Source: The Nashville Ledger | Tom Wood | May 24, 2019

By 1947, when this image was shot (looking east at the Y-12 works) by famed Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott, Oak Ridge was well established, even though it wasn’t on any maps until 1949. There were 75,000 workers living there then. The city’s population is now about 27,000. — Historic Photograph By Ed Westcott

Who knew the beginning of the Atomic Age was so funny? Sort of like the Humor in Uniform section of “Reader’s Digest,” Oak Ridge historian Ray Smith uses homespun humor to tell a condensed version of the key role his city played in the development of the atomic bombs that ended World War II.

Instead of dwelling on the horrors of war, facts and figures or sobering statistics, Smith combines well-crafted anecdotes, perceptive wit and superb oratory skills to present an informative, inspirational and entertaining multimedia narrative of the founding of Oak Ridge.

Like a modern-day alchemist, he deftly changes atomic matter into a laughing matter.

“(The lecture style) comes natural, it’s a skill that can’t be learned,” says Smith, who was in Nashville recently to discuss the history of “America’s Secret City,” as it is often called today. “I think of myself as a natural storyteller. People will remember the stories and the anecdotes long after they forget the facts or the names.”

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