Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Oak Ridge – Secret City

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


Oak Ridge – Secret City

In November 1942, Army Engineers were ordered to build a town for 13,000 people. A year later their target grew to 42,000, and the actual population reached 75,000 in September 1945 – almost three times the city’s 2005 population. Shown on no maps, and known through the war not as Oak Ridge but as Clinton Engineer Works, it was truly a “Secret City”. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago produced an attractive design featuring neighborhood schools linked by winding streets along Black Oak Ridge. In 1943 Captain P.E. O’Meara was the first town manager, but with the population exploding that fall, the Army contracted with Turner Construction of New York to come in and manage city operations. The Roane–Anderson Company set up by Turner became the landlord, eventually renting and maintaining more the 35,000 housing units. The company also managed 17 eating places serving 40,000 meals a day, a 500-person housekeeper service, the Guest House hotel, a laundry, garbage pick-up, coal delivery, a bus service for up to 120,000 riders a day, a railroad with five locomotives, a chicken farm, and a 3,000-cattle farm. Roane–Anderson also brought in 200 businesses and ships for residents. Because of the war, everything was in short supply, so Roane–Anderson’s 10,000 employees had an unpopular job, but handled it very well. Their Recreational & Welfare Association, assisted by a council of 14 citizens, improved the residents’ quality of life by sponsoring 17 different sports, four recreation halls, two community centers, eight playgrounds, and, by 1945, meeting places for some 75 different clubs and societies, as well as 22 churches.

Erected by the City of Oak Ridge in June 2005
In Honor of the 75,000 Patriots from All Over America
Who Lived and Worked in the Secret City from 1942 to 1949.


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