Blasted! Indy’s Atomic Adventures Exposed!

Posted by on June 3, 2008

Well, our family went to see the newest Indiana Jones film this last weekend and personally, I thought it was great! Yeah, Indy looked a little old, but it didn’t seem to take anything away from the picture. Now, I’m no film critic and this post isn’t about the film, BUT I was intrigued by his adventures with the nuclear blast scene.


With the popular culture entranced by the ideas of atomic energy be it used in everyday life or in weapons or even propulsion systems, atomic energy weapons testing was furiously undertaken in the early years of the 1950’s. The typical civilian was aware on a daily basis of the need to be prepared for atomic warfare, via fallout shelters, etc.


In a quote from Time, said one person:

“…”When I get my shelter finished, I’m going to mount a machine gun at the hatch to keep the neighbors out if the bomb falls. I’m deadly serious about this. If the stupid American public will not do what they have to to save themselves, I’m not going to run the risk of not being able to use the shelter I’ve taken the trouble to provide to save my own family….This kind of tough talk from a Chicago suburbanite last week had echoes all over the U.S., as the headlines spread uneasiness and the shelter business boomed. In Austin, Texas, Hardware Dealer Charles Davis stashed four rifles and a .357 Magnum pistol in his shelter and pointed out its four-inch-thick wooden door: “This isn’t to keep radiation out, it’s to keep people out.” (3)

After doing some research, I’ve found out that most of the testing was done at a place called the Nevada Test Site. With over 900 different atomic tests done over the years, the site has seen most types of atomic weapons in a variety of situations.


I’ve included a link to this document in the links list below. It’s very extensive and includes a lot of information on the series of shots.

If you will remember in the picture, Indy ended up in a typical suburban neighborhood of the 1950’s. While I have yet to pin down the exact atomic test the movie is based off of, is very close to the one entitled “Annie” which belonged to a larger set of tests called “Operation Cue”, conducted by multiple federal agencies, including the Federal Civil Defense Administration. In all, there were many tests in this series.


Of the “Annie” shot, they said:

“…In preparation for the test, the FCDA constructed a ‘typical American community’ complete with houses, utility stations, automobiles, furniture, appliances, food, and even mannequins simulating the people who might live in the town….The houses were constructed of different materials with varied exteriors, and were heavily instrumented. Fresh food was flown in from San Francisco and Chicago and placed with mannequins in kitchens and dining rooms throughout the test area…”

After reading the report, I didn’t find any lead-lined refrigerators though!

I’ve included many resources with this post, that contain images, movies and documentation on the tests. It’s worth the time to look through these if you are interested, especially the depth of research that went into them.


Of course I have yet to mention the other airborne atomic tests that included, unfortunately, soldiers that were later proved to be harmed by the fallout.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post. I apologize for the delay in getting some fresh stuff to the blog, but with summer vacation and scouting and camps, it’s going to be a while before I can get adjusted to a new posting schedule. Also, in the next month or so, there will be days I won’t be able to post just because of vacations, camps, etc. Thank you for reading and as always, let me know if there are topics you would like to see more of!

I should have the podcast up later today sometime.

Have a great day, and see you tomorrow!


(1-2) Nara

(3) Time Magazine Archive, Friday, August 18, 1961

(4-6) Nara


Nevada Site Office

Information on “Annie” (PDF)

Nevada Site Films (Windows Media and MPG formats)

Nevada Site Main Library

“Operation Cue” (film) Prelinger Archives)

“Operation Upshot Knothole” (Atomic Forum)

Nevada Test Site Historical Background (PDF)


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