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Richland Rediscovers Manhattan Project Era Documents

Anna King
Northwest News Network

City of Richland workers recently rediscovered many documents from the Manhattan Project era. They are finding old records from when the southeastern Washington city was a high-security government town that sprung up to build the Atomic Bomb.

The City of Richland recently hired a public records consultant. It needed help sorting out just what to keep, what to throw out and how to organize it all.

Pam Bykonen works for the city and dodged black widow spiders to sleuth through attics, dusty desk drawers and cabinets. So far she has found blueprints, maps, booklets, scrapbooks and even old pictures and films – some dating back to the 1940s.

One of the things she’s most excited by is finding the deeds of sale for Richland homes and shops that were built and once owned by the federal government “and was handed over to private individuals, churches, the city itself," she says. "And it just struck me that this was the beginning of the city.”

The city plans to make some of the materials available in the Richland room of its public library.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.