I’m biking east along Interstate 80 and today I crossed the Mississippi river. This feels like a major milestone to me. Good bye, Iowa, hello, Illinois!
Right next to where I’m crossing the river is Rock Island, which is said to be the largest arsenal and the only Army foundry in the US. I haven’t thought about this, but my perception is that nowadays most weapons systems are manufactured by companies, so it was a pleasant surprise that the US Army still possesses an arsenal.
What got my attention was the outdoor display of M65 atomic cannon. This is an artillery designed to fire an atomic bomb, and the yield of a single shot is the same as the one dropped on Hiroshima (15kt TNT).
Wikipedia has the photo of its one and only firing test in Nevada and the picture is terrifying.
I understand that in the early days of the atomic age, for a while atomic bombs were seen as “just a bigger bomb” and therefore all sorts of tactical use were considered and some were actually developed into a functioning weapons system like this one.
Growing up in Japan, I’ve taken for granted that there’s a clear line between nuclear weapons and conventional weapons, but seeing something like this does challenge that assumption. Still, I’m glad I’m living in the era where nuclear weapons aren’t used tactically.
Back to my trip. Illinois section of I-80 is a relatively short 266km. Weather is perfect now for biking, so I should be able to cover this pretty quickly.