to World War I, radium mining dwindled but a new bonanza was identified
in the tailings dumps of the mines. When it was determined that the
discarded vanadium added to molten steel would greatly increase the
tensile strength and elasticity of the metal, Utah's vanadium industry
flourished. One of the dominant figures in the resultant boom was Howard
Balsley of Moab, who sold carnotite ores to Vitro Chemical Corporation
of Pittsburgh for medicaments and luminous paint.
wasn't until twenty-five years later, as a result of the atomic age
and subsequent arms race of the Cold War, that uranium, previously considered
a waste product of the vanadium mines, came into demand as a key element
for nuclear weaponry. In the beginning, almost 90 percent of the United
States' uranium supply was imported from the Belgian Congo and Canada.
But scanty amounts being filtered from abandoned radium and vanadium
dumps on the Colorado Plateau gave promise of an untapped domestic source.
The Manhattan Project of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, charged with development
of an atom bomb to end the war, instituted a covert program to mine
uranium from the vanadium dumps and sent geologists to scour the region
in search of new lodes.