People Profiles: Uranium Boom
The King of Uranium
Charlie Steen’s search for uranium led him to southeastern Utah. His luck changed when an ore sample that broke his used drill was tested on a Geiger counter that “went off the charts!” Steen developed the Mi Vida Mine and built a uranium mill on the Colorado River. Now a millionaire, Steen became a generous donor and helped the Moab community. Elected to the State Senate, he was admired by his colleagues until he proposed legalizing the sale of alcohol by the glass and gambling, and lowering the legal age to purchase tobacco. Steen quit the Senate, sold everything, and left Moab to pursue other ventures.
Steen's friend Pete Byrd recalls the moment Charlie Struck it Rich with Uranium Discovery
The Father of Uranium
Howard Balsley began his career as a Forest Service clerk, but quickly transitioned to Clerk/Auditor of Grand County where he worked for 13 years. He resigned to devote time to mining and buying uranium ore long before the 1950s boom. Balsley also provided grubstakes (up-front funding or supplies for a share of profits) for many prospectors including Charles Snell and his Yellow Circle Mine. Just prior to the Uranium Boom of the 1950s, Balsley sold his share of the Yellow Circle for a pittance. His efforts to secure federal government investment in Utah’s uranium business, and his ability to connect ore miners to buyers earned him the name “Father of Uranium.”
For more about Howard Balsley, see our special exhibit.