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Tours and Visitation
Oak Ridge offers a general facility tour, during the summer months, leaving from the museum. This is the DOE facility tour, and lasts about two and a half hours. The tour takes the visitor to the X-10 reactor, drives through ORNL, goes around the Y-12 complex, and passes near K-25. Though tour is essentially free; but does require admission to the museum, which costs $5. Still, the charge is pretty nominal, and once you tour the facilities, you will likely want to stop off at the museum anyway.
In addition to the DOE bus tour, there is also the train tour, which last a bit over an hour. This tour passes through the gates of the K-25 complex, skirting the facility, and then trundles off into the Tennessee countryside. The cost is $15, and the train does have a snack car. The cars and engine are all of forties vintage, probably not very different from those which brought the war workers, during the Manhattan project. This probably gives the closest view of the old K-25 building, of any public tour.
During the Secret City Festival, a few other tours are also offered. The most interesting, is probably the Y-12 tour. No cameras are allowed on this tour, which actually takes the visitor inside of the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex. the tour lasts an hour and a half, and leaves from the New Hope Center, just outside of the Y012 complex itself. These tours are free; but are only offered during the festival. There are also some exhibits, handouts, and even DVDs available at the New Hope Center. The tor is limited to United States Citizens, and you must have either a passport, or a birth certificate, in order to take this tour.
Also available during the festival, is the Heritage Center History Trail Tour, which leaves from the museum. It is offered by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, costs $10, and lasts just under two hours. This tour concentrates mostly on the area around the K-25 plant, and emphasizes the history of the Oak Ridge area, and the many small communities which were uprooted when the project took the area over. Many of the small farming communities here had cemeteries (which have been preserved and maintained), schools, and churches. There is even a slave cemetery here, from a local plantation. Also featured is a look at the remains of the Happy Valley ghost town (formerly 12,000 residents), and stops at various vistas and lookouts.
There is also a shorter tour, of the X-10 reactor, and of the ORNL complex. This tour lasts about an hour and a half, and is a sort of a truncated version of the longer DOE tour offered through out the summer. The tour is free, and departs from the museum.
Below are a few shots taken during the Heritage Center History Trail Tour.