mining was done along the Colorado River and in the La Sal Mountains,
Moab's economy was based on farming, ranching, and fruit growing until
the uranium boom of the early 1950s brought in scores of prospectors,
miners, workers, and speculators, increasing the population of Moab
from 1,275 in 1950 to 4,682 in 1960. During the boom, the nation's second
largest uranium processing mill was completed just outside Moab in 1956,
employing more than two hundred workers. The uranium boom brought new
motels, cafes, stores, schools, and businesses to Moab.
Uranium was extracted
from near Moab as early as the first decade of the twentieth century,
and in 1911 the first attempt to drill a commercial oil well between
Thompson and Moab was undertaken. Oil promised to enrich the Moab economy
during the 1920s, but it was not until 1957 when three oil-producing
fields were opened near Moab that something of an oil boom hit the area,
a boom that lasted into the 1960s.
As the demand
for uranium began to decrease in the early 1960s, potash became the
most recent boom industry to hit Moab. A modern potash plant was built
in 1963 and a railroad spur line completed from the Denver and Rio Grande
Western Railroad at Crescent Junction to the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company
mill outside Moab.