Cominco Heavy Water Facility - Trail, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 06.210 W 117° 44.277
11U E 446136 N 5439223
Quick Description: A very secret part of the "Manhattan Project" took place at this site. Even today few people know that the City of Trail contributed to the Manhattan Project.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 1/19/2019 4:58:31 PM
Waymark Code: WMZXKZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Torgut
Views: 5

Long Description:
It's not widely known that a key piece of the puzzle of harnessing nuclear power for the first time is to be found here, at the Teck Fertilizer Plant in Trail, BC.

Commonly known as Cominco, Teck, in 1942, was known as the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company of Canada Limited. It was in 1942 that the US military undertook to develop an atomic bomb by harnessing the power of the atom and the Manhattan Project was born.

A key ingredient in the production of weapons grade fissionable material is known as "heavy water". Heavy water consists of Deuterium and Oxygen instead of Hydrogen and Oxygen. It occurs naturally in very minute quantities and constitutes a very tiny percentage of common water. It is similar to but heavier than water, hence the name.

For those interested in the science behind the process, I would refer them to this paper.

It was quickly seen that the fastest and most economical avenue toward heavy water production was Cominco's fertilizer plant, as it already had most of the requisite equipment and the required power supply in place. Necessary buildings and equipment not already at the plant were hastily built under the utmost secrecy and heavy water production began. All of this was known as "Project 9".

The most obvious addition to the plant was the tall tower erected in the centre of the fertilizer plant. (Coordinates given are at or near the location of this tower, long since removed.) The project actually continued for many years after the war, under a contract with the Atomic Energy Commission. This contract expired in 1955, and the tower was razed several years after that.

The plaque shown in the photos is mounted in front of the security office here: N 49 6.259 W 117 44.209


In the midst of World War II, Churchill recognized the importance of perseverance to the success of the war effort. The people of Trail also recognized this factor and answered the call to duty in many ways.

Upon the outbreak of war in 1939, the Government of Canada conscripted virtually the entire metal and chemical production of the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company of Canada Ltd., as the company was then known. The government also set metal prices at low levels and continuously demanded more as World War II continued. The company's Fertilizer plants began to make explosive-grade nitrates and the Shops were asked to produce marine engines for the Navy.

The Brilliant Dam, located near Castlegar, was built to supply additional power to the rapidly expanding plants at Trail. Many of the best technical staff was assigned to government wartime work and 2500 of the company's employees went into military service making it difficult to satisfy the government's needs.

With patriotic feelings fuelling the home front spirit, Selwyn G. Blaylock, the company's president, strove to fill the ensuing labour vacuum in order to expand plants and sustain production. He managed this by taking the now historic and then unusual step of hiring women to take the place of the absent men.

In 1942, at the demand of the governments of Canada and the United States, the very secret plant known only as "Project 9''was built at this complex. The Allies had recently discovered that Germany had ample quantities of uranium and heavy water, two of the components recognized by Albert Einstein as requirements for harnessing the potential of nuclear energy, at its disposal. It was quickly decided that the fastest way of producing the mass amounts of heavy water needed for the American "Manhattan project" would be to make use of the existing hydrogen plant in Trail.

The company's contract with the Atomic Energy Commission concluded at the end of 1955, and Project 9 was shut down as more efficient sources of supply then existed.
From the plaque on the site

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