| December 1957|
The first large-scale nuclear powerplant in the world began operating in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1957--exactly 15 years after Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first sustained nuclear reaction. In September 1954, President Eisenhower had waved a "magic wand" in a Denver television station to start the bulldozer at the Shippingport site. Symbolizing the peaceful use of the atom, the "magic wand" transmitted a neutron-powered electrical signal across the country to start the remote-controlled bulldozer. At no cost to the government, the Duquesne Light Company of Pittsburgh built and operated the Shippingport plant on a site it owned on the Ohio River. The company also contributed to the cost of developing the government-owned reactor. Three years later, the Shippingport plant began supplying electricity to the Pittsburgh area.