What do you do when the U.S. Army asks you to “go for a ride” into the desert, and won’t tell you where you are going? Gene Sundt went, and 35 miles later, northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was told Sundt had been selected to build an urgent, super-secret project that had not yet been designed.


We were given a list of the buildings to get started on, which appeared to be worth approximately $300,000. By the time Sundt finished construction just over a year later, the project had been expanded 70 times and was worth $7,112,397. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we had built the infrastructure and many of the technical buildings for Los Alamos, one of the sites where scientists were working on the Manhattan project.


Our challenges:

• Start from scratch in the mountains and snow.

• Build roads at the same time that we used them to move in great quantities of building equipment.

• Set up a camp for 3,000 men who had to be quartered and fed there for a year.

• Support a war effort by working 14- to 16-hour days and seven-day weeks to near exhaustion.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Los Alamos, New Mexico