Nevada Test Site
in 1950, President Harry Truman established the Nevada Test Site in the middle of Nevada. With the Cold War descending over the World, the United States wanted a test site for nuclear weapons closer than the distant islands of the Pacific Proving Grounds, and Nevada was chosen as the location. From 1951-1992 the Nevada Test Site was the main nuclear testing location in the United States, 928 total, 100 of which were above ground. The mushroom clouds could be seen in Downtown Las Vegas, which soon became popular tourist attractions. During the above-ground tests, the US Army also analyzed survivability of various buildings, fortifications, and shelters, using high-speed cameras. A particularly bad nuclear test in 1953, Upshot-Knothole Harry (later known as "Dirty Harry"), was carried by the wind to and contaminated St. George, Utah, leading to a massive spike in malignant cancer rates (it may also have led to the deaths of many of the cast and crew of the film "The Conqueror", including actor John Wayne and actress Susan Hayward). As far as is known, surface testing stopped in 1962 and underground testing in 1992. The Nevada Test Site, occasionally opened to the public, remains highly secretive, and subcritical tests are said to continue.
Nearby is Yucca Mountain, the controversial site of the would-be National Nuclear Repository. It was approved by Congress in 2002 after 20 years of debates and litigation to house up to 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel. Nevadans as a whole were opposed to the plan, especially the 1987 "Screw Nevada Bill" that halted storage studies at other sites in Washington and Texas, though Nye County where the facilities would be located supported the effort for jobs and a direct county finance support plan. In response, Nevada created Bullfrog County, population 0, to force the funds to go to the state level. It was declared unconstitutional a year later. As for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository Site, it was quietly defunded in 2011, effectively putting the effort on indefinite hold.