Mining History

The following excerpts were taken from an article by Elizabeth Pope which appeared in McCalls Magazine in December, 1956. It is a reflection of the times, the town, and its people during the 1950s boom.

Article Excerpts

The red buttes and mesas around Moab produce 95% of the uranium ore. Uranium, in its purest state, is worth 35 times as much as gold. Four years ago (1952) Moab was a sleepy farming village 35 miles from a railroad and 135 miles from a recognized airport. Today (1956) Moab is the uranium capitol of the world

The story begins 1 July day in 1953, when a wildly screaming prospector came running across the desert up the yard of his trailer home. His wife heard him yelling and came to the door in time to see him charge her clothes line and stand there shrieking her name, not bothering to pick up the ruined wash. At first the women was angry, then she was scared. Her husband was a quiet man. Maybe after all those months the desert sun and the constant disappointments had been to much for him.

The man's name was Charlie Steen, a geologist from Texas, who for 2 heartbreaking years had been searching the Moab desert for the massive deposits of uranium ore he was sure were there. The strike he had just made, which cost his wife a weeks wash, is now valued at upwards of $100 million and has become 1 of the richest mines on the continent.

Steen's strike had come just in time. That morning his borrowed drill had broken down, and Steen with his equipment worn out, money gone, credit exhausted, family in rags, had decided to give up the struggle. But because he was a stubborn man, he had borrowed a Geiger counter to test the core from his last drilling. At a depth of 173 feet, the Geiger counter went mad. Charlie Steen was a Millionaire

In the 3 years since his strike, Moab has become a city of Millionaires. At it's brand new Uranium Club, housed in a hideous concrete fortress on the edge of town, members can name at least 20 other lucky townspeople who are worth a million or are within easy reach of it.