Buffalo in the ’50s: Stoking the flames of uranium fever at 998 Broadway

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In July 1955, a group of Ohio housewives had prospecting fever, after a friend in Canada mentioned they found what they thought was uranium in an abandoned mine. The women, Geiger counter in hand, traveled to a spot 200 miles northeast of Toronto, found radiation, and staked their claims to millions.

Trying to angle in on the hopes of Buffalonians, within weeks of write-ups in all the papers and magazines about the discovery, Sattler’s had a full array of radiation detection equipment available.

Make no mistake, buying the equipment to check your own property for uranium—or to run up to the Canadian brush to stake a claim there—wasn’t cheap. The featured $149 machine would roughly cost $1,300 in 2015 dollars according to federal government calculators. The scintillator, which gives more advanced breakdowns of radiation, was $4,400 in today’s money.

But for $29.95, (2015-$250), a base model Geiger Counter was “perfect for weekend 49ers.”

As the jingle famously reminded us, “shop and save at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway.”

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor, produced PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.