Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Streaming troubles? We've made changes. Please click here on for more information.

Why Padre Island Was Almost An Atomic Bomb Site

CC0 Public Domain
Historic image of a nuclear weapons test.

From Texas Standard:

Seventy years ago this week, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mike Cox is an author and award-winning journalist, he writes that Texas’ Padre Island was on the short list for testing the bomb.

On how close Padre Island was to becoming a test site:

“South Padre Island was one of eight sites that the U.S. Military considered as a place to explode the first atomic bomb. And it actually came down to about three sites that were pretty high on the list: one was in California, one was the Alamagordo site in New Mexico and the other one was South Padre Island — which, admittedly, at the time was pretty remote. But eventually they decided on blowing up that first device in New Mexico.”

On why Padre Island was considered:

“South Padre had been used as a gunnery range for the Army Air Corps. It was a very remote area… It was, at that point of course, really undeveloped as a tourist site and then across from it was the King Ranch which was also, at that time, nearly one million acres of undeveloped land. But, on the plus side, Corpus Christi was 120 miles away and it had rail connections and there was also a Naval Air Station there. So it would have worked.”

On observations in El Paso of the Alamagordo explosion:

“My uncle actually saw the explosion. He was a school teacher in El Paso… He was up early on the day of that first explosion and he saw this tremendous light in the north, and he assumed it was just a forest fire in the mountains.”

On what it would have meant for today’s beaches:

“It would have ruined the area probably for tourism for a long time, and we might or might not have the national seashore that we have there today if that blast had occurred.”

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
Related Content