Minor Miner in Moab

Editors Note:
Yup. This is how it all started for me. We are running this extract from my soon to be published autobiography, "Minor Miner," in that this is the nostalgia issue of The Prospector. I also think the message in this issue's "Where are the juniors?" began to formulate, clear back when.
As mentioned in this story, I lost all of my pictures of this summer experience, so I am substituting some we just took on a revisit to "the old stomping grounds, of the Oregon Kid." Going back was a painful experience! Moab has been taken over by mountain bike enthusiasts, and the town would just as soon forget its history of mining—"yuk"—uranium.

TProspector Barry Murray in Moab Utah during the uranium boomhe Moab Mob

It was hot that June day, 1955, when I drove up the main street of Moab, Utah, honking my horn. Sixteen years old, I was proud of the fact that I had just driven my first car, a 1947 black Ford coupe, over 1,000 miles from Portland, Oregon, and I wanted the men crossing the road from bar, to post office, to the single store of this little town on the Colorado River to know that I had arrived. I was to be one of them, a miner. A man.

Of course my nickname that summer, working for International Exploration Ltd. was to be "the Oregon Kid." And in my efforts to be all grown-up, I completely overlooked the importance of why there happened to be a line a block long in front of that post office, and bar, and store. After all the sign naming the only town on an 85-mile stretch of desert highway listed a population of only 200. If I had stopped to count the boots tramping across the road, packing a case of dynamite, a sack of grub, or a sidearm and mean expression, and divided that by two, it should have occurred to me that the population of Moab ran at least 500 to the block. Which, since the town was five blocks long, meant that 2,500 men also wanted to be counted as miners. History books put the figure at 10,000.

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