China Lake history comes to life in ‘Project Camel’ talk

China Lake history comes to life in ‘Project Camel’ talkTechnicians packing a "Fat Man" test shape at China Lake Salt Wells Pilot Plant, a highly secret facility of the Manhattan Project, circa 1945. Bomb-shape drops and explosives and explosive-lens development and production were part of Project Camel at NOTS. — Courtesy Photo

The China Lake Museum Foundation’s Lecture Series will continue Thursday, Aug. 16, with “Nukes on the Lake” — a presentation by CLMF Historian Jack Latimer about Project Camel — at 6:30 p.m. in the Coso Room of the Maturango Museum.

The lecture series is being offered as part of the celebration leading up to the Navy’s 75th anniversary at China Lake, coming up in November.

“Los Alamos was the center of the Manhattan Project and the birthplace of the atomic bomb,” said Latimer. “While located far from the sleepy towns of Ridgecrest and Inyokern, in secret, the project was much closer than some of the residents realized. In their backyard, a joint effort between Caltech, Los Alamos and NOTS was taking place. This was Project Camel.”

His presentation will delve into the who, what, where, when and why of the science, engineering and politics surrounding this project.

Latimer has a B.A. and M.A. in mathematics from the University of California at Davis. He came to China Lake in 1961 and left in 1962 to teach mathematics at the University of Alaska for two years. He returned for an additional year of graduate studies at Davis and then returned to China Lake in 1965. He retired from civil service in 2005. He served on the board of directors for the China Lake Museum Foundation for nine years and is now a director emeritus and the China Lake Museum’s historian.

Reservations for the program can be made via chinalakemuseum@mediacombb.net. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Story First Published: 2018-08-03