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.