of the Mound Research Lab contributed much to the space-age technology we see today.
Credit Jerry Kenney

“It really does show the success that these former nuclear sites can be remediated and reused and turned back to the community as an asset,” she says.

It may be an asset now, but the area around the Mound site has been a literal sore-spot for decades. In 1989 it was declared a Superfund site and its cleanup was listed as a major priority. 

That cleanup was finished in 2010 and since then, the Mound Development Corporation has established a thriving business park including at least 16 employers.

Askins says the new discovery center location just makes sense.

 “It’s an area of history that was top-secret for a very long time and now we can share that with the public, another aspect of Dayton history that has contributed to the world.” Dayton History will unveil the Cold War Discovery Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday at 10 a.m.