Mi Vida Mine Marker
An official monument on the highway near near Moab, Utah, to note the location of the Mi Vida mine, and the legacy of the uranium boom
Southern Utah was profoundly affected by the early Cold War and by the government’s need to develop a domestic supply of uranium. The Colorado Plateau has one the richest deposits of the element anywhere in the world and – inspired by federal bonuses and a sense of patriotism – thousands of amateur prospectors from around the United States resettled in the vicinity of Moab in an attempt to develop new mines in the early 1950s. One of these men got extremely lucky: 31-year-old geologist Charlie Steen found a vein of uranium at a place he called Mi Vida. The discovery received lavish international press coverage and inspired even more to join the hunt. The mining was occasionally reckless and without meaningful safety protocols. At least six hundred miners suffered disease and early death because of the radioactivity.
Surprisingly, there is no monument anywhere in Utah to commemorate this significant chapter in state history. A committee of residents is seeking to change that. Funds are now being raised to erect a permanent iron marker on state school trust land near the Lisbon Valley ridge on the eastern side of U.S. 191, about seven miles away from the site of the mine but visible to traffic on the federal highway.
The monument will commemorate and honor the entire uranium legacy – both positive and negative -- in Southern Utah and not merely Mi Vida. It is only appropriate that it stand near the spot in the red rock country that triggered such a transformative era, which is all-too-invisible today to the casual visitor.
Donations for the project may be mailed to the Museum of Moab, 118 East Center St., Moab, UT 84532. Checks should note "Mi Vida Marker" in the notation line. There is also an online contriubtion campaign at www.kickstarter.com under the name "Mi Vida".