Oak Ridge, city (1990 pop. 27,310), Anderson and Roane counties, E Tenn., on Black Oak Ridge and the Clinch River; founded by the U.S. government 1942, inc. as an independent city 1959. For years Oak Ridge was used by the federal government to pursue activities in the fields of atomic energy and nuclear physics. The site was chosen (1942) for what was called the Clinton Engineer Works, and the city was built to house the workers who developed the uranium-235 and plutonium-239 for the atomic bomb. The community's existence was kept secret from most of the country until the summer of 1945. The project was under the control of the Atomic Energy Commission, but the city has since (1955–59) been turned over to its residents. The former Clinton National Laboratory for nuclear research became (1948) the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In the 1990s the federal government began decontaminating and leasing much of the complex to private industry, and one section was renamed the East Tennessee Technology Park. The Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of many educational institutions, manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Tourist attractions include the American Museum of Atomic Energy, a nearby nuclear graphite reactor, and an arboretum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.