1957 Operation Plumbbob Certificate of Participation.
12.5 x 9 in (31.75 x 22.86 cm)
This unusual bit of Americana is a 'Certificate of Participation' in Operation Plumbbob, the largest and most controversial atomic weapon text in the continental United States. The present certificate was issued to Melvin G. Moura. It is signed by Alvin C. Graves (Scientific Advisor), Gerald W. Johnson (Test Director), Hershel E. 'Ted' Parsons (Deputy for Military Operations), James E. Reeves (Nevada Site Manager), and W. W. Allen (Support Director).
The certificate takes the form of a pictorial map of Nevada, where Operation Plumbbob was conducted (Nevada test Site). Various sites are located throughout the map, connected by red roads, all of which refer to nuclear detonations associated with the operation, including Fizeau, Galileo, Stokes, Doppler, John, Kepler, Priscilla, Franklin, and Boltzmann. The sites each appear to represent the shape of the explosion, with several taking on the characteristic mushroom cloud form. Other located sites, many named after famous mountains, or humorously associated with geographical features, also refer to test sites, many of which were subterranean. Among these are the CETG Wildlife Reservation, Frenchman's Indian Reservation, Pogo College, Saturn Cave, the Atom-Lopers Proving Ground, and more. Doubtless referring to the many pigs that were used as test subjects, 'Pig Valley' appears at bottom center.
Operation Plumbbob was a series of nuclear tests conducted between May 28 and October 7, 1957. Based at the Nevada Test Site, it was the biggest, longest, and most controversial atomic weapon test series in the continental United States. The operation consisted of 29 explosions, of which only two did not produce nuclear yield. The controversy surrounding Operation Plumbbob relates to enormous amount of radiation released into the atmosphere. Declassified documents reveal that the Plumbbob tests released approximately 58,300 kilocuries of radioiodine into the atmosphere, significantly increased leukemia risks to any exposed.
Although such certificates were issued to all participants (except maybe the pigs) in the Operation Plumbbob tests, they are today quite rare on the market.