On July 6, 1962, the Sedan Event, the largest of the Project Plowshare experiments, was conducted at the Nevada Test Site. This 100-kiloton blast produced a crater approximately 1,200-feet-in-diameter, with a depth of 320 feet into the desert floor.
The Plowshare Program was an Atomic Energy Commission effort, instituted by the Livermore Laboratory in 1957, to explore the peaceful uses and applications of controlled nuclear explosions. The program took its name from the Bible (Isaiah 2:4), "they will beat their swords into plowshares." The Sedan Event was the second in the Plowshare program, but it was the first of several experiments carried out with the purpose of developing the necessary technology for using nuclear explosives in earth-moving projects, such as the creation of harbors and canals.
The potential to use nuclear explosions for excavation purposes had been explored since the late 1950s. It was estimated that constructing a canal via such means could yield significant cost and time savings. However, while 27 nuclear tests were conducted in the Plowshare program between 1957 and 1973 to develop such technology, environmental concerns, as well as opposition to nuclear energy and nuclear devices, led to the demise of the program in the mid-'70s.
In 1994, the Sedan Crater was entered into the National Register of Historic places. The crater now attracts thousands of visitors each year.