Stumbling on an abandoned uranium mine

Last week my family and I made a tour of the five national parks in Utah. In Canyonlands National Park, my son-in-law noticed some grates at the bottom of a hill just a few feet off the road we were walking on. The area was not restricted.

We walked over to investigate and found that these grates blocked entrances to an abandoned uranium mine.

Uranium mine grates

The following photo was taken from the outside, looking through one of the grates. We weren’t foolish enough to try to get inside.

Uranium mine

Radiation is the least of the dangers. The top sign warns you not to spend more than a day in the area, but even that may be overly cautious. Unprocessed uranium is far less radioactive than most people think, and signs say that miners never found that much uranium in the park.

The bottom sign warns that if you get past the grates, you could suffocate from lack of oxygen, die from poisonous gas, fall through unstable rock, or even disturb a bat habitat.

Here’s a transcript of the first paragraph of the bottom sign.

This gate was installed for your safety and for the protection of an important bat habitat. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated in helping to preserve this environment by not attempting to bypass or vandalize this gate. If you manage to get inside, you could place yourself in great danger from oxygen-deficient air, toxic gases, unstable rock, and vertical drop-offs, and you might harm the bats within by disturbing their habitat.

One thought on “Stumbling on an abandoned uranium mine

  1. I wonder if this ever prompted a 1950s B-movie with radioactive bats attacking a small western town. I hope so.

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