January 4, 2012

The Uranium Rush is On!

uranium prospector atlas tires 1953
Photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

Let's do a little prospecting! After decades of being considered as a waste product of vanadium mining, worthy of nothing more than a tossing in the scrap piles, Uranium ore suddenly came into demand as a key element for nuclear weaponry. 

Photo: courtesy of gair_dunlop

In 1949, the rush was on. The U.S. Government launched the first federally-sponsored mineral rush in history. The Colorado Plateau, more specifically the Four Corners area (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet), was swarmed by prospectors in the greatest ore search since the gold fever days of the wild west.

All prepackaged and ready to go. Here's a vintage do-it-yourself prospecting kit - not for finding little trinkets of gold but for highly valuable Uranium ore! Ideally, you'd probably want a little more than this novelty kit has to offer. But hands down, a reliable Geiger counter or radiation detector was an absolute must. Anything else you could use was already available for cheap as war surplus.

In 1949 the boom was roaring! Any one able-bodied enough and daring enough to head out west with a Geiger counter in hand and dreams of riches in their head was prospecting for atomic age riches. See blog.Modern.Mechanix.com for oodles more articles of the Great Uranium Boom.

And what of all this uranium ore? What did it have to do with the threat of of atomic fallout on Mr. Everyman and Mrs. Everywoman? The unquenchable hunger for uranium ore was for the sole purpose of producing nuclear warheads, which were aimed right between the eyes of those who were also aiming their atomic arsenals at us. Without getting into the politics of it all, quite simply and against all the odds, the mad stalemate obviously stood.

So, its been a long day's work of sweating under the desert sun and getting rich from your haul of ore. Who wouldn't want to settle down after the night's dinner, relax by the glow of your cook stove and enjoy a lively round of the "Uranium Rush" board game? Maybe you could give your pack-mule companion a head start just to make things fair.

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