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Two Oregon Uranium Mines Prove Viable

In 1867, George Nurse founded Linkville, Ore., named after the river that links the Klamath Lakes.  City boosters got the name changed to Klamath Falls in 1893. A descendent of Nurse, Earl Sheridan, staked a claim on what he believed were inherited mineral rights, pitched a tent, and stood guard with a shotgun. He stayed on the alert through a bout of appendicitis, but quit when his lawyer determined Nurse had deeded the mineral rights to the city.

During the 1950’s, the U.S. federal government encouraged prospectors to find uranium for atomic weapons. The Atomic Energy Commission built roads into promising uranium sites and purchased ore with at least 0.3 percent uranium for $50 a ton. The commission offered $10,000 cash bonuses to prospectors who found big deposits.

However, only two uranium deposits in Oregon proved commercially viable: the White King Mine and the nearby Lucky Lass Mine, both near Lakeview on the high desert some 90 miles east of Klamath Falls. The mines closed when the Atomic Energy Commission had all the uranium it wanted and dropped the subsidy.

Both mines today are EPA Superfund cleanup sites with remedial measures functioning properly according to the Oregon Department of Ecology.

 

Source: J.D. John, Finn. "Oregon’s 20-century ‘gold rush’: The quest for uranium." Douglas County News 22 July 2015. Print.

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Dr. James S. Long was an As It Was contributor until his passing in January of 2016. He met editor Kernan Turner when Kernan spoke to the Roseburg writers’ club about contributing to JPR's As Is Was series. His contributions to As It Was ranged from a story about the recovery of whitetail deer at the old Dunning Ranch to the story of Nick Botner’s private orchard near Yoncalla created to preserve over 3,000 heritage apple varieties.