Saturday, December 7, 2013

070 The Navajo Mining Railway - An Obituary in the San Juan Record


Walking Bear's Rock

San Juan Record - June 10th, 1931


"Jim" Walking Bear - 1882 - 1993

The Navajo Nation is extremely saddened by the sudden death of "Jim" Walking Bear, a long time leader on the reservation, rancher and a man respected by all.  Jim was pronounced dead on Wednesday, June 3rd, in the morning by Dr. Pritchard after a short bout with jaw cancer.  Doc said the cancer developed from a stone that he found in the desert, which was believed by Jim to have had a streak of yellow gold in it.  Upon examination, local assay office owner David Goldstein proved that the rock was actually uraninite, a source of uranium which gives off radiation.  This was a particularly large specimen.  It is believed by Doc Pritchard that Jim had been sleeping with is rock under his pillow for several years in case a thief should try to steal it.  The constant exposure to radiation gave him jaw cancer (bone cancer.)  Jim is survived by his wife Anaba, and two sons Ahiga and Ata'halne.   The tribal council will be meeting next week to discuss the rumors of a mine that is opening soon just across the river from the Reservation which will be mining uraninite and processing the ore.  It is owned by the Navajo Mining Company but has no affiliation with the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Silver Leather Concho Belt, circa 1920-30

Walking Bear's Belt


Two shafts have been dug already by the Navajo Mining Company to look for "pitchblende" which is the more common name of Uraninite.  For many years other minerals were mined and the pitchblende was thrown to the side in the tailings.  Now science is finding use for the radioactive materials and quantities are bringing top dollar.  Utah appears to be the future capital for Uranium production.

You see, Assay Office Owner David Goldstein works for New York Precious Metals, Inc.  Once he heard about Jim's rock, he telegraphed the office and they sent a team of geologists to the area.  NYPM immediately staked a claim to the area near Mexican Hat, Utah.  Equipment was on the way within days as two test holes were dug.  Jackpot!

"We'll need a railroad to move this much material, especially from the mine to the heap leaching site!  There is an old 30" railroad line at our abandoned silver mine in Colorado", the board thought.  "We'll pack it up and move it there!"

But as with gold mining, uranium also brings death along with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!