To test a weapon, you need to know the target. Since the whole point of nuclear weapons, especially the neutron bomb, was to kill people but leave buildings standing, the U.S. army constructed a number of “test towns” – chilling recreations of everyday life to serve as Ground Zero for atomic horror. One of the most famous was “Survival Town,” a bucolic suburban sprawl built in the middle of the Nevada desert at a cost of over a million dollars. The creators even populated the houses and buildings with mannequins posed as if they were eating, gardening and other innocuous activities. Then they dropped a 29 kiloton atomic explosion on the whole thing and watched it explode.
Photo credit:National Archives