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The government detonated the first of a series of nuclear bombs at its new Nevada Proving Ground, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, on this date in 1951. The effect was a tremendous explosion, the flash from which was seen as far away as San Francisco. In the post-World War II/Cold War-era the West, with its large swaths of unimpeded, unpopulated federally-owned land, was an ideal region for military testing. The federal government continued to conduct atmospheric tests for six more years at the Nevada site, studying the effects on humans by stationing ground troops as close as 2,500 yards from ground zero and moving them even closer shortly after the detonation. By 1957, though, the effects of radioactivity on the soldiers and the surrounding population led the government to begin testing bombs underground, and by 1962, all atmospheric testing had ceased.
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