Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf


This thesis examines the role of the people of West Virginia in bringing the NRAO to Green Bank, West Virginia. It explores the impact of the space race, big science and the Cold War on a small rural community nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s. There has been very little scholarship done on how local residents and state politicians helped to shape big science. The thesis opens with a brief history of early radio astronomy starting with the work of Karl Jansky and Grote Reber. It discusses the influence of HAM radio on radio astronomy. It also briefly details the arguments between NRAO founders Lloyd Berkner and Merle Tuve about the direction of the NRAO. In addition, it examines U.S. Senator Harley Kilgore's (D-WV) role in the development of the National Science Foundation.;It focuses on the contributions of West Virginia Governor William Marland towards establishing the West Virginia Radio Quiet Zone, which later lead to the National Radio Quiet Zone. This was a unique piece of legislation. This is the only radio quiet zone in the country, not to mention the first in the world. U.S. Representative Harley Staggers (D-WV) played the largest role of any politician in bringing the NRAO to Green Bank. Considerable attention is given to Pocahontas Times editor, Cal Price in convincing the local citizenry to accept the limitations of living in the National Radio Quiet Zone. It also describes the reactions of the local residents to, and the continuing impact of, the NRAO on Green Bank and Pocahontas County, West Virginia.