Paddy Martinez

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Paddy Martinez in 1956, on the discovery outcrop. Life magazine photo.
Paddy Martinez, man who discovered uranium, 1956. Life magazine photo.

Patricio "Paddy" Martinez (1881-1969), American prospector and shepherd, discovered uranium at Haystack Mesa, near Grants, New Mexico in 1950. This was the first discovery in the Grants Uranium District, and led to a uranium boom that lasted almost 30 years.

Martinez's discovery, on Santa Fe Railroad land, was developed into the Haystack mine. He was hired by the railroad and Anaconda Mining Company as a uranium scout for $400 per month, a good salary then.

Martinez, a Navajo of Mexican descent, and a native New Mexican, became famous for his discovery. He was the subject of feature articles in Time, Life, True West and Reader's Digest magazines. Martinez was fluent in the Navajo, Laguna (Keresan), Spanish and English languages. He was a medicine man and a leader in his community.

His tombstone at Grants Memorial Cemetery simply reads, 'Paddy Martinez 1881 - 1969 Uranium Pioneer.' He rests a stone's throw from Paddy Martinez Park, where children play. He was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in 1992.

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