Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ground Zero at Five Points

1950 Durham A-Bomb blast map (Duke University Libraries)

This is one of my favorite Durham maps and I'm quite upset that I couldn't get my hands on a large format scanner to display it online in all its glory.[2011 note: a high-res scan of this map is now available at Digital Durham]. My bad photography does not do it justice. The map was created in 1950 by the Durham public works department only a year after the first Soviet nuclear test. I've transcribed the on-map text describing damage in each of the concentric rings as the images are less than clear:

1950 Durham A-Bomb blast map detail - not as blurry as above

" This map is marked in zones of 3000, 6000, and 12000 feet from Ground Zero at Five Points. Sources, William L. Laurence's digest of "The Effects of Atomic Weaponds" published this month by the AEC (The New York Times, August 17 and 18, 1950)
3000 feet - edge of the East Campus to the bus station. Virtual complete destruction of all buildings. Initial nuclear radiation fatal to those not protected by 12 inches of concrete. Blast and heat are so serious that "radiological injury does not need consideration." In other words, almost everyone will be a casualty.
Fire stations, marked in red, are all in, or very close to this area."

" 6000 feet - rest of the East Campus to Lincoln Hospital. Most buildings damaged beyond repair. Serious flame and flash burns, especially from the fire storm resulting from the high winds which will blow into this area. Most fire equipment will already be destroyed. There will be no water pressure. In most American cities there will be 80,000 surviving injured, half of them stretcher cases.
A third of these stretcher cases (12,000) will die within twelve hours from shock unless treated treated immediately with blood plasma or substitutes. "They are the largest group of preventable fatalities." The next most urgent problem is getting all the stretcher cases into hospitals within 72 hours. Those who will get radiation sickness are likely to remain well from seven to ten days. Then those exposed can be treated "in orderly fashion."
Total hospital beds in North and South Carolina (1948- The World Almanac, 1950) are 38,924. Total in this county at that time were 1142. Duke Hospital then had 558 beds."

" 12000 feet - Blast damage to most homes. Very severe fire, window and plaster damage. None of these homes will be fit for occupation. In a typical British city, there will be 100,000 refugees to be provided for. Thermal radiation burns for all those who were outside in this area; most people also subject to radiation, though not in lethal quantities. All overhead power and telephone wires will be down in this area. Hospitals marked in purple."

" Limit of light damage - windows and plaster damage and some fires - will be eight miles or more, depending on the
This eight mile radius includes a little more than half of the county. It would take in Hope Valley, Lowes Grove, Braggtown, Gorman... It would extend to the flat land right below Chapel Hill and about two miles...road to Raleigh."

I would love a clear scan of the map and am curious if anyone out there has one.


Humus said...

It's ironic, or perhaps just policy -- how so much of "ground zero" ended up as rubble without even being bombed.

JHE3 said...

Duck and cover!!

Jessica T. said...

I speculate (rather dangerously) that the the Royal Knights of King David purchased Geer Cemetery from Jesse Geer in 1877. I wonder why the decendants of those enslaved or working at the Cameron Plantation were not as well off as the descendants of those formerly enslaved by Julian Shakespeare Carr. I wonder how the passing of a post civil war generation and the great migration played into these phenomena, including the disaster of Urban Renewal and road building.

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