Listen, it’s like this. Cold War enthusiasts will have a spot in their hot hearts for a place like Atomic City, not even a blip along the road halfway between Arco and Blackfoot, Idaho. Once a hub of America’s latest and greatest nuclear activity, it has since given way to the quick-cooling nature of fiery arms races.
The City has twenty-seven residents, only three or four of whom still work. The bar serves as the terminus for all things relating to the outside world, namely the post office and the long-gone gas station. Inside, the bar is a shrine to America’s booming years. Neon signs, novelty ash trays, retro toys and collectibles sit along the wood-paneled walls collecting dust until someone new is curious enough to take a closer look. The mustachioed cowboy pictured, Dwayne, in fact owns the bar and a whole block of Atomic City, the front and center dirt road adjacent to the racing track where small groups gather every summer to drive in circles, and he’s in the process of selling his land to no buyers. He’s a retired operational engineer at the nearby hidden plant, looking to rid his territorial burdens and join his lady in Blackfoot.
But I suspect no one will see turnover in Atomic City. I suspect that its twenty-seven retirees will each quietly go away and the place will live up to its pending status as a ghost town. Even now it’s more of an oddity than an actual zip code. Eventually, the only trace of its noble past will be the radiation that lingers on through the whistling wind and dust.