Manhattan Project National Historical Park: Black History Driving Tour

Pictured: Manhattan Project laborers at Hanford, Washington
Credit: Photo Credit: NARA- DuPont Collection

The Tri-Cities is home to some the most prolific scientific discoveries and advancements of modern time, making the Tri-Cities the premier STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering mathematics) destination in the Pacific Northwest. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MAPR) at Hanford, located just north of the Tri-Cities, is the cornerstone of the Tri-Cities' abundant STEM tourism portfolio with a wealth of history and interesting sites like the B Reactor, where visitors can step back in time and explore the decommissioned plutonium production facility. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park tells the story of the top-secret government effort, the Manhattan Project, meant to bring about the end of World War II. Equally as interesting as the technological developments of the Manhattan Project are the people.

In 1943, 1,500 Hanford residents were displaced from their homes, farms and orchards by the federal government for the project. Thousands of workers, including the most prominent scientists of the time, moved to what is now known as the Tri-Cities to support the war effort. The clandestine project was not revealed until the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most were stunned to learn that they played a role in the development of this nuclear technology, paving the way for a new world for millions of people across the globe.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is tasked with interpreting the events and telling the stories of the people involved in this remarkable endeavor. Part of Hanford’s story is that of the 15,000 Black Hanford workers and their families, and the civil rights struggle they endured during and after the Manhattan Project. They not only made improvements in their communities but also helped lay the foundation for future civil rights leaders. To recognize the contributions of the Black Hanford workers, MAPR developed a self-guided driving tour of the Tri-Cities.

The “Hanford: Black History Driving Tour” brings visitors to sites that are an important part of the story of African Americans in the Tri-Cities. There are six stops:

How to Access:

  1. The Hanford: Black History Driving Tour is available through the National Park Service free mobile app.
  2. Search “Manhattan Project National Historical Park” within the app.
  3. Click on “Self-guided tours.”
  4. Scroll down the list of available tours until you see “Hanford: Black History Driving Tour.”
How to find the Hanford: Black History Driving Tour on the National Park Service app. Courtesy of National Park Service.

Tri-IDEAs is a program exploring and celebrating Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility through tourism in the Tri-Cities.

At Visit Tri-Cities, we believe travel is transformative on multiple levels. Exploring new destinations exposes us to different ideas, cultures, history, heritages and people. Through Tri-IDEAs, Visit Tri-Cities will connect with local business owners, community leaders, event organizers, residents and more to highlight, share and celebrate the diversity of the Tri-Cities that can be experienced through travel and tourism activities.