Amazing atomic age sites in Mississippi

The Roaming Parkers are all about Travel, Adventure, Conservation, and Food.  We just got back from a wonderful family vacation at the Riviera of the South – Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Before that, we were hiking at Mount Saint Helens and exploring in Bigfoot’s footprints in the Pacific Northwest.

But you do not always have to go so far out of your way to find interesting travel, adventure, conservation, and food destinations.  I bet wherever you live, you can find enough amazing destinations within 2-3 hours drive of you to fill up a year of adventures!

For instance, here are three amazing-sounding destinations right here in Mississippi that I have never been to and I bet you haven’t either.  In fact, I’d be willing to give a crisp new dollar bill to the first person who has been to all three (so long as you can send me photos and tell me stories about your visits.)

The Salmon/Sterling Site


Did you know that the only atomic weapons testing that ever took place in the Continental U.S. east of the Mississippi River happened right here in south Mississippi less than 20 miles from metropolitan Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi?

In a series of two detonations, code-named Project Salmon and Project Sterling in the 1960s, a 5.3 kiloton device and a 380-ton device were exploded in the Tatum salt dome 2700 feet below the surface. The experiments were done to figure out how to detect underground explosions and the data obtained are still used to verify compliance with nuclear treaties.

Until just a handful of years ago the site was restricted and continual testing and monitoring was done to make sure none of the radioactive hillbillies or mutant graboids escaped containment.  Eventually, the site was turned back over to the State of Mississippi for use as a timber preserve, but there are areas that are open to the public.

Also, when you visit the Salmon Site, you are only about a dozen miles from Black Creek – one of Mississippi’s finest paddling rivers.

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station and Military Park


Grand Gulf Nuclear Station is Mississippi’s only operational nuclear reactor.  It is a stable, productive, profitable reactor, supplying about 20% of the electricity used in Mississippi.

The Nuclear Station was built over part of the hiking trails surrounding the historical Grand Gulf Military Park – a ghost town and site of a Civil War battle leading up to the even more infamous Seige of Vicksburg.

So, if you’re interested in Atomic era history, nuclear science, Civil War history, or hiking, Grand Gulf might just be a good destination for you.

The Yellow Creek Nuclear Site and waterfalls


In the 1970’s, TVA began building a reactor site at Yellow Creek, north of Iuka in extreme Northeast Mississippi.  Eventually, after budget over-runs, they decided that Mississippians didn’t really need that much electricity and they would never be able to pay for the reactor, much less make a profit, so construction was halted.

But you can still see the 400-foot diameter circular structure that was to be the foundation of the cooling tower.  This was built around the same time as Grand Gulf, and the cooling tower base at Yellow Creek looks to be a twin to the one at Grand Gulf.

Also in the region, less than 2 miles away, are the waterfalls at Yellow Creek – a perpetual source of entertainment for daredevils.