Here is more information on Project Plowshare, which detonated 31 nuclear devices between 1957 and 1977. The lesser-known Soviet Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy project was much larger and protracted, with a total of 156 nuclear tests between 1965 and 1989, including six operational detonations to attempt to put out gas well fires and a methane blow-out.
Here is a vintage 1968 document, “Plowshare” [PDF] from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission on the rationale, physics, engineering, and initial results of the project.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.