MYSTERY WIRE — Area 51 might be the world’s best known ‘secret’ base but there is another, much larger facility in the Nevada desert that has been host to highly classified programs and testing.
For more than 30 years, one man has worked as a gatekeeper for those secrets.
Darwin Morgan is the Director of the NNSS public affairs office. He has spent 31 years as a portal through which secrets were shared and rumors were quashed.
“I get journalists who think that they have to come out here and think they have to have anti-seize on, that every square inch of the site is contaminated when in fact that we’ve only impacted about 10% of the site, the rest of the site is pristine,” Morgan said in a recent interview. “You get people coming out here who honestly are journalists coming out who honestly believe that they’re going to see five legged rabbits and giant toads and things like that.”
The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has been nuked more than any place on earth, but the atomic tests conducted above and below ground for decades are only a slice of the sensitive programs and technology that were developed at the site.
The site is riddled with hundreds of miles of tunnels, secret labs underground, buildings where home-made bioweapons kits were built and robotic technology was tested.
Morgan has made almost 400 visits to the test site, showing not only journalists around the site, but also elected officials and other dignitaries. He shows people locations like the Sedan crater. “To watch people when they walk up there and see the sheer magnitude and enormity of that crater, and how it was formed from 104 kiloton thermonuclear weapons. It leaves people in awe,” Morgan said.
There is much at the site that leaves people in awe. It is a gigantic canvas of secrecy, pockmarked by programs once heavily classified.
For three decades, Morgan has been sharing those secrets with the public. For example, in the days leading up to the Afghanistan war, the pentagon tested bunker buster missiles in test site tunnels. A secret lab was also created at Area 12, using over the counter equipment, to identify bioweapons. “That Defense Threat Reduction agency was trying to understand how do you detect the signals that are coming from the places that are making those,” Morgan told Mystery Wire.
Another location he has shown to visitors is where John F. Kennedy inspected atomic rocket engines built for space travel. This is known as the NERVA site, also known as the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application, and it remains standing on the NNSS.
A few years ago, Morgan showed Mystery Wire the gun turret from the U.S.S. Louisville warship. It’s sitting alone in the middle of the desert on the site because it was used to hold sensor equipment during atomic tests.
Then there was the time Morgan helped arrange a first-ever look at the training center for the OST. This little-known government office can easily be considered the real men in black.
The OST is the Office of Secure Transportation. These men and women are responsible for transporting nuclear weapons across the nation.
After 31 years of shining a light on dark programs and projects that were otherwise shrouded in mystery, Darwin Morgan is set to retire from the Department of Energy. He hopes he can still visit from time to time and plans to write about more of the untold history. “It’s just, it’s amazing, the amount of things I’ve been able to see in my career out there.”