From the previous post about R.B.Stewart’s leadership at Purdue we learned that Purdue University and the State of Indiana proposed a federal nuclear atomic research program and particle accelerator project (now known as the Fermilab) for the J.K. Lilly land now known as Eagle Creek Park. Since I have never been to Batavia, Illinois, the site chosen for the facility, I thought it might be interesting to post some photos of that facility. As a reminder, from my research on this blog we have learned that the West 86th Street residential subdivision was originally proposed to be the site for an outdoor entertainment venue that eventually located between Fishers and Noblesville and is now known as Verizon Music Center. From our blog research we also learned that the Eagle Creek Nature Preserve (south of West 79th Street) was going to be a massive gravel mining operation, that was halted by the city’s negotiations to swap parkland on West 56th Street for a Colts Training Facility. And now we have the amazing news that our crown jewel, Eagle Creek Park, could have been the site of a particle accelerator. Any one of these projects would have altered the neighborhood we live in enormously. It’s easy to overlook the potential impact any one of these would have on our area. The parks department’s leadership and their emphasis on protecting parkland played a large role in converting the city land destined for mineral excavation to a pristine nature preserve. Neighborhood activism played a role in the outdoor amphitheatre opposition, and politics in Illinois trumped Indiana’s efforts to secure the particle accelerator. In hindsight it does seem that sometimes the deal you don’t get is the best deal.
For the “winning” farmers in Illinois, their history is fascinating and has been well-chronicled on the Fermi website. “In 1967 the state of Illinois began to acquire the farms of the 6,800-acre National Accelerator Laboratory site. Fifty-five farm families had to move from their homesteads. The map shown above shows the locations of the farms around the site. Many parcels of land were held by lending institutions. The roads are somewhat different now, from the early days when this map was drawn, but the general features of the site remain unchanged.
Further information on the role of Purdue and Indiana in trying to locate a particle accelerator near Traders Point can be found in the archives of MURA, at the University of Minnesota.
Site Selection was controversial and eventually President Johnson altered the site selection procedures and supported the Illinois site.
As a result of the disappointment in the Midwest with President Johnson’s decision not to support the MURA proposal, and of continuing disagreements between the LRL management and its Advisory Committee on the extent to which the management of the new accelerator should have a national character, both the site and management questions were reopened.
The AEC then invited all states to submit site proposals for the accelerator and a total of 125 proposals were received from all but two states. During 1965 the Atomic Energy Commission reduced the number of qualified sites to 85 and passed these on to a panel of the National Academy of Sciences chaired by Emanuel Piore. Originally the panel was to select a single site, but at the urging of the joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the panel was asked to recommend the six best sites with the final choice to be made by the Atomic Energy Commission. In March of 1966, the Piore panel announced their selection of six possible sites in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin.
A group of architectural-engineering firms that came together in 1968 under the acronym of DUSAF to assist Robert R. Wilson with the design of the laboratory site evaluated the existing properties on the site and numbered them. These site numbers are maintained at Fermilab for practical reasons and have become a part of each site’s identity. Each farm has at least one site number to identify its early location on the old DUSAF maps.”