Part 2 of 2
For days after the first atomic test on July 16, 1945, a powdery ash floated from the sky, coating everything in the Tularosa Basin, including cattle and crops. Then it rained, washing the stuff into wells and water sources.
Ranchers noticed that their cattle turned white or partially white. Family pets similarly exposed had partially white coats. A rancher said his beard stopped growing for a few months, when it began growing again, it was white.
Locals visited Trinity Site, walked around the cavity left behind, picked up the green glass that was sand before the blast, and looked at the twisted remains of the tower that suspended the bomb.
Immediately after the blast, as a red haze descended, scientists and military personnel scrambled to evacuate.
North of Trinity Site, men waited with vehicles to evacuate civilians, but radiation readings indicated they were safe, so far as they knew then.
Photographs taken two months later show Manhattan Project leader J. Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists, unprotected, examining the tower’s remnants.
Today, knowing what we know, it’s surprising how casual everyone was. It was the world’s first nuclear fallout, and New Mexico was the recipient.