Atomic City, Idaho

Experimental Breeder Reactor 1, Atomic City, Idaho
Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 site

Atomic City, located on US Highway 26 just south of the Idaho National Laboratory in northwestern Bingham County, is only a step or two from being a ghost town these days. The place was much bigger back in the days when the Idaho National Laboratory was operating full speed ahead and nuclear power generation was still just a dream in the physicists eyes. Originally, the town was known as Midway, because it was midway between Blackfoot and Arco. Since operations at the DOE site have dropped way off, most folks still living in Atomic City are of the retired type.

Northwest of Atomic City on US Highway 26 is the Experimental Breeder Reactor 1, the first place on Earth where atomic energy was successfully harvested for the production of electricity (4-200 watt light bulbs). The reactor was actually designed to validate a theory that suggested a breeder reactor was possible. The reactor first went critical on August 24, 1951 but it wasn't until 1953 that experiments confirmed the reactor was producing new fissionable material. Then on November 29, 1955, the reactor suffered a partial meltdown that was later attributed to operator error. The reactor was repaired and ran more experiments until it was officially shut down and deactivated in 1964. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and is still open to the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Fast Facts about Atomic City, Idaho
Atomic City, Bingham County, ID 83215
Elevation: 5,013'
Latitude: 43.4426°N
Longitude: 112.8132°W
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 96.0%
Japanese: 4.0%
High School or Higher: 85.7%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 9.5%
2009 Estimates:
Population: 25
Males: 15
Females: 10
Median Resident Age: 57.5 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $46,200
Estimated Median Home Value: $49,750
Population Density: 245 People per Square Mile
2011 Cost of Living Index for Atomic City: 89.9
Unemployed (March 2011): 8.3%
Photo of the Experimental Breeder Reactor site courtesy of Veedar.
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