Museum of Moab releases DVD featuring Steen interview and uranium films
Mar 30, 2017 | 1726 views | 0 0 comments | 113 113 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Charlie Steen (right) looks on as a Geiger counter is used to test ore samples from the Big Indian mine in Lisbon Valley in the 1950s. 
								Photo courtesy of the Museum of Moab
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The Museum of Moab has released a new compilation of documentaries that will take viewers back to Moab’s uranium fever days. “Uranium Craze — Moab and Mining in the 1950s” was produced by Omni Productions and the Museum of Moab and contains never-before-seen footage of a 1992 interview with Charlie Steen by Jim Mattingly in which the “Uranium King” discusses Moab and southeast Utah during the peak of the uranium boom 40 years earlier.

In addition to the Steen interview, two movies made by Steen’s companies in about 1954 are also included. “This is Mi Vida” tells the story of Steen’s flagship mine, while “Million Dollar Drill Holes” is a promotional film produced to showcase Steen’s Moab Drilling Company. The films include original footage of uranium mining on the Colorado Plateau in the mid-1950s. The films have been shown at Star Hall in Moab several times in the past, as part of Museum of Moab events.

“The thing I like about this DVD so much is that it has two movies that Charlie Steen produced himself,” Mattingly told The Times-Independent. “To have a camera crew come down from Salt Lake to film his story — that was really innovative. That was pretty groundbreaking for Charlie. And it’s great because we’ve got a history of Charlie.”

The films produced by Steen’s companies were originally on 16mm film and Mattingly had to take them to Salt Lake City to have them digitized. He said the museum also allowed him to go through its photo archives of the Steen family for images to supplement the video of the interview with Charlie Steen.

“[This year] is the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the uranium boom in Utah,” said Museum of Moab Director John Foster. “This documentary gives you a chance to hear from Charlie Steen himself telling the story of his legendary strike, and the chance to see footage of every aspect of uranium mining, from exploration to lab work.”

“The [films] serve as rare historical documentation of the mining boom that transformed the Moab region and the project could not have been done without the help of Mark Steen and the Steen family,” Foster added.

In addition to the DVD, the museum has also released a new edition of its journal, Canyon Legacy, dedicated completely to the history of uranium in Utah. This issue combines three of the most popular past Canyon Legacy editions with updated information and new photographs. Information on uranium mining icons such as Charlie Steen, Howard Balsley and Vernon Pick is included, along with first-hand accounts of everyday life in 1950s uranium camps and Moab.

The DVD, which costs $12, and Canyon Legacy journals are available at the Museum of Moab, 118 E. Center St., and Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St. The DVD is also available at Canyonlands Copy Center, 375 S. Main St.

“Proceeds will help the Museum of Moab fulfill its mission to preserve and display artifacts and information, and to promote research and education, that accurately reflect the natural and cultural history of the Moab area,” museum officials said.

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