Fermilab History and Archives Project

Transfer of Site from Illinois to the US Atomic Energy Commission

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April 10, 1969 was truly a landmark day in development of the National Accelerator Laboratory.

On that day, at a luncheon at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago, Governor Richard B. Ogilvie turned over ownership of the 6,800-acre site in DuPage and Kane counties for NAL to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Seaborg, Ramey Speak

Glenn T. Seaborg, chairman of the U.S.A.E.C. and a Nobel laureate in chemistry, accepted the title to the land at the luncheon, which was described as the beginning of "A New Era for Illinois."

Said Dr. Seaborg: "I am sure that you will find that the Laboratory will be a most worthy institution to have located here so close to Chicago, a city in which so much significant nuclear history has already been made."

James T. Ramey, an AEC commissioner, also spoke at the site-conveyance ceremony. He said, in part:

"..the importance of this new Laboratory is not limited to science alone. Both the Atomic Energy Commission and the management of the Laboratory are dedicated to the objective that the construction and operation of the accelerator shall go hand in hand with the advancement of human rights."

Master of ceremonies at the luncheon was Ray C, Dickerson, director, Illinois Department of Business and Economic Development.. The invocation was de livered by Hudson T. Armerding, president, Wheaton College, who also had served as chairman of the site acquisition committee.

Host for the luncheon was Donald M. Graham, chairman of Mayor Daley's Committee for the Economic and Cultural Development of Chicago and chairman of the board, Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company, Chicago.

Wilson Proposes University

Robert R. Wilson, director of NAL, spoke briefly about the inter-relationships of ''particles, accelerators and society" and proposed that the state give serious consideration to the eventual location of a major university in the area contiguous to the Laboratory site.

In his speech, Governor Ogilvie described the event as the beginning of a new era of scientific and technological eminence for the State of Illinois. The governor presented a bronze plaque signifying the transfer to Dr. Seaborg. The inscription on the plaque reads, in part:

"The people of Illinois proudly present their fertile acres and accomplished talent to the nation for the development of a major laboratory devoted to the peaceful exploration of nature by particle physicists."

The plaque further declares that the new laboratory will be a "significant cathedral for research and learning and an international house for distinguished scholars."

Spent $25,500,000

The state of Illinois spent $25,500,000 to acquire the 10.63 square-mile site for the Laboratory, which had been sought in a nationwide competition by 46 states. Acquisitions of the site, which included the former village of Weston, where the NAL Village now is situated, was completed on March 27,1969 In addition to the price of the land, the $25,500,000 figure included expenses for appraisals, negotiations and various site preparation details.

"Transmittal of the property to the Atomic Energy Commission brings to fruition the hard work, sacrifices and contributions of many dedicated Illinoisans," said Governor Ogilvie. "Also, it allows construction of the accelerator laboratory to proceed on schedule,' and this will yield significant benefits for the economy of Illinois."

Among others who attended the luncheon were: Congressman Melvin H. Price of East St. Louis, Illinois, a senior member of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy; Congressman John N. Erlenborn of Elmhurst whose 14th district included the DuPage county portion of the laboratory site; former Illinois governors Otto Kerner and Samuel Shapiro, and Congressman Abner Mikva of Chicago's Hyde Park district.

Also at the speaker's table were Kenneth H. Dunbar, manager, Chicago operations office of the Atomic Energy Commission, and Gene Graves, former director of the Illinois Department of Business and Economic Development and now assistant to the president of Southern Illinois University.

NAL Progress Report

Meantime, as usual, there was a considerable amount of design and construction activity at the Laboratory during the month of March and early April. At the Laboratory's eventual "core" area near the northwestern boundaries of the site, not far from the City of Batavia, work began on the Booster enclosure excavations.

Construction of the Linac building, which began last December I with a formal groundbreaking, was moving ahead with the walls of the pre-accelerator house and the floor and parts of the walls of the lime-cavity enclosure virtually completed. And, work on the rough-roads contract was extended across Feldott Road toward Batavia Road.

Work on the Main Ring Prototype Enclosure's structure was nearly complete. One part of the Prototype is of concrete and another section is of corrugated steel. The Prototype is being built in the NAL Village beside the inflatable building.

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 1 No. 2, April, 1969

APRIL 10, 1969 - ILLINOIS GIVES AEC TITLE for NAL's 6,800 Acres

Gov. Richard B. OgilvieFollowing are the remarks of Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie, of Illinois, at the site conveyance ceremony:

This is an auspicious occasion. We have reached the end of the first step in a bold scientific journey. We are bound for a destination which is still out of sight over the horizon of time and undiscovered nuclear knowledge.

As a relative newcomer to this exciting adventure, I am delighted to share this happy occasion with those of you who have done so much to make it possible.

Many people have brought us this far on our journey. Four years ago this month the United States Atomic Energy Commission announced its plan to embark on this` project. Since that time it has involved the dedication and labor of hundreds of political, business, scientific and civic leaders, many of whom are here today.

Governor Kerner and Director Graves developed and cleared the way for the proposal which led to the ultimate selection of the site in DuPage and Kane Counties.

Mayor Daley's committee on economic and cultural development, along with several Illinois-based organizations and businesses, joined in undertaking the study which augmented the case for Illinois.

Interest Widespread

Public officials from communities in the area surrounding the site gave their enthusiastic endorsement to the plan and offered complete cooperation. Members of Congress, especially John Erlenborn, John Anderson and Melvin Price, helped smooth the way in Washington. Leading educators and businessmen by the dozen offered their support and assistance at every step of the way.

Dr. Seaborg and his colleagues on the Atomic Energy Commission have provided firm guidance and friendly cooperation from othe inception of the project.

"Community Venture"

In every sense, this has been a community venture. It has enjoyed the best efforts of political leaders from the Mayor of Chicago to the Mayor of tiny Weston, business leaders from the presidents of Chicago's largest banks to the owners of neighborhood grocery stores in nearby Batavia. I salute them all for a job well done.

But to that commendation I must add a word of caution. The job has just begun. It is not for publicity reasons that we have called the occasion for our gathering here today "A New Era for Illinois."

New Chapter in History

This is a beginning. What we celebrate today is not the end of Illinois' participation in this historic project. The past is mere prologue to an exciting new chapter in the history of our state.

The basic elements of this new era have become familiar to most of us over the course of the past four years. The $250 million facility will employ 2,000 of the nation's leading physicists and engineers, and attract thousands of additional jobs and add significantly to the economic climate of the entire area.

But the impact on our social and intellectual growth and on Illinois' role in the nation's economy will far surpass the benefits likely to accrue to the communities in the area surrounding the accelerator.

Illinois' Industrial Fame

Illinois' skills as a producer of goods and an industrial giant are well known and amply documented. We lead all 50 states, for example, as an exporter of both agricultural and manufactured products totaling 2.5 billion dollars a year.

Illinois ranks third in the nation in total manufacturing, first in the production of machinery, and second in printing and publishing. We are the third largest producer of livestock and a major mineral producer, ranking fourth in production of coal and eighth in petroleum.

But the day is past when we can rely entirely on our "Big Shoulders," to use Carl Sandburg's famous lines, and on our fame as "Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler."

Challenge of History

History passes by those who fail to adapt to the complexities of the technological age.

Change is all about us, and at times, it seems that change is the only certainty we have. As I said in my inaugural address last January, "The challenge of change is to harness it to bring man into harmony and balance with himself and his world."

Nowhere is that challenge more demanding than in the science of nuclear energy, where the boundaries of our knowledge are expanding at an almost geometric rate.

First Reaction Recalled

Illinois has long been in the forefront of those expanding horizons. It was at Stagg Field on the University of Chicago Campus that the nuclear age was born in 1942 with the first self-sustaining, continuous nuclear reaction. The first and still the largest nuclear power plant for commercial use is operated by Commonwealth Edison Company near Morris, a few miles southwest of Chicago.

And now, the construction of this 200 billion electron volt accelerator is a reaffirmation of that tradition and the confirmation of a little-noticed development in this state's changing economy strength.

The development is making Illinois the research capital of the nation. The launching of this bold project to probe deeper into the infinite reaches of the atom is the capstone of a development which has guaranteed a new era of sustained economic progress.

Already, the Chicago area leads the nation in attracting new research and development facilities. A recent count showed 456 Research Laboratories in the metropolitan area, employing more than 18,000 persons. Many of them, including those of Bell Laboratories, American Oil Company, Quaker Oats, International Harvester and Chemplex, as well as the world-renowned Argonne National Laboratory, are locating in the suburban areas ringing Chicago, holding out the promise of unprecedented industrial growth for an area which heretofore has been almost entirely residential.

Academically, Illinois also has established an enviable reputation. A 1967 survey showed the University of Illinois leads the nation in granting doctoral degrees, and one of every six new PhD's receives all or part of his educational training in the state.

Role of Business

The significance of this leadership is not lost on those businessmen involved in research and development. Our extensive educational system is furnishing them a steady supply of well-trained talent to staff the facilities they are locating here. But it is a fact which is often overlooked because of the severity with which the so-called "Brain Drain" affects the entire midwest.

Midwestern universities produce some 40 per cent of the nation's doctorate degrees, yet only 25 per cent of them stay to work in the part of the country where they receive their education Every time one of them moves to New York or California, it has been estimated, the taxpayers lose $50,000 invested in education. If we are to reverse this exodus of valuable brainpower, we must develop the kinds of facilities which will keep trained men here. I believe we are making significant strides toward that end.

Center for Scholars

University-related research facilities here attract scholars from all over the world. Among these are the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, the Enrico Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago, the Midwest Electronics Research Center and Biomedical Engineering Research Center, both at Northwestern University.

Together with government institutions and private laboratories, these facilities are blending efforts in the areas of pure science, applied technology and manufacturing research into an effective force for the advancement of industry and society. They provide a vast interdisciplinary pool of knowledge on which Illinois industry, both present and prospective, can draw for decades to come.

Impact Brings Responsibilities

The impact of science in the past two decades has imposed heavy new responsibilities on all levels of government. Nowhere has that impact been felt more profoundly than in our state capitals. The drastically-altered relationship between industry and all types of research, both private and federally-financed, has accentuated the role of state government as an economic promoter and coordinator.

One aspect of that role has been demonstrated here in Illinois by the successful efforts of various state officials and agencies in establishing the merits of the site which we are formally conferring to the Atomic Energy Commission today. In addition, the state, primarily under the auspices of the department of business and economic development, has developed a sophisticated program for telling business firms the advantages of locating in Illinois.

State to Continue Efforts

But much remains to be done. And I am here to assure you that this state administration will make every effort to guarantee Illinois' continued leadership in the development of our research capabilities. At this still germinal stage of development, the priorities we establish will chart our course for a generation to come.

In the state budget which I presented to the Illinois general assembly last week, I set forth the priorities which will guide this administration and point the direction of state participation in the foreseeable future.

Higher Learning Priority

I believe it is evident, both in the text and in the figures contained in that document, that we place a high priority on improving the level and the services of our institutions of higher learning. The budget anticipates an increase of $170 million in. this category.

Especially relevant to our concern here today, it seems to me, is the proposed appropriation of $65.7 million, an increase of more than 50 per cent, for the state's junior college system., which now services 87 per cent of the citizens of Illinois. In our continuing effort to improve our vast educational system, we must take special care to assure that it is serving the needs of our increasingly technological society.

2-Year Training Programs

In this light, I have urged strengthening of two-year terminal programs tailored to the student who needs job-oriented studies beyond high school and beyond the industrial arts programs of an earlier era, It will be fruitless to continue turning out highly-trained technicians with doctoral degrees unless a parallel educational system is developing pare-professionals with the more limited technical skills necessary to provide a comprehensive support capability.

Along these lines, I believe it is also significant that the budget seeks nearly X70 million, an increase of more than $21 million, for vocational education and rehabilitation.

State-Federal Aid

In yet another sense, this marks the advent of a new era for Illinois. The close cooperation between the state and federal governments which has made this event possible is a reassuring example of the type of viable federalism which often has been lacking.

The donation of these 151 separate parcels of land to the Atomic Energy Commission represents more than a carrot offered by the citizens of Illinois in return for the reward of an installation that has been called the scientific prize of the century. Indeed, it represents an assumption of state responsibility to share in a partnership for expanding the horizons of scientific knowledge and promoting the economic health of its communities.

Successful Change

And, as I indicated earlier, that responsibility has only begun. As Dr. Seaborg and Dr. 'Wilson and their colleagues begin the long task of developing the facility which holds so much promise for Illinois, it will require the best efforts of all of us -- elected officials, businessmen, educators and civic leaders to assure its successful completion and operation.

Illinois is meeting the challenge of change. Perhaps no fact better illustrates that assertion than the conversion of 6,800 acres of our fertile land from the most basic of man's endeavors -- the production of life-sustaining food -- to the most advanced -- unlocking the infinite secrets of the Atom.

But, if change is to be shaped to help us, we must continue attracting and developing the intellectual resources and scientific facilities that change demands.

I am confident that the noble adventure on which we embark today will provide the catalyst for that endeavor.

Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg:

Dr. Glenn T. SeaborgOn behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission, I am pleased and honored to accept this plaque symbolizing the transfer of title to the United States Government of the site for the National Accelerator Laboratory.

This symbolic act marks the end of one great effort on the part of the State of Illinois. When the Atomic Energy Commission in April 1965 announced its willingness to consider proposals for sites throughout the United States for the 200 BeV Accelerator, the State of Illinois joined the competition. Ultimately, the AEC received 125 proposals concerning more than 200 possible site locations in 46 different states. For the State this vigorous competition can only mean that the site which the State offered to provide for the facility has superior characteristics and to part with it does represent a sacrifice as the wording on the plaque states.

New Beginnings

However, as it is correct to say that today's ceremony marks the symbolic completion of the State's commitment to provide the site, it is equally correct to say that it marks the beginning of the benefits to the local community, the State of Illinois, the Midwest and the entire Nation that the construction and operation of this large and important scientific facility will bring. I am sure you will find that the Laboratory will be a most worthy institution to have located here so close to Chicago, a city in which so much significant nuclear history has already been made.

In considering the ambivalent posture in which the State now finds itself - being conscious of the loss of these 6,800 acres of good Illinois land, and looking forward to the benefits to flow from this new laboratory - I am reminded of the mother of the bride and the traditional advice which she is always given, Illinois hasn't really lost a site, it has gained a 200 BeV Accelerator'

Cooperation Brings Success

The Atomic Energy Commission, as the Government sponsor of the National Accelerator Laboratory, looks forward to continuing fine cooperative relations with the State and local officials of Illinois in helping to make the National Accelerator Laboratory the outstanding success that we are sure it will be. Thank you.

James T. Ramey:

James T. RameyLast December, when I had the privilege of participating in the ground-breaking ceremonies for the National Accelerator Laboratory, I commented on the "I've - been - here - before - feeling" that I then experienced. Some twenty years ago, when I was Counsel for the Atomic Energy Commission's Chicago Office, I worked closely with the then Federal District Attorney Otto Kerner and Congressman Mel Price in obtaining the site for the AEC's Argonne National Laboratory.

It is a great pleasure for me to be here again today, both as a Commissioner and as a legal resident of Illinois, to participate in this ceremony.

I think that we are all conscious of the great scientific importance which the Nation and the world attaches to the accelerator that is under construction on the site which today the State of Illinois is conveying to the Federal Government. It will be one of our most important scientific instruments for many years to come.

TAT Program Applauded

However, the importance of this new Laboratory is not limited to science alone. Both the Atomic Energy Commission and the management of the Laboratory are dedicated to the objective that the construction and operation of the accelerator shall go hand-in-hand with the advancement of human rights.

The Commission applauds the imaginative equal employment opportunity programs of the Laboratory, its contractors, and cooperating unions. As an example, recently 22 young men from the inner City of Chicago were employed by the Laboratory for skilled jobs which they will fill after completing their training at the Training and Techno logy Program at Oak Ridge, Tennessee: These 22 men are involved in an experimental program to determine the feasibility of training under-employed or unemployed, disadvantaged youth away from their home surroundings. Today, at the Laboratory site, many young minority men and women are gainfully employed in the planning and construction of the accelerator and their numbers will grow as does the overall laboratory organization.

A Complex Program

I must also note that the overall job of getting the accelerator constructed and operating is far from accomplished. The technical complexity of designing and building such an accelerator continues to be immense; the fast-paced construction schedule will require that substantial funds be appropriated beginning in July of this year; the project has yet to be fully authorized by the Congress; and meaningful jobs, adequate housing and educational opportunities must be provided for minority groups. All of these things must be done if this project is to fulfill the promise it has demonstrated thus far.

In closing, I extend my congratulations to the State of Illinois for its farsighted efforts in successfully competing for the accelerator project and for its completion of site acquisition which we commemorate today. And I wish to commend the Universities Research Association and Bob Wilson and his staff for the auspicious beginnings of the National Accelerator Laboratory. I am sure that with this leadership and if we continue to have the closest kind of Federal, State and local cooperation these challenges can - and will be met and the Laboratory will be the great success we all so much desire. Thank you.


Mayor Richard J. Daley:

The following remarks were prepared for Mayor Richard J. Daley, of Chicago, for the April 10 luncheon. They were read, in the mayor's absence, by Raymond F. Simon, corporation counsel of the city of Chicago:

It is altogether appropriate that this luncheon has the theme "A New Era for Illinois." It occurs to me that we're talking not only about a new scientific establishment in our state but we are talking of a new viewpoint.

Chicago is part of a metropolitan area. What Chicago does affects those in the metropolitan area and the reverse is also true. What happens outside the city can affect Chicago.

Early Site Study

The Mayor's committee on economic and cultural development is entitled to feel some pride in the development at Weston. It was an early study conducted and paid for by the Mayor's committee which led finally to the selection of a site at Weston. We are happy that Illinois was selected among the states for this atomic accelerator laboratory and of course take pride that the installation will be as close as it is to Chicago.

The accelerator is important for a variety of reasons. First of all, and primarily, it will increase our fund of scientific and technical knowledge. What is learned at Weston will be of benefit to everyone since knowledge knows no geographical limits.

Economic Growth

Jobs will be created at Weston which are of value by themselves but have the additional benefit of generating economic growth in the area which will respond to the need for increased services by those employed in the area. The scientific establishment will attract scientists from the country and probably the entire world and so enrich our area.

We anticipate that these scientists and technical workers will avail themselves of the resources in the Chicago area. We have research firms and foundations in Chicago as well as the resources of outstanding universities, research laboratories and skills which will be in demand for the new scientific community.

The people who come to operate the accelerator and to manage the laboratory will find their horizons are not limited to Weston alone. In the manner of - inquisitive seekers after knowledge they will reach out to the surrounding areas and we are confident that their searching will be rewarded in Chicago.

Similarly the scientific and scholastic communities in Chicago will be looking to Weston.

And there will be shared experiences and knowledge.

Cooperation Widespread

The program today offers an example to us of the new way of viewing the world that I spoke of a few moments ago. We have with us representatives from the city, state, and federal governments, from the world of science and the world of business. Working together they are creating the wonders of the world of the future.

A great idea may spring from the mind of a single individual but to transform that great idea into reality takes the unstinting effort of many people, of many different areas of human concern. This certainly is true of Weston.

Speaking for the Mayor and the city, we in Chicago are proud of our contribution to the realization of the atomic accelerator laboratory. We know it will reap benefits for the area in which it is located, for the state of Illinois, for the city of Chicago, for the metropolitan area, and finally for all the citizens in this large area and indeed for all the citizens of the country.

Thank you.

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 1 No. 2, April, 1969



A NEW ERA FOR ILLINOIS - Title of Plaque passed by Gov. Ogilvie to AEC Chairman Seaborg at luncheon.
A NEW ERA FOR ILLINOIS - Title of Plaque passed by Gov. Ogilvie to AEC Chairman Seaborg at luncheon.

The following is the text of the "New Era for Illinois" plaque presented by Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie to Glenn T. Seaborg, chairman, U. F. Atomic Energy Commission, at the April 10, 1969, site conveyance luncheon:


The people of Illinois proudly present their fertile acres and accomplished talent to the nation for the development of a major laboratory devoted to the peaceful exploration of nature by particle physicists.

Today, April 10, 1969, launches A New Era for Illinois. It marks the birthdate of a period that will encourage the continuing growth of both private and public research centers and industries engaged in modern technology and scientific investigation. This gift of the good land of Illinois to the high energy physics community is symbolic of Illinois' sincere interest in the revelation and communication of new and vital knowledge for all mankind.

The National Accelerator Laboratory will be a significant cathedral for research and learning and an international house for scholars. It promises a firm foundation on which the future of Illinois, and of mankind, can be anchored in an academic as well as economic sense.

Illinois is thankful for this opportunity to serve society. It pledges to be a considerate and thoughtful host to the Laboratory's staff and visitors.

It was with sacrifice to many persons and through cooperative efforts of community and county leaders, state and national authorities, and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels that these 6,800 acres of our most productive land were made available.

It was in Illinois that the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was achieved which ushered in the atomic age and helped secure for the people of the world the benefits of the progress in science and technology. And now a New Era for Illinois begins, offering new challenges for the nation as well as for the state. We are pleased and proud to join in this venture with the United States Atomic Energy Commission.

Richard B. Ogilvie

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 1 No. 2, April, 1969

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