Kids in Richland can ride their bikes, play basketball, soccer, or tennis, or walk along the Columbia River in Leslie Groves Park. The park is named after another important person who didn’t work at Hanford but played a big role in making sure that Hanford’s facilities got built and produced plutonium for atomic bombs.
Leslie Groves was an officer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was named as the primary military leader in charge of the construction of Hanford and two other places where work was taking place to make bombs for World War II. It was Groves who made the final decision to build Hanford where it sits today after visiting the area in January of 1943. He gave Hanford the code name “Site W”, because he didn’t want very many people to know the real location of Hanford.
Groves was a Brigadier General when he took over the construction work at Hanford and the other sites making up the secret “Manhattan Project”. The Manhattan Project was the code name of the program to build atomic bombs. Under his leadership, Groves managed literally thousands of scientists, engineers, soldiers, and laborers who were building these important facilities. After Groves had succeeded in his mission to develop atomic bombs, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the United States Army for his outstanding leadership during the project.
After World War II ended, and the secrets about making atomic bombs weren’t secret anymore, Groves actually wrote a book about his work in the program. He titled his book “Now It Can Be Told.” Besides that, there have been several movies made about Hanford and atomic weapons. In two of those movies, famous actors Paul Newman and Brian Dennehy actually played the part of Leslie Groves!