Thematic map protesting the transport of nuclear weapons and material across the United States

Research by Marvin Resnikoff / Design by Richard Bickhart / Printed by Faculty Press, THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX TRANSPORTATION ROUTES. New York: Radioactive Waste Campaign, 1988.
Lithographic map printed in three colors, chart printed in three colors on verso, 17 ¼”h x 22”w at sheet edge. Excellent.

A compelling 1988 persuasive map protesting the variety and volume of dangerous nuclear weapons and material being transported across the United States.

The map depicts the United States covered with lines and symbols delineating routes for “truck and rail transportation of nuclear materials among the primary nuclear weapons production facilities, laboratories, and waste sites.” The lines are color coded and numerically keyed to indicate whether the material being shipped is uranium, plutonium, tritium, waste or weapons components. A note at lower right indicates that the map omits several major categories of nuclear shipments, since “because of government secrecy, the exact path of these routes is conjectured.” Even with these limitations, the use of multiple colored lines along several routes—each line representing a different type of material—gives the somewhat misleading impression that nuclear shipments impact vast swathes of the American landscape.

The map was issued by the New York-based Radioactive Waste Campaign (RWC). A branch of the Sierra Club active in the 1980s, the RWC sought to exploit the difficulties and risks of managing nuclear waste as a way of slowing the growth of America’s civilian and military nuclear complex. The group published a newsletter (“Waste Paper”), reports and educational materials, and seems to have engaged in mobilizing grassroots protest, legal actions and lobbying. This particular poster was issued as a companion to a book titled Deadly Defense: Military Radioactive Landfills, also published by the RWC.

The format of this map closely resembles that of a series of anti-nuclear maps published in the 1970s and-80s by the War Resisters League, “the oldest secular pacifist organization in the United States” (Wikipedia). Beyond the obvious congruence of their missions the League and the RWC likely had some kind of functional and/or social connection: Their maps are stylistically very similar, and the designer of the “Transportation Routes” map offered here is also credited on at least two of those issued by the War Resisters League (See for example, this map of Arms Across America.)

OCLC 36481250 et al., giving nine holdings in American institutions (Oct. 2018). Rumsey #12354.