The Nevada Test Site was created in 1951. U.S. weapon designers at Los Alamos National Laboratory
were convinced that small variations in weapon design would have a large effect on the yield of the detonations scheduled for April as Operation GREENHOUSE
in the Pacific. However, they just needed a series of small detonations to test their hypotheses and designs. The U.S. DOD, in an effort to save on the huge logistic
and construction costs involved in tests at the Pacific Proving Grounds
, had been considering a test site within the Continental U.S. for some time, but so far had rejected the notion for fears of political complications.
By 1951, however, the Korean War was underway and the Pacific shipping lanes didn't look quite so safe, especially if the war spread; plus, the war meant that domestic political opposition to testing was lessened. So, that year, the Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Defense selected an area of what was then known as the Las Vegas Gunnery and Bombing Range and set it aside for nuclear testing. Briefly known as the Nevada Proving Grounds in 1952, it reverted to being called the Nevada Test Site within months.
This area was renamed the Nellis Test Range in 1956. Today, it continues to tantalize desert rats who spend their time watching the adjoining installation known to it's owners the U.S. Air Force as Area 51.