By Andrew Gulliford
Publication via Gulliford, Andrew
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Additional resources for Boomtown blues: Colorado oil shale, 1885-1985
16 Gene M. 17 If there are lessons to be learned from boom-and-bust cycles in the West, the oil shale saga is more than just an excellent case study. It is the case study. Now, seven years after the most recent collapse, eagles are returning to their nesting areas and the salinity of the Colorado River is unaltered by leaching from spent shale. Yet fossil fuels will always be a nonrenewable and therefore precious resource. The recent energy bust is only a trucenot a lasting peace. An oil shale boom may come again, for the economies of the world are still fueled by enormous appetites for energy, and the rock that burns lies deep in dark layers of shale.
These canyons penetrate far back into the cliffs, and their bottomland resembles that of the valley floor, a fairly level alluvial flood plain. On Page 16 the south side of the river, the mesas are ancient alluvial fans of lighter-weight, highly fertile volcanic materials. In the valleys of creeks and streams, and in the bottomlands, the alluvial soils are organically rich. Above the mesas stand uplands, and over them the North and South Mamm peaks rise an additional 6,000 feet above the valley floor to a total elevation of nearly 11,000 feet.
To my wife, Stephanie Bruce Moran, a former boomtown teacher, I am indebted not only for her superior editing skills and her patience while I monopolized the computer keyboard, but also for her willingness to stay home with our four-month-old son when I took a six-week research trip to Colorado in the fall of 1985 and returned again in January and March 1986. She also stayed home with Tristan David for three weeks in April of 1986 while I completed a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.