Oral Histories

William D. McDougald


Bill McDougald

Q: I think that’s the way it works in most of those engineering fields.

A: Specialists in the oil industries are company trained.

Q: Did I get the idea that your classmate was Don Baars, the author?

A: Yes, Don Baars was a classmate and a very bright young man and we had a funny thing going at the University of Utah. We had Dick Zitting from later Kerr McGee fame vice president was there at the time and Don Baars and myself and Dean Webb ended up in Wyoming. These were just some of my classmates but Dick… we used to joke later on that I was the mayor of Moab, Utah, and he was the vice president of Kerr McGee Mining. We used to joke down in New Mexico and I used to do work for Dick doing reserves work in the Ambrosia Lake area big time for royalty holders. Yeah, I had a lot of experience, a lot of experience in uranium. The AEC guys before we closed out over there really, they quoted me as the authority on the Chinle formation in this area. And of course the Big Indian’s in the Chinle and the Inner River deposits are in the Chinle. You have a unit down in the Monument Valley termed the Shinerump conglomerate, or grit. It sits at the base of the Chinle and extends into the White Canyon Elk Ridge Indian Creek area. In Big Indian we mined another basal unit in the Chinle formation.

Q: When did you get into politics?

A: You know that’s a funny thing and I’m telling you the truth. I grew up here in Moab, you know, I finished high school here. Family still lived here and then I moved back. At some kind of meeting with the famous ex-mayor Winfred Bunce, who was also a County Commissioner and really a very capable guy, we had gone to some place for some reason and we were havin’ a sip of whiskey there and fraternizing. And there was John Mullins from Hidden Splendor Mine which later became Atlas Mining and Bob Curfman who was a surveyor basically. Later he ended up with Texas Gulf down here. The Curfman family, the daughters are still here. We made a bet with Mayor Bunce that we could elect three guys to the Council. And we won. We finally got this fifth of whiskey out of him.

Q: And you were one of them?

A: I was one of them! And that was 1956 we went on the City Council.

Q: And you never left?

A: No, I served from ‘56 through ’60, and then there was an absent period, I think, from ’60 to ’64. It’s on that plaque we showed you. I served 32 years on the Council, four years as Mayor, four years on the planning commission. Mayor Karla Hancock gave me this plaque.

Q: So you served a total of forty years?

A: I served forty years.

Q: How many as Mayor?

A: Four years, ’74 through ’78. I served as City Planning Commission from 1960 to ’64.

Q: So you just retired last year?

A: No, I retired in 1999. I went off the Council in 1999. I want to explain to you a little bit why I served so many years on these boards like this. First of all I was in mining and consulting around mining. I didn’t have a retail shop downtown. Now these guys that have retail shops on Main Street they’re usually limited on the years on that because they’re going to make customers mad at their store or something and I wasn’t affected that way. I was working for executives or bosses at the mining company who I answered to.

Q: They didn’t live here?

A: They lived in Moab, yeah, and they’d give me all kinds of advice on being a Councilman and all that. I mean, I never will forget when we started this moisture sampling deal that went on for all those years. I went out to see Gordon Miner out at Homestake one time and he says “I want to show you why you’re not worth a damn, Bill.” And he showed me that the moisture had gone up. But we still were doing that work and we were hired for sixty days and it lasted from 1959 till when they closed the mill in 1984 or ’86. I was the shipper’s representative is what I was called and in hard rock mining you’re called a “moocher.” You take samples from railroad cars and all that. I never will forget how I got offended one time by Willard Johnson from Atlas who was well known and was one of the guys under Roy Hollis. He come out to crushing and sampling and he says “Hi moocher!” and I was offended because I didn’t even know what it meant, see? By the way, one of the finest executives I ever worked with in mining was Roy Hollis.

Q: The Museum has a picture of him but I didn’t know him.

A: He was the finest man I ever worked with. We worked together in this shipper stuff. We understand each other and he’d come out and chew me out just like an employee when something come along. One time they brought some high silver in from the infamous Happy Jack mine. I didn’t know anything about it. I wasn’t even working for these guys. And he chewed me out because I let ‘em mix it in a stockpile of other ores. They put it in the regular pile, having copper values. This had 58 ounces of silver.

Q: The Happy Jack?

A: The old Happy Jack, underneath. These guys took a little lead that went down in the floor of the Happy Jack and led into an ore body. They mined $850,000 out of this pothole. Underneath the main deposit! John Black, and another guy and a guy named Hurst out of Blanding Utah did the mining. The famous Happy Jack was first located as a copper deposit. Same history as Great Orphan Lode, south rim of the Grand Canyon.

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