Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Construction Workers

Marker ID:  
Location: Alvin K. Bissell Park, at the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike (Tennessee Route 95) and South Tulane Ave, Oak Ridge, TN
County: Anderson
Coordinates: N 36° 0.819    W 084° 15.474
  36.01365    -84.2579
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


Construction Workers

Starting with farmland in November 1942, 110,000 construction workers in two-and-a-half years built two huge uranium-235 production plants, Y-12 and K-25, at a cost of $759 million; X-10 and S-50, at a cost of $23 million; and the town for those who worked at the plants to live in, at a cost of $96 million. Bringing together so many skilled and unskilled laborers at the height of World War II was extremely difficult because U.S. war work needed them everywhere. Construction union leaders and their organizations made heroic efforts in helping the War Manpower Commission, U.S. Employment Service, and the Army find the thousands needed. The Oak Ridge bus systems grew to be the 9th largest in the U.S., daily bringing in as many as 20,000 workers, including those from the surrounding counties who could not find living quarters here. At K-25, where the construction work force approached 25,000 in May 1945, a complete town, called by its residents Happy Valley, was built at the work site for workers and their families. It has long since disappeared. In April 1944 the peak employment of construction workers was reached with 47,000 building the plants and the town, now rapidly growing into a city. By the war’s end in August 1945, 218 million man-hours had been devoted to rushed construction in Oak Ridge, yet the rate of disabling injuries was only a quarter of the rate for all U.S. construction industry – a remarkable safety record. The success of the construction work for the Manhattan Project is a lasting tribute to the patriotism, dedication, skill, and hard work of the untiring construction workers.

Erected in Honor of the Construction Workers of All Skills, Crafts, and Trades Who Labored here,
by the Cooperative Agreement of Labor and Management (CALM), June 2005.


More information:
Wikipedia - Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project National Historical Park
US History for Kids - Manhattan Project Timeline
Secret City Commemorative Walk