About Me


Photo © Randall Walter

Photo © Randall Walter

First of all, please read the site’s intro pages: Backstory and About This Site, because this site is really about the Westinghouse atom smasher (not about me!). That said, here is some info about why I started this. I grew up in the “avenues” of Forest Hills, PA, within a half-mile of the atom smasher. Many of our family, friends, and neighbors had ties to Westinghouse. Now I’m an archaeologist, doing mainly historical and cultural resource management (CRM) work. I love digging through archives and helping to bring our heritage into the present. Some of my favorite research areas include archaeology in New England and Pennsylvania, UNESCO World Heritage, atomic archaeology, and of course the Westinghouse legacy in Forest Hills and beyond. I’ve been enjoying reading and writing about the Westinghouse atom smasher and related subjects so much that starting this website seemed like a logical next step.

I’m a graduate of Woodland Hills High School, Carnegie Mellon University (B.A. professional writing), and Boston University (Ph.D., archaeology and heritage management).

Since 2017, I’m also an editor for the Society for Industrial Archeology. This is a great organization that is not just “archaeology” but involves all types of history of industry, engineering, labor, technology, etc. The conferences and tours often include special behind-the-scenes visits for members—fun stuff! Check it out at www.sia-web.org.

If you’re wondering what CRM is: I like to think of it as where archaeology and history meet (and often clash) with the modern world. In CRM archaeology, occasionally when a site or historic structure is going to be damaged or destroyed by a construction project, we get the chance to first go in and gather up—“salvage” or “rescue”—as much information about the place as possible before the bulldozers move in. The idea is to reduce the loss of the history through scientific excavation and/or systematic study of historical documents.

So when I first heard in 2013 that a developer had purchased the Westinghouse Forest Hills property, my impulse was to head to the archives, and start searching for, reading, and gathering everything I could find about the atom smasher and the Westinghouse Research Laboratories. With the atom smasher now knocked into a vulnerable position with a very uncertain future, I believe it is more important than ever to document its history and share it with as many people as possible. I hope this site will help to do that.

–Marni Blake Walter

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