Volume 2, No. 4 - December, 1999

Atomic Age Narrow Gauge

Uranium and the Rio Grande Southern Railroad

Stephen S. Hart

One of the most spectacular railroad lines in the United States was the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) in southwestern Colorado. Built to serve the mining regions of the San Juan Mountains, the goal was to haul gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. The RGS successfully hauled ore from the rich mines of Telluride, Rico, Ophir, and the La Plata Mountains, but it also hauled mundane materials such as coal and oil.

However, the most unusual freight hauled by the little line was the feedstock of the nuclear age-uranium. For, unknown to its builder, the RGS was the nearest railroad to the world's largest uranium deposit, the Paradox Basin area of the Colorado Plateau!

The Rio Grande Southern Railroad in the 1890s

"Pathfinder of the San Juans" Otto Mears began as a toll road builder in western Colorado in the 1860s. Over the years, he made considerable money selling his toll roads to the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) for narrow gauge railroad lines as the original D&RG "transcontinental" mainline over Marshall Pass between Salida and Gunnison. Like many other wealthy men of his age, Mears decided to join the rail boom, so he began building his own mountain rail lines over his toll roads. His first attempt was the Silverton Railroad, which he intended to build northward from Silverton to Ouray, two towns only 23 miles apart by today's Million Dollar Highway (U. S. 550). This line would have connected two dead-end branch lines of the D&RG and would have eliminated a 400-mile rail journey between the two neighboring towns. Mears began in 1888 and quickly reached the mines of Red Mountain Pass and Ironton, only 12 miles from his goal.(1) Here he was stopped, first temporarily, then permanently.

Mears was frustrated by the eight-mile long Uncompahgre River Gorge in his quest to drive his little Silverton Railroad from Ironton to Ouray. However, when Mears' engineers tried to lay out a line, the grade was 12% on Mears' existing toll road and 7% for the only feasible rail route. These grades were much too steep for existing steam locomotives, and even the new electric locomotives would require several long tunnels, gigantic trestles, and mountainous fills.(2) Although technically feasible, such engineering would have bankrupted Mears. The "missing piece" would never have paid!

If he could not go directly through the San Juans, Mears would go around them. In order to bypass the gorge, Mears decided on a 160-mile long rail line through the western San Juans from Durango on the Animas River to Ridgway on the Uncompahgre River. He also decided that the cost was not only reasonable, but that he would also have a monopoly on the western gold and silver mining districts of the San Juans-Telluride, Rico, and Ophir. Beginning in 1890, he sold $9 million in stock in the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) and began his new venture.(3)

Mears constructed the RGS in less than two years. When completed, it was 162.5 miles long with 111 trestles and crossed 10,222-foot high Lizard Head Pass. The RGS provided the only rail service to the mountains and plateaus of southwestern Colorado plus all of southeastern Utah, an area larger than the entire states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware combined.(4)

Always the optimist, Mears considered plans to extend the little RGS to Phoenix and Los Angeles. But his dreams were bigger than his bank book. Before he built the RGS, the rival D&RG had discussed a new line from the Uncompahgre River north of Ouray into the Paradox Basin. However, the lack of large-scale gold and silver mines did not justify the expense, and Mears new line ended all D&RG momentum in that direction. Residents of the farming communities of Naturita and Nucla also hoped to entice Mears to their valley. But the closest he came was Placerville, a small community on the San Miguel River 50 miles upstream from Naturita. As stated by the author of one of the many books about the RGS, "If conditions had been more favorable the R.G.S. might have expanded itself into a good sized system."(5) But in 1893, Mears knew nothing of the mineral riches that lay just beyond his reach in the valleys of the San Miguel and Dolores!

Only 19 months after the completion of the RGS, the Silver Panic of 1893 closed many of the mines in the San Juans. Stock prices plummeted and Otto Mears abruptly went broke. His arch-rival, the D&RG, stepped in as receiver and took over operation of the brand-new RGS.(6) The RGS then became only a small bridge route in the much-larger D&RG's widely advertised "Narrow Gauge Circle."

Mears stole quietly away to Washington, DC, where he completed the old Chesapeake Beach rail line on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He then sold out and returned to the San Juans, where he built the Silverton, Gladstone & Northerly and Silverton Northern lines. But his RGS was never returned to him.(7)

Paradox - Nucla - Naturita
To see a full size image of one of these photos click on it.

The Paradox Basin in the 1890s

At the same time that the RGS was being constructed, another event was taking place in the valleys of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers. A soft yellow ore found in sandstone attracted the attention of the earliest pioneers in the Paradox Basin. One story tells of puzzled prospectors, the Talbert brothers, wondering if the yellow mineral contained gold and in 1881 sinking a shaft into some of it along Roc Creek. When gold was not found, the brothers let their claim lapse. In the spring of 1898, a sample of the unknown yellow mineral was sent by Gordon Kimball of Ouray, an agent for Lombards and Company of New York, to a French chemist, Charles Poulot, then in Denver.(8) Another story indicates that Thomas M. McKee, a pioneer Montrose County photographer, had been dissolving the mineral in nitric acid and applying it to photographic plates to turn the plates a purple color since 1880. McKee stated that he personally gave several pounds of the yellow Roc Creek mineral to Poulot in 1897.(9) In either case, Poulot sent the unknown mineral to a colleague in France, who found it to contain uranium and vanadium.

The French chemists who received Poulot's samples named the new mineral "carnotite," in honor of Adolphe Carnot, a French scientist and Inspector General of Mines who was also the brother of French president Marie Francois Sadi Carnot. This apparently infuriated Thomas McKee, who had named it "montroseite," after the Colorado county in which it was first discovered.(10) The ore is also called "carbonite" in some references.

In 1898 agent Kimball began hauling the ore in sacks on burros to the nearest rail junction, Placerville on the RGS, for use in foreign chemical laboratories.(11) The uranium in the ore was used in small amounts for photography, china painting, and the vanadium in the hardening of steel, so several hundred tons of the ore were shipped in the next several years.

Also in 1898, chemist Marie Curie and her husband Pierre identified a new element, the heavy metal "radium" in Paris, France.(12) Although found throughout the rocks of the earth's crust, this new metal was present in only minute quantities in all except radioactive ores such as pitchblende. Most of the world's supply of this ore was mined at Joachimsthal, Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Several tons of the waste rock from the dumps at this mine supplied the source material for the initial separation of the radium by Mme. Curie.

According to the March 4, 1904 Rocky Mountain News, Charles Poulot interested James McBride, the manager of the LaSal Copper Mines in the Paradox Valley, in building a reduction works to process the carnotite in 1898. This would increase its uranium concentration and reduce the expense of transportation to the RGS. Poulot also reported that his surveys indicated that, along the San Miguel River west of Naturita and along Roc Creek, there was more workable uranium ore than in all the rest of the world outside the valley.

In 1899 F. E. Peake, the RGS agent at Dolores, accepted a carload of ore which had been brought in on wagons pulled by teams of oxen from Utah and billed it out for Pittsburgh. There the uranium was extracted and sent to Paris.(13) Colorado suddenly had competition from its neighbor to the west, but southeastern Utah was as isolated from railroads as the Paradox Basin. The RGS was even benefiting from ore mined in the adjacent state!

The Colorado Plateau Radium Boom, 1900-1923

Research before the turn of the century indicated that radium could be used in the treatment of cancer. This made it very valuable to the medical profession. The primary mining districts of the crescent-shaped "Uravan Mineral Belt" included the Gateway District in the northwest, the Uravan District in the center, and the Gypsum and Slick Rock Districts in the southwest. The principal groups of claims in these districts were located along mesas and canyons of the Colorado Plateau in places like Monogram Mesa, Long Park, Hamm Canyon, Outlaw Mesa, Carpenter Flats, Island Mesa, and Bull Canyon(14) and the largest mines included names like Legin, Cashin, North Continent, and Radium.(15) These names continued to crop up throughout the radium, vanadium, and uranium eras.

In 1900, the Rare Metals Mining and Milling Company opened offices at 3227 Champa Street in Denver and opened America's first uranium extraction plant near Naturita. The company was succeeded by the Western Refining Company in 1903, the Dolores Refining Company in 1904, and the American Rare Metals Company in 1908, but its publicity drew attention to the huge deposits of carno-tite on the Colorado Plateau. A promotional brochure of the time written by Paradox Basin boosters and published by the Naturita Valley Company stated optimistically:

The Colorado & Southwestern Railroad, the permanent survey of which has just been completed, extends to the very heart of the Naturita Valley--a distance of about 104 miles. Along the line of the road are some of the richest mineral deposits in the world; gold, silver, copper and the rarer minerals such as uranium, vanadium, etc., which it has been demonstrated beyond question, are deposited in great quantities, and run in value many thousand dollars to the ton.(16)

Although the "Colorado & Southwestern" was never built, the RGS still managed to take advantage of its fortuitous proximity to the new minerals. As one RGS author explained, ". . . there was twenty-five years, 1898 to 1923, in which practically all of the radium bearing mineral in the world originated on the R. G. S."(17)

The early mining for radium centered around the uranium with which the radium was intimately associated. Vanadium was without much value. Rich uranium in the form of carnotite was found replacing or filling the core of carbonized logs and disseminated through the sandstone.(18) In 1900, production was 153 tons of uranium ore containing 20,000 pounds of uranium and 3 grams of radium.(19) By 1909 vanadium ore was becoming more salable and some 20,000 pounds of vanadium metal was shipped from the Paradox Basin. By 1911, the positions between uranium and vanadium were reversed, with ores containing 6 grams of radium, 42,200 pounds of uranium, and 168,000 pounds of vanadium, produced. This continued in 1912, with only $250,000 worth of uranium ore and $660,000 worth of vanadium ore produced.(20)

In 1910, the Standard Chemical Company began producing milled ore at a mill on the Dolores River and, in 1915, began refining "yellowcake" at its new plant in Uravan (a name based on an amalgamation of "uranium" and "vanadium"). Yellowcake was the uranium oxide (U3O8) shipped to refineries for production of radium or uranium, while the corresponding vanadium oxide was called "redcake." The radium was separated from the yellowcake at the company's plant in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.(21)

On September 11, 1912 the Rocky Mountain News reported that "French/Mme. Curie Buy large Colorado Carbonite Holdings." This event, more than any other single factor sparked the "radium rush." The rush to the Paradox Basin began in 1913, with dozens of companies staking claims and performing exploratory mining or drilling.(22)

The National Radium Institute

The second experiment station established by the U. S. Bureau of Mines opened in Denver in 1910.(23) The purpose of the Denver Station was the investigation of rare metals, including radioactive uranium, radium, vanadium, and thorium. This laboratory was first established in the Foster Building at 910 16th Street in Denver.

In early 1912, this Denver Station determined that large quantities of Colorado carnotite and pitchblende were being exported to European countries for the extraction of radium.(24) The Bureau was concerned with this exportation due to the discrepancy between the price paid for the carnotite ($80 per ton) and that for radium ($120,000 per gram). Also of concern was the small quantity of radium available in the known uranium reserves of the Colorado Plateau. If Bohemian pitchblende supplies were cut off by a European war, the Bureau realized that American and western European radium demand could be supplied only through rapid development of the Colorado Plateau ores.(25)

No Federal government funds being available for development of the Colorado Plateau carnotite in 1913, the Bureau signed a coopera-tive agreement with a private medical group to provide funding, with the Bureau to provide technical support. On October 13, the Bureau of Mines approved the agreement with Dr. Howard Kelly of Baltimore and Dr. James Douglas of New York City. The "National Radium Institute" would expend $150,000 by August 30, 1916, for the purpose of extracting at least ". . . 7 grams of anhydrous radium bromide from any 1,000 tons of carnotite ore" for medical research.

Denver was selected as the location for the radium processing plant of the Institute and construction began during the "Big Snow" winter of 1913-1914 at 457 South Elati Street. Regular production of radium began in June, 1914, with 100 tons of carnotite ore purchased by the Institute from private suppliers. The plant was so successful that an additional doubling of the plant capacity was completed on February 1, 1915.

For a 15% royalty, the Crucible Steel Company agreed to lease the Institute 16 carnotite claims in Long Park, 16 miles west of Naturita and 56 miles from the RGS line at Placerville. In order to prevent hauling raw ore, a 10-ton per day mill was constructed at Long Park in 1915.(26) The milled ore was then shipped in 100-pound capacity burlap bags by wagon to Placerville, where the ore was loaded on the RGS. During a year of operation, this mill produced 298 tons of 2.92% U3O8 for the Institute.(27)

Denver-Radium Capital of the World

The demand for radium expanded rapidly during World War I, not for medical use, but for use in luminous dials on air-craft, naval vessels, and watches and for luminous sights on rifles. The radium sulfide would glow in the dark, eliminating the need for lights which could give positions away to enemy observers. By 1918, such uses accounted for 95 percent of the radium being produced in the U. S., even with a price still as high as $115,000 per gram.(28) These high prices began to attract the interest of investors to the Denver area shortly after the selection of the site of the National Radium Institute. By 1918, dozens of radium processing companies had established plants within the city.

One of the most successful of these companies, the Schlesinger Radium Company was formed in 1914 by W. A. Schlesinger and Henry Koenig, two university professors who met at the Radioactive Laboratories at Princeton University.(29) The company operated a radium processing plant in the old plant of the Denver Wire Mills Company at 1100 Umatilla Street in Denver. By 1918, the Schlesinger Radium Company had changed its name to the Radium Company of Colorado and opened a subsidiary, the Cold Light Manufacturing Company, at 2001 East Colfax. The subsidiary manufactured thousands of luminous dials for military use during World War I.(30) After 1919, the Radium Company of Colorado (RCC) jointly used the "Radium Building" at 1429 18th Street with the building owner, Metals Exploration Company. RCC mined between 1,000 and 1,200 tons of carnotite per year during and immediately after the war. One of their claims, the Maggie C. in Long Park, apparently produced more radium from a single orebody than any other in the U. S.

In July, 1916, the Bureau of Mines Denver Station was moved to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden in order to promote ". . . close relations and general cooperation in mining, ore dressing, and metallurgical research" in rare metals.(31) One purpose of the Golden Station was to collect and experiment with "radium emanation," or radon gas. In July, 1920, the cooperative agreement between the Bureau of Mines and CSM expired and the "Rare Metals Experiment Station" was moved -to the MacKay School of Mines in Reno, Nevada.(32)

Dr. Philip Worcester and Dr. Clare Coffin of the University of Colorado Geology Department spent many summers between 1914 and 1919 performing detailed mapping, sample collecting, and mineralogy in the Plateau.(33) This work was sponsored by the Colorado Geological Survey, which at that time was part of the university. The results of this work were published in 1921 as Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin 16 entitled "Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Deposits of Southwes-tern Colorado."

The National Radium Institute closed in January, 1917, after having processed approximately 1500 tons of "yellowcake" to produce 8.5 grams of radium at a cost of $38,000 per gram, one-third the world price. Most of this ore was left at the site as fine-grained tailings with a U3O8 content of 2.3 percent, although both uranium and vanadium oxide were partially recovered and sold. --The Elati Street processing plant was then sold to the Minerals Recovery Company, which continued to operate the plant until 1920.(34)

By 1917, $11,800,000 in uranium, vanadium, and radium ore had been produced in Colorado.(35) In 1918 $7,500,000 was produced and Colorado ranked number 1 among all states in production of the radioactive ores.(36) One company, Standard Chemical Company of Uravan and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was responsible for two-thirds of U.S. radium production.(37) In 1921, 8,167 tons of carnotite ore at $80 per ton brought $640,320 and contained 30.94 grams of radium, valued at nearly $3.75 million.(38)

Placerville - Newmire/Vanadium - Durango Smelter

The War and the RGS

Although lead, zinc, and copper production in the San Juans slightly increased during World War I, the demand for, and production of, radium and vanadium increased dramatically. The RGS began carrying more tonnage to and from the small town of Newmire (later changed to Vanadium) near Placerville, where the Primos Chemical Company built its reduction plant in 1910(39) and employed 400 men.(40) The ore processed at Newmire was "roscoelite," a relative of carnotite with a higher vanadium content and a lower uranium content.

Nearly 100 carloads of ore were shipped on the RGS from the mines at the Omega and Primos sidings, constructed near the mines in 1915, the three to six rail miles to the Vanadium plant. This increased as the war approached. The following table shows the total number of cars handled by the Ridgway (northern) Division of the RGS in comparable six-month periods of 1916 and 1917:(41)




These figures jumped significantly each year in September, October, and November due to the "livestock rush," when cattle and sheep were brought from high-country public grazing land to the lower valleys or shipped directly to market. In spite of this fall rush, the monthly totals increased from 40 in December 1916, just before World War I began, to 279 in December 1917, the month that the U. S. Railroad Administration took over operation of the nation's railroads by Executive Order of President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1920, a small feud broke out between the RGS and the Vanadium Corporation of America (VCA), the successor to Primos. Based on letters between managers of the two companies, service in May by the RGS did not fit the needs of the VCA mill. This feud was apparently caused by "demurrage" charges that the RGS was applying to the use of freight cars required by VCA and by the additional RGS switching needed to prevent these charges, because VCA had no switch engine and could not switch its own sidings. Demurrage is defined as the payment for detention of a freight car by the freighter beyond the normal time allowed for loading or unloading.

In June 1920, RGS assistant general manager W. E. Green in far-off Denver apparently began investigating the VCA complaints that service was irregular. The three-page response letter from C. B. Carpenter, Superintendent of the RGS at Ridgway, to his boss stated that the problem occurred primarily in February and March, "when we were bothered with snow troubles." In another paragraph, Carpenter stated:

In my opinion, Mr. Ford magnifies the true situation to a considerable extent; the service is not as irregular as he indicates. I promised the plant daily service, and it is being given; not at the same time each day, nor with a train in the same direction each day, but they get switching service some time during the day, and this, it seems to me, is all they are reasonably entitled to. If we get a train in there in the morning it is usually too early to suit them; if it arrives in the afternoon, too late. . . . What the Vanadium people would like to see is a switch engine established at Placerville, so that they may call for and receive service at just such times as they desire it, but such an unwarranted expense is out of the question, from the viewpoint of the amount of business they do. The Vanadium people state that they load one car of ore per day at Primos and one Omega. . . . Just as a matter of information I will give you our record at Vanadium for ten days:


Taken Out
4 Empties
2 Empties
5 Empties
2 Empties
3 Empties
- Empties
3 Empties
3 Empties
4 Empties
6 Empties
- Empties
On Hand
5 Loads
11 Loads - 2 empties
9 Loads - 1 empties
5 Loads - 3 empties
8 Loads
5 Loads
2 Loads - 1 empty
4 Loads
7 Loads
5 Loads
2 Loads

Is it up to us to perform such switching service as they desire, other than placing the cars once for unloading, without making a charge of some kind for the additional movements?(42)

Another letter dated August 4 from Robert Sterling, manager of VCA at Vanadium, responded to the RGS letter of June 26 concerning demurrage charges.(43) The August letter stated that ". . . we UNLOAD between ninety and one hundred cars monthly, while we only LOAD two, these being our concentrates. Our crude ore is loaded at Omega and Primos Siding." In other words, the RGS was used by the company to ship raw ore from the mines at the Omega and Primos sidings to the processing plant at Vanadium, but the only car loadings from the plant were the two cars of concentrates being shipped to the East for final processing.

These exchanges present a picture of the monthly impact of only one vanadium mill on the RGS. There were many more mills and processing plants operating in the Paradox Basin and each required proportional quantities of supplies to operate. The June 26 letter mentioned that these supplies included carloads of ". . . coal, oil, salt, lumber."(44) The RGS was doing better than it had since the Silver Crash of 1893!

The Bust, 1924-1935

Just before World War I began, a British Army major discovered a rich pitchblende deposit in the Haute Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo. Because the deposit was so remote, because the Belgians were aware of the possibility of a war with Germany, and because they feared that Germany might win the war, the Belgian and British governments kept the discovery secret. Shortly after Germany capitulated, the Belgian mining company Union Miniere du Haut Katanga began developing the Shinkolobwe Mine.(45) The ore from this mine reached the market in 1922. The Congo ore contained so much radium per ton that prices worldwide immediately dropped.

When the president of the Radium Company of Colorado, Arthur H. Bunker, heard of the Congo discovery, he hurried to Europe in 1923.(46) Here he learned the Congo pitchblende ore assayed as high as 80% U3O8, compared to less than 2% for the average Colorado carnotite. Although he knew the end of RCC was in sight, Bunker's survival instincts took over and he convinced the Belgians to let his experienced company design the radium processing plant in Oolen, near Antwerp. RCC designed the Oolen plant using a process design originated by chemist M. Frank Coolbaugh for RCC's sister company in Denver, Metals Exploration Company. RCC ceased operation in 1924, but Metals Exploration Company went into the vanadium business and later rebuilt the old Durango silver smelter into a vanadium-uranium extraction plant.

Depression on the RGS

Apparently the Congo discoveries had an immediate impact on employment in the Paradox Basin. We are fortunate to have a published study of the area by University of Colorado sociologist Lee Deets at the very time that the boom turned to bust:

. . . Prices immediately fell. In 1923 only high-grade ore could be sold and that at a low price. Plants gradually closed down. An exodus of miners and prospectors began. A census taken by the writer showed that seventy-seven people left Paradox Valley from August, 1922, to August, 1923, a decrease from 337 to 260. In a few years all the population attracted by the carnotite mining industry had departed.

In the summer of 1923 the valley was found to be in a disturbed state of transition. Many miners were still doing the necessary work to hold their claims. Spirits were kept up by the frequently repeated reassurance, "Carnotite will come back." Bedrock was still a man's town. Fourteen of the twenty-three single men of the valley were still residing there. Twenty men at the Cashin Mine made it their social headquarters. Only three women lived in the near vicinity. . . . The year 1923 was one of transition. The community settled down to the routine of agricultural life it has since known. In August of that year the population numbered 260, including twenty transients at the Cashin mine.(47)

A few mines continued to produce carnotite throughout the bust period, but most of them contained larger quantities of vanadium than the average radium-uranium mine. One reference described the state of many mines after the radium boom ended:

The early mining for radium centered around uranium with which the radium is intimately associated. Vanadium was without much value. . . . Stopes were seldom large, and frequently the walls of openings left after removal of carnotite ore contained sufficient vanadium content to constitute ore some 20 years later when vanadium was in demand.(48)

The timing of the long radium bust from 1924 to 1935 weighed heavily on the RGS. The closure of the Standard Chemical Co. mill at Uravan in 1922, the VCA mill at Vanadium in 1923, and the RCC mines near Naturita in 1923 eliminated one of the major sources of traffic for the little railroad. By 1929, the RGS had gone into receivership and, in order to continue operating at all, required drastic measures.(49) The rapid drop in both freight and passenger traffic caused by the Depression forced the RGS to develop a cheaper mode of rail transportation.

The Ridgway shops of the RGS began building a series of rail motor cars from old Buick and Pierce-Arrow automobiles. These rail cars had an automobile body for passengers attached to a small boxcar-like cargo compartment, with an automobile engine and chain drive for power. The cars had a tendency to "waddle" down the uneven track and had a "honking" car horn instead of the more familiar steam train whistle. Their frequent overheating also caused their drivers to leave the "gull-wing" hoods open while cooling. This combination of waddle, honk, and "wings" gave these unusual vehicles their name, the "Galloping Goose." In spite of their small size, the seven Geese allowed the RGS to continue their desperately needed mail contract and allowed daily passenger and less-than-carload freight business in an area with no paved highways.

Depression in The Paradox Basin

In 1933, the same sociologist, Lee Deets, who had studied the Paradox Basin ten years earlier, returned to evaluate the changes since the bust began:

. . . In 1933 Bedrock was strangely quiet. Claims had been deserted. The Yellow Bird, Monogram, Thunderbolt, and Jo Dandy camps were but memories. The prospectors, with their long-eared burros, were no longer in evidence. The population attracted by carnotite had been a restless crew. They had no interest in the community and were never assimilated by it. They attended the Paradox dances and occasionally gave a hand a summer haying, but otherwise participated little in the valley life. They were in the valley but not of it.

. . . Speculation about the future of the Paradox Valley had even more than the usual hazards. It seems probable that it will continue for some time to come in the agriculturally dominated stage it resumed in 1923. Some believe that carnotite will "come back." To add to the problem of competition with the Belgian Kongo [sic] is added the more recent discovery of abundant rich sources of radium in the Canadian arctic circle. . . . The road which is being pushed from Grand Junction through Gateway will have some social effects upon the valley.(50)

As Deets suggested, miners were nothing if not optimists. A May 10, 1932 article in The Denver Post quoted Sanford Withers, a medical doctor from Denver, discussing Colorado radium potential at a joint meeting of the American Medical Association and the American Radium Society in New Orleans, as follows:
He said a Denver company, which supplies vanadium to the steel trade, has found from eight to twelve milligrams of radium per ton of vanadium ore which obtains from the Dolores district of Colorado.

This radium is extracted as a by-product in separating the vanadium from uranium, a radioactive metal. Already 800 milligrams of radium have been extracted, Dr. Withers said, and "at least 6,000 milligrams will be produced within the next year from this source.

He said this American radium would be produced more cheaply than the present price of the Belgian radium monopoly, which has been $75,000 a gram, or $75 a milligram.

A later article in the May 16, 1932 The Denver Post stated that, to date, Colorado had produced a total of $18 million in radium, mostly used in the medical profession.

The Vanadium Boom, 1936-1945

In 1921 a new vanadium mill at Rifle began operating on ores taken from the dumps of older radium mills.(51) Because it had specialized in vanadium, had a nearby source of rich ore, and was located adjacent to the D&RG mainline, costs were low and the mill was able to continue to operate, and even grow, during the Radium Bust era. In 1926, the 25-ton vanadium plant at Rifle increased its capacity to 125 tons per day and in 1928 increased it again to 140 tons per day. In 1930 the entire state produced $600,000 worth of vanadium, most of which came from Rifle.(52) By 1939 the Rifle mill had nearly doubled again, treating 240 tons of per day and producing 1.75 million pounds of vanadium pentoxide.(53)

By 1936, the demand for vanadium had increased sufficiently that the "vanadium boom" finally reached the still "rail-less" and "highway-less" Paradox Basin from Rifle:

The present Uravan plant of the United States Vanadium Company is a physical link with the Radium-Era in that it occupies the site of Standard Chemical Company's old Joe Jr. mill. It was built in 1936, when the vanadium deposits near Rifle, Colorado, seemed near exhaustion.(54)

Such links between the Radium Boom and the Vanadium Boom were found throughout the Paradox Basin area--in the mine names, mill locations, and even in the individuals who owned the mines or ran the mining companies. An article in The Denver Post on September 21, 1941 stated that:

Durango, Colo., Sept. 20.--Vanadium production thruout the San Juan country is in high gear. . . . A recent survey shows more than 1,500 families representing 5,000 to 6,000 people, are living directly off this southwestern Colorado-southeastern Utah mining industry.

The production area of carnotite or vanadium-carrying ores is being rapidly extended. Important groups of mines opened recently include the North Continent at the foot of Slick Rock hill, San Miguel county. . . . .

Along with many operators of smaller properties, the production is trucked to Paradox or Uravan. In these thriving little towns are located the two largest operating companies--the United States Vanadium and the Vanadium Company of America. Each company mines and mills more than 100,000 tons of ore annually.

Saviors of the RGS

Unfortunately, the optimistic future of Paradox Basin vanadium mining was not helping the RGS; it needed immediate aid. No amount of savings from Galloping Geese or deferred maintenance could offset 16 years of deterioration of the RGS's track and equipment. In 1939, the RGS attempted to abandon the 28.4-mile section of its line between Vance Junction and Rico. This portion of the line included its steepest, most troublesome, and most expensive maintenance areas-the Ames Landslide, Ophir Loop, Lizard Head Pass, and the Dolores River Canyon. An article in The Denver Post (May 18, 1939) described the battle between railroad receiver Cass M. Herrington and mining company officials. Alson J. Anderson, traffic manager of U. S. Smelting, Refining, & Mining Company, and C. T. Van Winkle, chief mining engineer of the Rico Argentine Mining Company, adamantly opposed the abandonment. Fortunately for war-time uranium mining and post-war tourists, Judge J. Foster Symes of the U. S. District Court in Denver disallowed the abandonment petition.

In late 1941, the U. S. Army began planning the Alcan Highway through Canada to provide a supply line to an area that could be threatened by the Japanese Navy and Army. Part of the supply line to build this highway was the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Built during the Klondike Gold Rush, the railroad needed new track, more freight cars, and larger, newer locomotives. The major bondholder of the RGS, Central Hanover Bank & Trust Company, would have been a willing seller to the Army. However, the bank did not anticipate a fight with a woman. Mrs. Elizabeth Pellet, a Democrat state legislator from Rico, decided to rally support for the embattled RGS, since it was the sole means of "rapid" transportation for her highway-less district. According to an article published in the Rocky Mountain News 21 days after Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Pellet enlisted the aid of Colorado's U. S. Senator Eugene D. Milliken and Congressman Robert F. Rockwell to fight the abandonment. The critical issue revolved around the "severe blow" that the abandonment would create for shipment of livestock, which were somehow deemed critical to the war effort, and production of "strategic metals" in southwestern Colorado. The battle raged in the same courtroom as had the abandonment proceedings of 1939, the U. S. District Court of Judge J. Foster Symes. The abandonment petition indicated that, during 1941, the RGS had handled 415 fewer carloads of freight than during 1940 and had not paid operating costs. However, instead of abandonment, the RGS got a loan! As one history of the RGS stated:

. . . The Office of Defense Transportation very nearly tore up the whole Rio Grande Southern for shipment to Alaska, but local citizens, aided by the late Congresswoman [sic] Elizabeth Pellet, obtained $65,000 in financing from the Defense Supplies Corp. to keep the RGS running.(55)

The $65,000 from the Defense Supplies Corporation was the purchase price of the RGS line and equipment. The line was then leased back to former receiver Cass Herrington to operate. The RGS was to pay back the loan at $1,000 per month plus taxes. The money was to be used, as described in The Denver Post on April 21, 1942, ". . . to pay off about $15,000 in back operating vouchers and spend the $50,000 remainder for rehabilitation of track and equipment." Instead of moving the RGS to Alaska, the Army bought a number of engines from the D&RGW narrow gauge and literally "shipped" them to the Far North.

Wartime Production Increases

In the Strategic Materials Act, Congress designated the U. S. Bureau of Mines and the U. S. Geological Survey to investigate the nation's essential critical minerals including vanadium.(56) With the entry of the United States into World War II, the situation changed immediately, and the agency's work was expanded to include investigation of all types of minerals necessary for successful prosecution of the war. The owners of nearly 500 mines, located in 40 different counties of Colorado, requested examination of their properties after the establishment of the Colorado Field Office in 1942. From the 265 properties examined, those considered most worthy of additional exploration were selected and recommended in preliminary War Minerals Reports.(57)

During the 1920s the old Durango smelter operated as a custom lead bullion-leady copper matte smelter.(58) During the Depression, this industry dried up and the smelter closed in 1930. By May of 1942, however, the U. S. Vanadium Company had purchased the 1881-1882-vintage smelter buildings and revamped them into a plant to extract vanadium from carnotite.(59) However, with the substantially decreased demand for domestic vanadium and increased imports, the vanadium mining support program was terminated in December of 1943. Production from smaller operators ceased almost entirely with the discontinuance of ore purchases by the Metals Reserve Company on February 29, 1944.(60) Therefore, 1942 marked the end of the primary importance of radium and vanadium in the mining of uranium ores. After that year, the uranium itself would be the objective.(61)

The Secret Uranium Boom, 1942-1945

While the Paradox Basin was rebuilding its radium industry into a vanadium industry, physicists at several American universities were becoming aware of work by Dr. Irene Joliet-Curie, Mme. Marie Curie's daughter. Dr. Joliet-Curie had predicted that uranium atoms could "fission," or split when bombarded by an extra neutron. When the physicists calculated the energy released by fission, they became concerned with the potential development of uranium as weapon by Hitler's scientists in Nazi Germany.

Where did uranium come from in the U. S.? As described by the famous railroad writers Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg:

A by-product of vanadium manufacture is another something called "yellowcake" which had so little commercial value that for years it was thrown out on the tailings dumps along the San Miguel and washed away when the river flooded, which was fairly often. At least uranium oxide was valueless until Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt. Suddenly an entire region of which the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was the nerve center, became the most jealously guarded mineral deposit in the world and Federal agents were riding the tops of ore cars carrying cargoes that only yesterday vanadium mill owners were throwing out the window. Strangers around Placerville and Telluride had to explain their business . . . and the leased Rio Grande locomotives hauling machine-gun-guarded high cars over Dallas Divide had an ultimate destination, although nobody at the moment knew it, of Hiroshima.(62)

The U. S. Army became aware late in 1942 that, in order to meet the requirements of several new uranium plants established in the uranium-vanadium region of western Colorado and eastern Utah, new mines were needed and production from old ones needed stimulation.(63) Therefore in May 1943, the Army signed a contract with Union Mines Development Company to carry out exploration work,(64) but secrecy was the order:

Particular efforts were directed toward concealing the real purpose of Union Mines and the exact material in which it was interested. The fact that the parent company, Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, was the world's largest user of cobalt and that it was also a user of tantalum, vanadium, and other materials served as useful "blinds" in maintaining the desired concealment.(65)

In the spring of 1943, these contractors suddenly appeared in Durango and began working the dumps of U. S. Vanadium's new plant at the old smelter.(66) Shortly thereafter, the old radium, and newer vanadium, mines throughout the region served by the RGS began producing even larger quantities of carnotite for "vanadium." Interesting links between the radium, vanadium, and secret uranium booms were found throughout the Paradox Basin area:

When World War II bred the need for large quantities of fissionable material, Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Corporation, of which United States Vanadium is a subsidiary, built or converted three plants for the recovery of uranium from accumulated vanadium tailings. . . . Blair Burwell, one of the organizers of the Minerals Engineering Company, played an important part in the development of both vanadium and uranium deposits in the Plateau. He was in charge of U. S. V.'s uranium production from 1943-1945. . . [for] the Manhattan Project. Burwell was with Standard Chemical from 1919 to 1922.(67)

The increased production needed by the Army was expected to come from independent operators, whose funds for development and exploration were limited. Of 143 mines examined by the Bureau of Mines in Colorado, the War Production Board approved investigation of 70.(68) The program was started in July 1942 and continued to the end of the war. In addition, extensive exploration was necessary, so the Bureau of Mines and U. S. Geological Survey initiated a diamond drilling program early in 1943.(69) Eight hundred and ninety-five holes, totaling 38,510 feet, were drilled on 46 different properties. Finally, four of these uranium properties were actually acquired by the government at a cost of $276,000.(70)

Transportation during World War II

The government's bailout of the RGS seemed more clear once one considers the fact that, although vanadium was certainly a strategic metal, it was really uranium that the Army was after. However, few people, even in southwestern Colorado, knew what uranium was used for in 1942. As one history of the RGS stated:

. . . The government's sudden change of heart seemed odd at the time, but shortly afterward mining resumed near Placerville and the Durango Smelter was leased by U.S. Vanadium Co. Carloads of a seemingly worthless form of tailings called "yellowcake" rolled into Durango and then on to an Army plant in Utah. Not until August of 1945 did anyone realize that the valiant old RGS had been a part of the dawn of the nuclear age.(71)

The peak years of hauling yellowcake on the RGS were 1943 and 1944.(72) However, the "atomic-age narrow gauge" continued to provide service to the Manhattan Project until the end of the war. As another history of the RGS stated:

It was the final irony of fate that the railroad that was packing its cylinder valves with old shirting and, figuratively, didn't know where its next meal was coming from, should suddenly, and because no other means of transport existed in the region, be carrying the hottest freight in the long history of railroad operations.(73)

Also, just as Americans everywhere depended on passenger rail to offset the rationing of gasoline and tires, wartime travelers in the San Juans and the U. S. Post Office relied on the RGS. However, being the only "means of transport . . . in the region" was considered by the Federal government to be more hindrance than help in 1942. So the government decided to throw much more money and effort at the competition than the measly $65,000 they had loaned to the RGS.

A very small article in The Denver Post dated June 5, 1942 marked the beginning of the end for the RGS. On that date, the War Production Board announced the designation of a 12-mile paved highway east of Meeker to connect State Highway 113 to a vanadium mine as a "strategic defense highway." Although not located in the area of the Paradox Basin, this was to be only the first of many paved roads built to uranium and vanadium mines and mills in western Colorado during the war by the Federal government.

Congress enacted the Defense Highway Act of 1941 to provide for the construction of access roads to sources of raw materials, when such roads were certified to the Federal Works Administration or the chairman of the War Production Board as important to national defense.(74) Following approval by the Bureau of Mines, which examined the mineral deposits, and War Production Board, the Public Roads Administration designated the agency, generally the Grazing Service, the U. S. Forest Service, or the Colorado Highway Department, to construct the road.

Approval of access roads was based upon the actual or potential quantity of vanadium or uranium ore that could be expected to be hauled over the road, the reliability of the mine management, and the amount of strategic equipment required to assure production. If these factors balanced favorably against the cost of construction and maintenance of the road, it was approved. Total mileage built in the Colorado-Utah uranium belt during WWII was 465 miles, with more than 75% constructed in the region served by the RGS-Montrose, San Miguel, and Dolores Counties.(75)

The Post-War Uranium Boom, 1946-1960

On August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the "Atomic Age" ended for the RGS. As one history of the RGS explained:

It seems incongruous that the 1904 Baldwin and the archbar-trucked cars are a vital part of a weapons system that included the most brilliant physicists of the day, the most advanced technology available, and a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay, all of which would combine to bring to an end the most destructive war in history.(76)

This incongruity was not lost on the Federal government. By mid-1945, all government yellowcake shipments over the RGS had ceased. And the RGS was never again to carry the primary component of the atomic age.

The war ended so quickly that the Federal government had to make a number of post-war demobilization decisions almost overnight. Several of those decisions severely impacted southwestern Colorado. With the bomb dropped and the Cold War not yet begun, the secret uranium processing industry even ended temporarily. The Durango uranium processing plant was closed, "with the cessation of hostilities in Europe and Japan."(77)

On July 1, 1945, Order L-208, which had restricted the mining of gold and silver, was rescinded. However, an acute shortage of labor, materials and equipment persisted, which depressed production and prevented an influx of traffic to the RGS.(78)

The Post-War RGS

Once again, the RGS was in trouble, with no government support and reduced mining throughout the region, not just in vanadium, but in uranium as well. The "atomic boom" years of the 1940s had been nearly as brief as the "silver boom" years of the 1890s for the little railroad.

One bright spot did appear for the RGS, however.(79) Nationally-known rail writers Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg journeyed around the D&RGW's famous "Narrow-Gauge Circle" in 1946. This journey, taken at the invitation of the D&RGW's General Manager, was accomplished in the style to which the pair, who owned a plush, private standard-gauge observation car, were accustomed. The D&RGW provided two narrow-gauge business cars for use by the touring party. No one could be in a hurry on a narrow-gauge journey such as this-the top speed on parts of the RGS was 7 miles per hour. But after the fast pace of World War II, many returning veterans were ready for a leisurely trip into the past, especially if accompanied by spectacular scenery. And the highly-publicized Beebe-Clegg trip gave them new destinations for such adventurous travel-Telluride, Lizard Head Pass, Ophir, and Rico!

Once again, the RGS saved itself with the Galloping Geese. These half-passenger, half-freight vehicles were converted entirely to tourist use by putting windows and seats in the "boxcar" portion and rebuilding the "passenger" section using school bus bodies. This combination allowed the RGS to pack as many "rail buffs" into a Goose as the steam-powered, pre-war mixed passenger-freight trains could carry. Combined with occasional steam passenger runs and the fall livestock "rush," the little line managed to stave off the end for a few more years.

During 1948, domestic uranium ore production was stimulated by the new Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) announcement of a guaranteed minimum price. Early in 1949, the AEC announced an upwardly revised price schedule for uranium ores.(80) The Durango uranium processing plant reopened, but this time the RGS did not get any of the business-it all went to trucks.(81) The paved roads built by the government during the war finally took the last potential new business away from RGS. With the precious metal mining industry still depressed and with the competition from trucks, it was only a matter of time until the RGS was abandoned.

A new Federal government program to assist in financing exploration for reserves of strategic and critical materials, which had been authorized in 1950, was undertaken by the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration during 1951. A new uranium bonus payment plan was also announced by the AEC, which raised the guaranteed minimum price for ores and stimulated the search for additional deposits on the Colorado Plateau.(82)

The End of the RGS

In spite of the Cold War, which began in 1947, and the Korean War, which started in June 1950, uranium production did not really begin to boom until several years had passed and the additional price stimulation by the AEC had taken effect. By the spring of 1951, the fate of the RGS was sealed. No longer was the RGS the preferred, or even the only, form of transportation into the beautiful San Juan Mountains. The post-war rush of tourists to the RGS had ended-car manufacturers were finally producing new post-war cars and tourists had new paved highways, courtesy of the Manhattan Project, to drive into the region. The new highways also allowed trucks loaded with carnotite to drive directly from the mines to the mills at Durango and Uravan. The mail contract was even lost to trucks traveling the new "government" highways. With the scrapping of the D&RGW line over Cerro Summit between Gunnison and Montrose in 1949 and the demise of the D&RGW's San Juan passenger train from Alamosa to Durango in late 1951, few locals rode the Galloping Goose to connections at Durango or Ridgway. The last runs of the sixty-year old line came late in 1951-carloads of cattle, sheep, and members of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. The RGS would operate no more except to dismantle itself.

During 1952, at the height of the Korean War, government emergency programs greatly stimulated exploration and mining of uranium. The greatest single advance in metallic ore production during the year was accomplished by the uranium mining industry, with new discoveries being reported throughout the state, even in the crystalline rocks of the Front Range.(83) During the year, 550 operators shipped uranium ore, most from the old uranium region of the Paradox Basin. The AEC also extended its purchasing program on uranium until March 31, 1962.

Also during 1952, the scrappers came to the RGS. The salvage company ran the last steam locomotives over the route to pick up all the old freight and passenger cars. Several of the Galloping Geese were converted to flat cars to carry equipment and salvaged items. The rails were pulled up, although the ties were left in place. All of the Galloping Geese reamain, bought by the towns of Dolores and Telluride, the Colorado Railroad Museum, and others. One steam locomotive (No. 74) was bought by the City of Boulder, another (No. 20) by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club (now at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden), and another (No. 42) also survives today. However, by the winter of 1952-1953, the RGS existed only in memory and in the thousands of photographs taken by tourists who were fortunate enough to ride the "Galloping Goose Line."

The Greatest Mining Boom in Colorado Since Cripple Creek

By 1953, the Colorado Plateau was again booming. During this period, a great deal of fresh capital came into mining, most of it drawn by uranium's glamour. However, substantial amounts of money also went into other branches of the industry, including the lead, zinc, silver, copper and gold mining in the former RGS region. In fact, in Telluride 1952 was the biggest year for silver production, and 1953 the biggest for gold production since the early 1920s.(84) Nearly the same story could be told for Rico, where both gold and silver production were the highest since 1940.(85) Because the RGS went directly to the mines and mills in these two districts, the old railroad may have been able to survive a little longer if it had made it through 1952.

During 1954 and the following two years, Colorado experienced a frantic rush of uranium-prospecting janitors, lawyers, secretaries, and even a few geologists. In 1955, 307 active uranium properties were in the exploration, development, or mining stage and five uranium mills were in operation at Naturita, Uravan, Durango, Grand Junction, and Rifle.(86) Even vanadium, as a by-product of uranium mining, made a come-back, with 4.6 million pounds produced in 1955.

The year 1956 was a prosperous one for the mineral industry, with uranium production contributing $12 million to Colorado's economy. Colorado's share of the domestic uranium industry included 6.8% of the ore reserves, 18% of the mine production, and 25% of the milling capacity. By 1957, four new uranium mills were under construction at Slick Rock, Rifle, Maybelle, and Gunnison, in addition to the five existing mills. By 1958, two new uranium mills began operating and a third increased its capacity. At year's end, the seven uranium mills operating in Colorado had a total capacity of 3,790 tons per day, with a new mill at Canon City just beginning operation.(87) By 1960, the region formerly served by the RGS contained one-half the uranium mills in the state-one each at Naturita, Uravan, and Durango and two at Slick Rock.


If the RGS had lasted only another year and been able to participate in the 1950s uranium boom, tourists today might be able to view Ophir Loop in the same way that they can view the Georgetown Loop, Animas Canyon on the Durango & Silverton, or Toltec Gorge on the Cumbres & Toltec. Just imagine leaving Durango in a Galloping Goose or an open observation car pulled by a 1904-vintage steam engine, then crossing 10,222-foot Lizard Head Pass and the hundred-foot high trestles 1,500 feet above the San Miguel River, on the way to Telluride!

Instead of this dream, we now have a new Aspen, another uranium bust, and a Superfund site. The ski area at Telluride now caters to the wealthy elite, who live in Colorado only part-time. Unfortunately, most these newcomers have no sense of the significance of the RGS in the beginnings of the nuclear age. Where famed RGS 4-6-0 No. 20 once strained trying to pull the trains of the "atomic-age narrow gauge" over the Ophir Loop, Ophir and Vance Junction are now becoming burgeoning bedroom communities for Telluride's overflowing population. Soon, all rail buffs will have left will be memories and old photographs of the San Miguel valley.

After the 1979 Three-Mile Island power plant disaster caused uranium prices to drop 75%, the uranium industry in Colorado died. All of the remaining uranium mills on the Western Slope closed by the mid-1980s. The buildings were then demolished and cleaned up as part of the U. S. Department of Energy's Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Program and other state and federal programs. The entire company town of Uravan, site of the old Standard Chemical Company radium mill and the newer Union Carbide uranium mill, has been demolished.

The old radium processing sites in Denver were "rediscovered" in 1979, creating alarm among residents in older parts of the city. Over 40 radioactive sites eventually discovered within the city were consolidated into a single Superfund site. In the early 1990s, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency contractors finally excavated the radioactive soil and shipped it to a burial site in Utah via covered gondolas of the D&RGW. It is somehow fitting that the railroad that received the yellowcake from the RGS at Ridgway before 1923 and hauled it to Denver for processing into radium carried it back to the Colorado Plateau 70 years later!


1. Lavender, David, "Skyline Engineer," Rocky Mountain News Empire Magazine (December 5, 1948): 2.
2. Crum, Josie Moore, The Rio Grande Southern Railroad (Durango: San Juan History, Inc., 1961), pp. 24-25.
3. Lavender, 1948, p. 2.
4. Lavender, 1948, p. 2.
5. Crum, 1961, p. 25.
6. Lavender, 1948, p. 2.
7. Lavender, 1948, p. 2.
8. Deets, Lee, "Paradox Valley--Historical Interpretation," Colorado Magazine XI, no. 5 (Sept. 1934): 194.
9. McKee, Thomas M., "Early Discovery of Uranium Ore in Colorado," Colorado Magazine XXXII, no. 3 (July 1955): 194.
10. McKee, 1955, p. 194.
11. McKee, 1955, p. 196.
12. Landa, Edward R., "The first nuclear industry," Scientific American, (Nov. 1983): 180.
13. Crum, 1961, p. 42.
14. Bruyn, Kathleen, Uranium Country (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1955), p. 91.
15. Vanderwilt, John W., Mineral Resources of Colorado (Denver: State of Colorado Mineral Resources Board, 1947), pp. 488-489; Vanderwilt later became president of Colorado School of Mines.
16. Brown, History of Montrose County, Colorado, Master's thesis (Gunnison: Western State College, 1987), p. 303.
17. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
18. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 228.
19. Del Rio, S. M., Mineral Resources of Colorado, First Sequel (Denver: State of Colorado Mineral Resources Board, 1960), p. 10.
20. Del Rio, 1960, p. 11.
21. Rocky Mountain News, Jan. 1, 1922, Agric., Livestock, Mining, and Manuf. section, p. 6.
22. Moore, Richard B., and Karl L. Kithil, A Preliminary Report on Uranium, Radium, and Vanadium, Bulletin 70 (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines, 1916), p. 103.
23. Manning, V. H., Experiment Stations of the Bureau of Mines, Bulletin 175 (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines, 1919), pp. 54-62.
24. Moore and Kithil, 1916, p. 6.
25. Parsons, C. L., Richard B. Moore, S. C. Lind, and O. C. Schaefer, Extraction and Recovery of Radium, Uranium and Vanadium from carnotite, Bulletin 104 (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines , 1916), pp. 2-5.
26. Kithil, Karl L. and J. A. Davis, Mining and Concentration of Carnotite Ores, Bulletin 103 (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines, 1917), p. 8.
27. Parsons, Moore, Lind and Schaefer, 1916, p. 117.
28. Keeney, R. M., "Radium in 1918," Mines Magazine, v. 9, n. 8 (Colorado School of Mines, 1918): 249-251.
29. Bruyn, 1955, pp. 66-67.
30. Keeney, 1918, pp. 250-251.
31. Manning, 1919, p. 56.
32. U. S. Bureau of Mines, "Radium," Eleventh Annual Report (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines, 1921), pp. 48 and 91.
33. Coffin, R. Clare, Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Deposits of Southwestern Colorado, Bulletin 16 (Boulder, CO: Colorado Geol. Survey, 1921), 231 pp.
34. U. S. Bureau of Mines, "Radium and uranium," Tenth Annual Report (Washington, DC: U. S. Bureau of Mines, 1920), p. 53.
35. State of Colorado, Colorado Yearbook, 1918 (Denver: State Board of Immigration, 1918), p. 22.
36. State of Colorado, Colorado Yearbook, 1920 (Denver: State Board of Immigration, 1920), p. 26.
37. Hess, Frank L., "Uranium, radium, and vanadium," Mineral Resources of the U. S. (Washington, DC: U. S. Geol. Survey, 1920): 415.
38. Del Rio, 1960, p. 13.
39. Ferrell, Mallory Hope, Silver San Juan (Boulder: Pruett Pub. Co., 1973), pp. 139-140.
40. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
41. Letter dated January 6, 1918 from "Superintendent" at Ridgway to L. F. Wilson, Superintendent of Transportation, Denver (from Rio Grande Southern collection at Colorado Railroad Museum).
42. Letter dated Jun. 26, 1920, from C. B. Carpenter, Supt. Rio Grande Southern Railway, to W. E. Green, Asst. Manager of Vanadium Corp. of America, Placerville, CO (from Rio Grande Southern collection at Colorado Railroad Museum).
43. Letter dated Aug. 4, 1920, from Robt. Sterling, Manager of Vanadium Corp. of America, Vanadium, CO, to C. B. Carpenter, Supt., Rio Grande Southern Railway, Ridgway, CO (from Rio Grande Southern collection at Colorado Railroad Museum).
44. Letter dated Jun. 26, 1920, from C. B. Carpenter to W. E. Green.
45. Bruyn, 1955, p. 10.
46. Bruyn, 1955, pp. 68-70; both Bunker and Coolbaugh later became presidents of the Colorado School of Mines.
47. Deets, 1934, pp. 195-196.
48. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 228.
49. The Denver Post, June 15, 1942, p. 8.
50. Deets, 1934, p. 196.
51. Del Rio, 1960, p. 13.
52. Del Rio, 1960, p. 14-15.
53. Del Rio, 1960, p. 17.
54. Bruyn, 1955, p. 101.
55. Krause, John and Ross Grenard, Colorado Memories of the Narrow Gauge Circle (Newton, NJ: Carstens Publications, Inc., no date), p. 5.
56. Vanderwilt, 1947, pp. 471-472.
57. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 472.
58. Del Rio, 1960, p. 14.
59. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
60. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 485.
61. Del Rio, 1960, p. 18.
62. Beebe, Lucius and Charles Clegg, Narrow Gauge in the Rockies (Berkeley, CA: Howell-North Press, 1958), p. 200.
63. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 486.
64. Brown, Anthony Cave and Charles B. MacDonald, The Secret History of the Atomic Bomb (New York: The Dial Press/James Wade, 1977), p. 191.
65. Brown and MacDonald, 1977, p. 193.
66. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
67. Bruyn, 1955, p. 101.
68. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 495.
69. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 486.
70. Brown and MacDonald, 1977, p. 193.
71. Krause and Grenard, no date, p. 5.
72. Rio Grande Southern Railway, Annual Reports to ICC, Colorado Historical Society manuscript files (MSS 893, Part 18, Box 16, 1941-1951).
73. Beebe and Clegg, 1958, p. 200.
74. Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 495.
75. Vanderwilt, 1947, pp. 495-496.
76. Krause and Grenard, no date, p. 58.
77. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
78. Del Rio, 1960, p. 19.
79. Beebe & Clegg, 1958, pp. 200-222.
80. Del Rio, 1960, p. 20.
81. Crum, 1961, p. 43.
82. Del Rio, 1960, pp. 21-22.
83. Del Rio, 1960, pp. 21-22.
84. Del Rio, 1960, p. 280; Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 203.
85. Del Rio, 1960, p. 116; Vanderwilt, 1947, p. 73.
86. Del Rio, 1960, pp. 23-24.
87. Del Rio, 1960, p. 25.

30/74 Revisited

30/74 Revisited - Return To Opening Page - A final Comment

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