“Atomic Annie” has seen better days, but work is underway to give her new life.
This past week, National Guard soldiers finished making a concrete pad around the M65 atomic cannon, which sits on top of the hill at Freedom Park off I-70 exit 301. Atomic Annie has sat at that location overlooking Fort Riley since May 1975 after the Smithsonian Institute loaned it out.
Its visibility at the top of the hill can be seen by travelers along I-70.
“That’s a tourist attraction,” Stimatze said. “Visitors from all over will stop and go up the hill.”
Stimatze said the area is currently closed as officials work through the renovations. She said officials hope to reopen the spot in late fall.
In the meantime, the Convention and Visitors Bureau are reaching out to organizations to see who wants to help with the efforts to revive the area around Atomic Annie.
This includes new signage, removing some shrubs, repainting picnic tables, cleaning up the trail and repainting the cannon.
“The clean up part we really have to get done,” Stimatze said.
The Atomic Annie cannon came from an uneasy era in U.S. history. Developed during the Cold War, a crew fired the first atomic shell from the 42-feet-long, 42,500-pound cannon in May 1953.
However, the military never used those cannons beyond testing as better options became available.
They were decommissioned in 1963, and manufacturers only created 20 M65 atomic cannons, or Atomic Annies.
If anyone is interested in helping with cleanup, Stimatze said you can contact her at 785-238-2885 or email@example.com.