Flashback 1951: First A-Bomb Test Televised

Sixty-six years ago this week, Los Angeles TV station KTLA made history when it broadcast the live detonation of an atomic bomb dropped in the Nevada desert, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The historic event was captured by cameramen secretly ensconced on the top of a Las Vegas hotel. As the blast unfolded 5:30 in the morning, images were relayed to a transmitter on the Mount Wilson Observatory 200 miles away. It was early days for television so the viewing audience was sparse, even more so because the blast occurred so early in the morning.

The blast was one of a hundred above-ground nuclear tests conducted at the site between 1951 and 1962. Nuclear testing continued until 1992 but most tests were conducted underground.

In all, more than 900 nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Proving Ground, which was established by President Harry Truman in 1950.

News reports of the day indicate the presence of noticeable seismic effects in Las Vegas. The distant mushroom clouds even became tourist attractions.