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 Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story
(5 minutes)

click here to view
Windows Media Version


Quicktime Version

This video "trailer" introduces a ninety-minute documentary about the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge during World War II and the succeeding history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee - a most unusual and "Secret City" with a world-changing history.


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Click here for Quicktime version

Secret City -
The Oak Ridge Story

A ninety-minute documentary film that tells the story of the greatest scientific and industrial achievement in the history of the world that "helped win the greatest war the world has ever known" as predicted by John Hendrix, the Prophet of Oak Ridge.  

From 1942 until 1949, Oak Ridge a city of 75,000 people did not exist on ANY map.  The 100,000 people working here to both build and operate the world's first successful uranium separation facilities were locked in a battle with Germany and Japan, although they did not specifically know exactly what the true nature of the "battle" was, they only knew THEY HAD TO WIN IT. 

Gladys Owens, a "Calutron Girl"  who worked for eight months operating the massive electromagnetic separation machines in "Beta 2" of Y-12 without knowing more than if she wore pins in her hair that the machines she operated would pull them out and stick them like glue to any metal surface she came near.  She still, 60 years later, recalls the words told her at the conclusion of her training to work at Y-12: "We cannot tell you what you are going to do, but we can tell you how to do it and we can only tell you that if our enemies achieve what we are attempting before we do, God help us!" 

Oak Ridge has a tremendous history, a story that has not been well told although much has been written about the Manhattan Project.  The focus has too often been on other aspects of the atomic bomb, such as the tests in New Mexico and Nevada or the locations where it was used.  This documentary film tells the fascinating Oak Ridge Manhattan Project story and more.

Six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor caused us to enter what became World War II, our government decided that if anyone could figure out how to build an atomic bomb, we had to do it first.  We knew the Germans already had a head start.  Quickly, it was decided that 59,000 acres in East Tennessee farmland would be an ideal location for such an effort.

Oak Ridge grew within a matter of months to the fifth largest city in Tennessee, but was a SECRET CITY.  A city that required special badges to be worn by all inhabitants, even children.  840 buses brought people to work here and took them home. The city operated twenty-four hours a day.  The plants operated day and night.  Thousands of rail cars brought materials into Oak Ridge and ALL of them left empty.  What was going on here?  The documentary film Secret City - The Oak Ridge Story brings it all to light for the first time.

Using original film of the actual construction of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge in conjunction with hundreds of live interviews of people who actually lived the experience of the birth of a "SECRET CITY" and the tremendously successful effort to create an atomic bomb, Secret City - The Oak Ridge Story conveys an unparalleled sense of history and achievement. The interviews are resounding tributes to the wide range of the workers in Oak Ridge from the most scientific minds in the world to the laborer who had no idea what was being done.

The city today remains one of our nation's crown jewels and has stood the test of time to become a key element of not only the southeast and our nation but also contributes to world peace through support of nuclear nonproliferation efforts and the basic scientific research that literally impacts every aspect of modern life.

Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story
(5 minutes)
Windows Media Version
Quicktime Version
This video "trailer" introduces a ninety-minute documentary film about the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge during World War II and the succeeding history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee - a most unusual and "Secret City" with a world-changing history.

Local Oak Ridge residents were interviewed to capture their unique historical perspective of Oak Ridge.  Their interview commentary was used to help relate the authentic story in a documentary film titled Secret City - The Oak Ridge Story.

Richard Gallaher

Ray Smith

Mick Wiest

Lester Fox

John Gillette

Joanne Gailer

Dr. Lewis Preston

Alvin Weinberg


The first segment of the documentary film was completed by June 16, 2005 and was featured in a special premiere showing of the film at the Oak Ridge Tinseltown theater.  Two opportunities (7:00 PM and 9:00 PM) were reserved for the exclusive showing.  Tickets were sold on a first come first served basis AND ALL 900 AVAILABLE SEATS WERE SOLD OUT. Two additional opportunities were provided to view the documentary - at the Tennessee Theater on Saturday, June 18, at 11:30 AM where 500 people attended and on Sunday, June 19, at the Pollard Auditorium at 2:00 PM where another 300 people attended.

Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story
(5 minutes)
Windows Media Version
Quicktime Version
This video "trailer" introduces a ninety-minute documentary about the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge during World War II and the succeeding history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee - a most unusual and "Secret City" with a world-changing history.

"Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story"
A Documentary Film of Historical Importance

The story of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is one of courage, patriotism and ingenuity. Since it's beginnings in the early 1940s, Oak Ridge has played a role in some of the most significant events in US history. From the atomic bomb to medical radioisotopes to the war on terror, Oak Ridge is truly one of this country's most valuable resources whose history is as unique as the people who live there.

Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story is a 6-hour documentary film series on the history of Oak Ridge. This PBS-style documentary series explores the city's founding, people, places, events and evolution to one of the nation's leading research centers.

The film consists of interviews with Oak Ridge leaders, historians, residents, government officials, scientists and others; photographs and motion pictures from personal, local and government archives; unique stories of people, places and events; and thorough historical research.

The producers tell the story of Oak Ridge in a distinct and unique way that has not been previously presented. Oak Ridge Mayor David Bradshaw says this film “will be the definitive history of Oak Ridge."

The key results of the project is two-fold:

1. Preservation: Key historical events, people and achievements are permanently preserved on digital film and integrated to tell the story of Oak Ridge. This story involves both scientific and personal perspectives. The project fully supports the Department of Energy's Manhattan Project Preservation Initiative and the Cold War Preservation Initiative, and can be utilized by local DOE contractors to support their individual Historic Preservation Plans.

2. Education: The project is structured to make available the entire film series (via DVD) to Tennessee high schools and libraries at minimal or no cost.

In order to maintain historical accuracy and integrity and to encourage community involvement in this project, the producers of this film established a Historical Advisory Board. Members included:

DR. ALVIN WEINBERG, former director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory

COLLEEN BLACK, longtime Oak Ridge resident and Historian

MAURGARITE BLAKE, former director of the Oak Ridge Junior Playhouse

DAVID BRADSHAW, Mayor of the City of Oak Ridge

WILLIE GOLDEN, longtime Oak Ridge resident and Oak Ridge City Councilman

RAY SMITH, BWXT Y-12 representative and local historian

DICK SMYSER, former publisher of The Oak Ridger newspaper

MICK WIEST, former President of Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association

ED WESTCOTT, official Manhattan Project photographer

BILL WILCOX, former technical director of DOE K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Oak Ridge

Areas of special interest to be featured in this project include (but are not limited to):

The Manhattan Project
Since Oak Ridge was established as America's secret city to help win World War II, the beginnings of Oak Ridge and the government's role is the foundation for this documentary. A significant portion of the film (40-50%) will be dedicated to the founding of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project.

Department of Energy
The government has always had a significant impact on the stability and growth of not only Oak Ridge, but the entire East Tennessee valley region. This documentary will explore the role of the Department of Energy to the region and the ongoing relationship between DOE and the area's residents, industry and way of life.

The People
Oak Ridge has always had a very diverse population. Scientists and engineers from all over the world moved to Oak Ridge to work for the government, in addition to thousands of laborers, construction workers and support staff which built the city. Through the years, Oak Ridge has attracted a unique and cosmopolitan population to work in DOE facilities and to provide services to the community.

Culture & Religion
Due to the uniqueness of the city's population, Oak Ridge enjoys a very diverse cultural influence. From the beginning, Oak Ridge has had its own symphony and chorus, community theatre, ballet, community band and other cultural entities. These organizations have had a significant impact in the lives of Oak Ridge residents and the city's ability to attract business and industry.

Oak Ridgers have always seen the value of a good educational system. This has been reflected in the Oak Ridge school system that continues to be a leader in innovation and exceptional educational quality. Oak Ridge students lead the state in test scores and many go on to attend some of the country's most respected colleges and universities. In addition, Oak Ridge is the home of one of Tennessee's leading community colleges, a number of government-related educational institutions and centers, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the American Museum of Science and Energy and the Oak Ridge Children's Museum.

Research & Innovation
An evolution of the city's purpose has taken place through the past several decades. What once was a single-minded purpose to help build America's most powerful weapon has evolved into a center of research and innovation through which the world has greatly benefited. From the use of products that are used in our homes to discovering new types of energy to fighting the war on terrorism, Oak Ridge is now one of the world's leading research centers. 

The Producer and Director of this film is Keith McDaniel, an East Tennessee native and Oak Ridge resident. Mr. McDaniel is a nationally award-winning television producer and documentary filmmaker.

Production on "Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story" began in 2003, completed the first 90-minute DVD in 2005 and the second 90-minute DVD Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story - 1945 - 2006 in 2006.  

Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story
(5 minutes)
Windows Media Version
Quicktime Version
This video "trailer" introduces a ninety-minute documentary about the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge during World War II and the succeeding history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee - a most unusual and "Secret City" with a world-changing history.


We are proud to announce that David Keith is the narrator of Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story.

PREMIERE: The Premiere at Tinseltown Theatre in Oak Ridge SOLD OUT. Some 900 people viewed the film on Thursday, June 16, 2005. A third and fourth showing was scheduled during the weekend. The Tennessee Theatre featured the film on Saturday, June 18, 2005 where approximately 500 people attended. It showed again in Oak Ridge at the Pollard Auditorum on Sunday afternoon, June 19, 2005, where approximately 300 people attended.

DVD TO BE AVAILABLE: Because of such a positive reception of this first segment of the documentary film, McDaniel and HP Video have decided to make the 90 minute "The War Years" premiere edition available on DVD. The release of the DVD was released August 14, 2005. 

The DVD can be obtained by contacting: E-mail: D. Ray Smith 

Click here to go to the  Knoxville Film Festival 

DVD Sales NEWS RELEASE - August 19, 2005:


Contact: Keith McDaniel 865-523-1073

Oak Ridge documentary released on DVD

The new documentary film "Secret City: The Oak Ridge Story" has been released on DVD for sale to the public, according to the film's producers.

The 90-minute film traces the history of Oak Ridge from its beginnings through the end of World War II and Oak Ridge Mayor David Bradshaw described the film as "the definitive history of Oak Ridge, brilliantly told from the human perspective."

Dennis Ruddy, President and General Manager of BWXT Y-12 said, "This film tells the story of Oak Ridge through the words of some of the people who know it best - the people who lived it. It is the inspiring, informative and sometimes amusing story of one of the great scientific and engineering feats in history."

The DVD can be obtained by contacting: E-mail: D. Ray Smith

According to Keith McDaniel, writer and director of the film, a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the DVD will go toward historic preservation projects in Oak Ridge.

For more information, email:

E-mail Producer: Keith McDaniel

E-mail Webmaster: SmithDRay


Oak Ridge History
K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant
John Hendrix and Y-12
Historical Markers in Oak Ridge
Hymn to Life
Back of Oak Ridge and John Hendrix (Prophet of Oak Ridge) book
The Calutron Girls
Bear Creek Valley
Calutrons Plowshares

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