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Sarah Kanouse, Contamination warning signs in the Uravan Valley, 2014, Flickr


Uravan Mines

The town of Uravan supplied the uranium that produced the bombs that ended World War II and fueled the Cold War nuclear arsenal. The company town of Uravan was established in 1936 at the original site of the Joe Jr. Mill. At its peak, over 800 people lived in the town. An epidemic of cancer among the miners was first documented in 1956.

The name "Uravan mineral belt" is applied to a narrow, elongated area in southwestern Colorado in which carnotite deposits in the Morrison formation have a closer spacing, larger size, and higher grade than those in adjoining areas. The belt extends from Gateway through Uravan to Slick Rock.


Fischer, R. P. and L. S. Hilpert. "Geology of the Uravan Mineral Belt." Geological Survey Bulletin 988-A. U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1952. Accessed March 26, 2018.

Weller, Robert. "Nuclear Fuel Town Not Even a Dot on Map: Colorado: Soon, bulldozers will scrape Uravan off the face of the Earth. Why? Those Radioactive Tailings." Los Angeles Times, October 23, 1994. Accessed July 31, 2020.

Hessler, Peter. "The Uranium Widows." The New Yorker, September 6, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2020.

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