History of INL: Gallery

“The further back you look, the further forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill

Preserving Our History

Employees of Idaho National Laboratory today understand the debt we owe those who came before us. The work we do in support of our clean energy and national security missions is built upon the research and development foundation established by our predecessors over seven decades of achievement. 

Below, you’ll find a gallery of historic photos and videos that highlight many notable moments, world-class facilities, research achievements and the people who made them all possible over 75 years of science and engineering excellence.


Nuclear Pioneers: EBR-I

Race for Atomic Power

70th Anniversary Highlights

Advanced Test Reactor
When the Atomic Energy Commission and the Navy requested a new test reactor with less neutron flux variation, the result was the Advanced Test Reactor. It first reached criticality on July 2, 1967, and reached its full 250-megawatt power level in August 1969, becoming the largest test reactor in the world.
Badges of the past
Early film badges like this one measured personal radiation dose levels, allowing health physicists to determine and record the types and amounts of radiation each employee had been exposed to in a day, a week, a quarter or a year, to make sure they stayed well under the safe limits.
Large Ship Reactors
As nuclear technology evolved, the U.S. Navy adapted nuclear power to surface vessels. To support this effort, Westinghouse constructed the first nuclear-powered surface ship prototype, A1W, which consisted of two pressurized water reactors powering a single engine room. The prototype also provided realistic training for reactor operators in an environment nearly identical to what they would encounter within the actual carrier. As the program evolved, new reactor cores and equipment replaced many of the original components. Naval personnel continued to train at the A1W plant until the mid-1990s.
Naval Ordnance Test Facility
From 1968 to 1970, during the Vietnam War, the Navy test-fired sixteen-inch guns from the battleship USS New Jersey. The firing point, named the Naval Ordnance Test Facility, was south of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I complex, and the target was the northern flank of Big Southern Butte. Sixteen-inch guns were the only World War II-era naval weapons used during the Vietnam War.
Remote Analytical Facility
Samples were drawn from all stages of the uranium recovery process and sent to the Remote Analytical Facility at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Complex, formerly known as the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant. Here, technicians and scientists examined the hot samples to help determine the effectiveness of the process and ways to improve it.
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Buses Over the Years

Since the earliest days of the National Reactor Testing Station, INL’s fleet of motor coaches have safely transported employees to their work locations across the laboratory’s 890 square-mile site. Converting INL’s motor coach fleet to electric or hydrogen power is part of the laboratory’s plan to eliminate or offset the sum of its carbon emissions by 2031.

Idaho National Laboratory