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Chain Reaction

The Cold War has ended, but the fight over where to put a Rocky Flats museum has just begun.

Taylor says this sort of controversy could dog the proposed Rocky Flats museum, since Coloradans were also divided over whether the bomb factory was a blessing or a curse. "It's incredibly important to keep this alive in our local memory," says Taylor. "The people who worked there are convinced they performed a heroic and patriotic act. The people who protested think if this is forgotten it could happen again. My goal would be to have a museum that's representative of people's experience and doesn't necessarily tell one story one way."

But in other parts of the country, Cold War museums have proven to be popular attractions. In Albuquerque, the National Atomic Museum draws about 120,000 people per year to displays that highlight the development of the nuclear bomb and New Mexico's role in that history. The museum includes reproductions of Little Boy and Fat Man, the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan. "At every point in human history, there's something that's considered to be the ultimate weapon," says Jim Wadell, assistant director of the museum. "There certainly is an interest in this."

It's this interest, says Rocky Flats History Group member John Corsi, that should keep the goal of having a museum alive despite political controversy or disagreement about where to put it. His suggestions for the museum include preserving an abandoned farmhouse and barn on the property that go back to homesteading days and including the story of the protests that helped spur the decision to close the plant.

"I think it should show all the perspectives on Rocky Flats," Corsi says. "It should tell what it was like to work here, what the activists' perspective was in the 1970s, and how the cleanup process took place.

"Hate it or love it, it's a historically significant story."

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