• Aerial view of the SM-1 facility on a bluff overlooking Gunston Cove on the Potomac River approximately 20 miles from Washington, D.C., circa 1960s.

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Nuclear Energy

Hidden in the woods at the southwestern edge of the Army post at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, overlooking an inlet of the Potomac River, sits the shell of the first nuclear reactor in the United States to be connected to a public utility grid. Access to Stationary Medium Power Plant 1, more commonly known by its Army designation SM-1, is restricted to technicians who enter the facility to monitor radiation levels. Consequently, the power station is largely overlooked by base personnel and is virtually unknown to the general public, despite being the first Department of Defense nuclear generating station devoted exclusively to peacetime use.