Public gets rare chance to visit site of the first atomic bomb test April 1

The Army says the next chance for the public to visit the historic grounds in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was tested more than 71 years ago is April 1.

The Trinity Test Site at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range near Alamogordo is only open to the public twice a year and the open house usually attracts a big crowd. The second open house is in October.

Visitors can see the desert spot where the bomb was detonated and the McDonald ranch house where the plutonium core of the bomb was assembled, the Army Times reported Friday.

The McDonald house has been restored to the way it looked during the war, the paper reported.

Los Alamos scientists successfully exploded the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site at 5:29 a.m. Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945.

The steel tower that held the bomb disintegrated. Left in its place at the Trinity Site was a crater that stretched a half mile and was several feet deep.

The explosion was felt for miles in the remote area of southern New Mexico where an estimated 19,000 people lived. Radioactive debris settled over New Mexico's Tularosa Basin days later.

“Suddenly, my right eye was blinded by a light which appeared instantaneously all about without any build up of intensity,” wrote one witness whose account has been posted on the Army’s White Sands website, according to the Army Times. “My left eye could see the ball of fire start up like a tremendous bubble or nob-like mushroom.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.