This 2.5’ by 3.5’ poster, “The Plutonium Chemist’s Periodic Table,” is printed on ½” cardboard and was created during Dow Chemical’s contract with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to run the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Production facility north of Golden Colorado. The content was compiled by J.M. Cleveland, an employee of the U.S. Atomic Commission, and the unique artwork was done by T.G. Gray.
Rocky Flats, once one of Colorado’s largest industrial sites, made the state an important player within the U.S. Cold War effort but not without a cost. Employing roughly 40,000 workers over the years, many of those employees as well as nearby residents suffered and continue to experience severe health issues linked to the plutonium and other hazardous chemicals that were present there. The bucolic fields of green that have taken the place of the plant belie this history so such a poster, as well as related records, that remain behind are important in documenting this dark chapter in Colorado history.
The Rocky Flats plant was an integral part of American involvement in the Cold War as it was the primary facility constructing the plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads, plutonium being the very element detailed on this poster. The shutdown of the facility as a result of an EPA and FBI investigation in the Department of Energy’s activities on the site looms large in the history of American nuclear weapons manufacture and the subsequent razing of the facility means that very few records such as this poster yet exist in Colorado.
National Archives at Denver
17101 Huron St
Broomfield, CO 80023