Tai Stith with the former U.S. Bureau of Mines (now NETL-Albany) in the background.
If you would’ve told me that in some point in my life I’d be attempting to write a history book that includes details about zirconium, hafnium, and a nuclear sub, this is the look I would’ve given you. And then I would’ve asked you what zirconium is.
I attended Oregon State University and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fine Art/Graphic Design. That same year I began Rocketship Graphic Design with my husband Derek Stith. We purchased our first home in Albany’s southwest corner—in the Hazelwood district, to be exact‚ and the location proved to be especially perfect for long walks in the neighborhood. My black lab Sadie would accompany me, as would my kiddo(s) in a stroller, and our favorite route was a 1.75 mile loop around a rather unusual collection of buildings.
What were those buildings? Some were classically collegiate. Some were clearly World War II era. The whole place seemed cozily cobbled together, packaged neatly together by a chain-link fence that ran around the entire perimeter.
And when I’d ask neighbors about the place, there were mentions of rumors and mysteries and unknown projects. I could never get a truly clear answer of its purpose or history. So that’s why I started digging into what really happened there, and why we should all be thankful for its history.