Canyonlands Research Bibliography


Uncle Sam and the Yellowcake Towns: The Effects of Federal Policy on Four Uranium Mining Communities, 1943-1988

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Between 1943 and 1988, four towns in the American West--Uravan, Colorado; Moab, Utah; Grants, New Mexico; and Jeffrey City, Wyoming--twice boomed and busted due, in large part, to their dependence on the uranium industry and the United States federal government. Yellowcake, processed uranium ore, not only impacted these towns' economies but also transformed their landscapes and images. This analysis examines the interplay of changing federal policy, the uranium industry, and the four communities by comparing two company towns--Uravan and Jeffrey City--against the two independent ones, Moab and Grants. This study frames this interaction through five different intervals: the radium and vanadium period, 1910-1942; the Manhattan Project, 1943-1945; the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Boom, 1946-1958; the Allocation and Stretch-out period, 1958-1970; and the Commercial Period, 1970-1988. In each phase, pertinent governmental policies are explained and then examined to determine their impact on the communities. Policies explored include the subsidies and promotions contained in the AEC's procurement program; the environmental regulations concerning mill tailings, radiation, and radon; protectionism and free trade; and the economics of nuclear proliferation. The effects of these various laws and practices on each community are studied to determined how the towns changed. Some of the criteria used in this analysis includes quantitative factors such as population, school enrollment, uranium industry employment, housing starts, and commerce. Additionally, qualitative characteristics such as the use of atomic nomenclature, the construction of uranium processing facilities, and identification of uranium's importance to the well-being of the community help to establish the role of yellowcake in the town's landscape and image. In short, this dissertation analyzes and compares the impact of changing federal policies on four uranium mining and milling communities to reveal the typicality or uniqueness of outside forces on a particular community.


Publisher: University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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