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SOLD OUT: Additional tickets may become available. Please call 202-633-3030 or email us to get on the Wait List.

Inside Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Where the Manhattan Project Began
4-Day Tour

Depart: Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 7:00 a.m.
Return: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 11:00 p.m.
Code: 1NNOAK

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The Spallation Neutron Source provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams for research and development (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

In 1942, a secret city emerged, nestled in the scenic Tennessee mountains. Oak Ridge and its research center were created from 59,000 acres of farm land to play a critical role in the top-secret Manhattan Project, which produced the material for America’s first nuclear weapon. Today, Oak Ridge is a mecca for leading energy researchers from around the globe, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy facility that remains at the forefront of science and technology. Oak Ridge’s contributions to science are recognized in the name of one of the periodic table’s newest elements, tennessine.

The partnership of the Smithsonian, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Smithsonian Associates offers a rare chance to go behind the scenes at this center for cutting-edge energy science. This 4-day study tour brings 40 participants into the heart of Oak Ridge’s past and present, guided by the staff and the scientists who lead and conduct its research.    

The tour includes special access to many areas of Oak Ridge that are not open to the general public. Even the accommodations are insiders-only: tour participants stay within the ORNL campus at the comfortable and modern Guest House used for visiting scientists and researchers.

Highlights of exclusive tour include:

  • A full day centered on the history of the city of Oak Ridge and its role in the development of the atomic era. It includes visits to the Y-12 National Security Complex, the nation's center for storing and processing enriched uranium, and the X-10 Graphite Reactor, a National Historic Landmark.
  • A close-up look at current major research projects, led by ORNL staff members who provide insights into their work. Participants visit the Spallation Neutron Source, the world’s foremost center for neutron science for the study of materials; the National Transportation Research Center, a facility focused on increasing the safety and efficiency of transportation systems; and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, home of the Titan supercomputer.
  • A private dinner and evening at the Museum of Appalachia and a special tour of Oak Ridge’s American Museum of Science & Energy before opening hours; both are Smithsonian Affiliate facilities.

This tour includes a significant amount of outdoor and indoor walking and standing, as well as stairs.


  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, admissions and fees, gratuities, and meals (three breakfasts, four lunches, and three dinners).
  • Overnight accommodations are at the Oak Ridge Guest House, which is an entirely smoke- and alcohol-free facility.
  • Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW, with a pickup stop at the Horner Road commuter lot at about 7:25 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $160 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is mailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Registrants may want to consider purchasing trip insurance.
  • Please note: Security and background information is required from all participants. Although U.S. citizenship is not required to register, foreign nationals may not participate in a portion of the Y-12 National Security Complex tour; an alternate activity will be provided.


Detailed information for overnight tours
is mailed approximately FOUR WEEKS
prior to departure. For immediate questions
please call 202-633-8647