By Dawn’s Early Light – April 18, 1953

Photo from the Herald Examiner

Fifty five years ago today, the pre-dawn eastern sky was lit up as the glow from an A Bomb test in Arizona reached all the way Los Angeles. I wonder if it was creepier in 1957 than the idea of it is today in a post-9/11 world.

From the Herald Examiner archives at the Los Angeles Public Library:

An A-bomb blast set off in Nevada at 4:36 a.m., on April 18, 1953, was judged by early risers to have been the most sensational of any seen so far. The blast made the eastern horizon as “bright as day.”

Note: While researching this incident, I discovered that this very same blog already posted about this incident and photos in 2006.


On our initial post about these photos, Kate Coe commented: “the man pointing is reporter Jack Smith of the Herald. Yes, that Jack Smith.”

4 Replies to “By Dawn’s Early Light – April 18, 1953”

  1. “Clearly faked”? They’re pretty clearly fairly long-duration time exposures, but what makes you say they’re faked?

    David, why does the first sentence of the post refer to “an A Bomb test in Arizona”? As far as I know, all these tests took place in Nevada, not Arizona.

  2. Yes, Beth, please do tell how the above photographs are “clearly faked.” While the aperture is clearly wide open, and the depth of field in that first high-contrast shot renders the man in the foreground with some ghosting, I am rather confident that those photographs are clearly not faked. Too, the direction from which the radiation comes is clearly from the northeast; the orientation of City Hall and the mountains clearly indicate so.

    Nevertheless, I welcome the evidence that supports your argument.

    In the meantime, I invite folk to have a gander at “100 SUNS: 1945-1962,” a relatively recent title (an elephant edition, to better appreciate the magnitude of the original shots) that conveys in an impressive package the truly awesome power of the first two decades of american nuclear testing detonations. The title alone clearly illustrates the power of the explosions that took place not so far away.

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