Report - - Polar Mesa Mining Area, Utah, USA – August 2011 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Polar Mesa Mining Area, Utah, USA – August 2011


Death Valley is Mine
28DL Full Member
The Polar Mesa Mining area is high up in the hills above Moab, Utah, and contains several old mining buildings / structures. In its heyday, Polar Mesa Mine supplied extremely high quality uranium oxide – as much as 1.57 per cent uranium.

We took up a trip up here in a specially modified Jeep (with raised suspension and big off-road rubber), hired in Moab for backcountry adventures into the kind of places you wouldn’t take Avis’ finest SUVs. It took about 2.5 hours to reach the mining area from Moab, first going off-road via Onion Creek, Thompson Canyon and then finally hitting the Polar Mesa Mine Trail. It was huge fun, crossing through a winding creek no less than 27 times – ensuring we got caked in Moab’s famous red dirt.


It was very remote and quiet up at the mining area – we didn’t see or hear a soul the whole time. Having done some reading locally before we went up there, the advice was not to spend long and to steer well clear of the tailings piles, as they are still radioactive. I’ve stepped into numerous abandoned mines across the US before, but advice here was really to stay clear as there is radon gas around the tunnels. For those who don’t know, Radon is a radioactive, colourless, odourless, tasteless gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of uranium.

And – I read – radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year alone in the US (urrrrr - not for me, thanks).

It didn’t matter – it was fairly overgrown at the mining site, and I didn’t locate the actual tunnels. Several of the trails had been blocked off to 4x4s (I presume these were the ones) – and the sheer amount of nail-strewn timber lying around in the grass meant we wanted to be fairly careful where we drove as a puncture this far from town is not ideal!

Anyway, up at the site we found the old mining office:




Sadly, inside it was strewn with beer boxes – left more recently (and a lot of lizards running about the place outside):



Further along, down a very overgrown side-track we found this large mining structure:





And behind it, remains from the mining camp, including wooden buildings no longer standing, and mining "debris":




Our Jeep in the very long grass, near to the mining structure:


And further in still, what looked like tailings piles, covered in plant growth, and with a collapsed wooden structure atop:


Incredible views from the mining site over nearby plains - not a person or building in site.


It was an amazing place to find, and wonder around - really makes you imagine what it must have been like to a) work here, and b) be the final crew to leave... I also wonder how many of the miners lived to a decent age - I'm guesinng not much was known about the long-term effects of uranium / radiation back at the time this place was active.