Was a nuclear Bomb Dropped at Red Lake in the 1950s?
MINNEAPOLIS MORNING TRIBUNE, FEBRUARY 20, 1953
Have three "cup-size” atomic bombs been dropped in tests in northern Minnesota?
An International Falls. Minn, civil defense official is quoted as saying yes. Washington officials say no.
The Winnipeg Tribune quoted E. W. Downward, International Falls civil defense director, as stating the bombs were dropped within the last three months by a B36 bomber over the bombing range in the Red Lake, Minn, area.
Downward obtained his Information from top-level United States military sources, the newspaper quoted him as saying. The newspaper said Downward made his statements at a meeting of the Fort Frances, Ontario, civil defense group Wednesday night in the Rainy Lake hotel in Fort Frances, which is just across the Rainy river from International Falls. Downward yesterday admitted attending the meeting but denied he made the statements. In Washington, the air force said nothing but "no comment." The decision not to talk was made after considerable staff discussion of the matter yesterday, the air force said.
A spokesman for the atomic energy commission in Washington said it would be extraordinary procedure to conduct atom bomb tests within the continental United States without announcing it. However, he refused to comment on the Minnesota incident "We do not discuss the weapons program," he said. "The only place we've announced atomic weapons tests in the United States have been in Nevada."
It was indicated in Washington that if anybody had a "cup-size" atom bomb he wouldn't be carrying it around in a huge B36.
Downward, International Falls city engineer said he did mention at the meeting that the army drops bombs in testing in northern Minnesota during the summer.
"But I didn't say they were atomic," he said. "All everybody talks about nowadays is atomic bombs."
Downward yesterday said he has no knowledge of what kind of bombs are dropped at the Red Lake bombing range, about 70 miles southwest of International Falls.
Downward commented: "Of course, everybody knows that if Russia does come over here she won't be bringing anything but atom bombs."
He said no one from Washington or any other government official has talked to him since his talk at the meeting. Downward said he attended the Fort Frances meeting to "help them out" in setting up their civil defense program.
The newspaper story said the meeting was secret. Downward denied this. He said about 40 people attended the meeting, including J.T. Livingston, Fort Frances mayor and head of Fort Frances civil defense.
When asked about Downward's talk. Livingston said: "Oh, my goodness. You had better find out from him what he said. We talked about a lot of things you know."
Jack McLaren, a member of the Fort Frances civil defense group who was at the meeting, said, "Downward said it all right, but it was in confidence to our group."
McLaren said one member of the Fort Frances civil defense board is a reporter for the Winnipeg Tribune. The reporter was present at the meeting. McLaren said.
B36 bombers have been seen over Minnesota on numerous occasions during the last few months.
The big bombers often operate on a practice route which takes them" from their Carswell, Texas, base over Alaska and then southeastward over North Dakota or Minnesota and back to Texas.
Last Dec. 16 residents of several northern Minnesota communities in the International Falls and Red Lake region reported nocturnal "explosions" which caused their homes to rumble and shake.
At that time air force officers said "some detonation has occurred during the past several evenings" at the Red Lake bombing range.
The air force did not identify the bombing.
Col. E. B. Miller, Minnesota civil defense chief and Down-ward's superior, said: "What Downward is supposed to have said also has come from other people in the area. The military is conducting experiments of all kinds wherever they have the proper facilities.
"We shouldn't be surprised if some hush-hush experiment is going on anywhere. It's nothing extraordinary In view of what’s going on."