Skip to main content

Lynn Boughton papers

Identifier: COU:161

Scope and Contents

The Lynn Boughton Papers, dating from 1954 to 2002, consist of court appeals, transcripts, letters, reports, schedule, research data, correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to Boughton’s involvement with the Cotter Uranium plant and the effects his work as a chemist there, had on his health.


  • 1954 - 2002

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries do not own the copyright to this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact

Biographical Note

Mr. Lynn Boughton was born on August 22, 1929 in Mesa County Colorado. To make money for himself and his family, Mr. Boughton worked three separate jobs while in High School. He was a very hardworking and determined young man. After receiving his High School diploma, Mr. Boughton enrolled at Mesa College in Grand Junction Colorado. By 1949 he had completed his Associate of Science Degree. After completing his Associates Degree, he moved east to complete his undergraduate studies at the University of Northern Colorado. Mr. Boughton eventually went on to complete graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado, Western State Teachers College, and the University of Colorado.

After completing his graduate work, Mr. Boughton moved back to Mesa County where he married Ms. Deyon Davidson in 1949. Together the couple had three children, Keith, Jeri, and David. During this time, to make ends meet for the family, Mr. Boughton accepted a position as a teaching principal for school district 50 in Mesa County.

In 1955 Mr. Boughton left his teaching position to pursue a career with National Lead. This, although, lasted only three years. In 1958 the Atomic Energy Commission canceled National Lead’s contract. Fortunately for Mr. Boughton, he was almost immediately offered a job as Assistant Chief Chemist with the new Cotter Uranium Plant in Canon City Colorado. He quickly moved up the chain and by 1966 became Chief Chemist at the Plant.

Mr. Boughton and his family had been adjusting well to their new surroundings. Both Mr. Boughton and Mrs. Boughton became very active in the Cotter community as well as the Canon City community. Mr. Boughton became involved with little league sports activities and a number of other community benefits. He also involved himself with local school issues and worked with the local Chamber of Commerce.

In the mid 1960s the financial backers of the Cotter plant decided to change Cotter’s business structure. One of the financial backers even completely backed out. The goal was to show that Cotter could produce a large enough profit to be able to sell the company. This in turn set Cotter up for eventual failure. In 1966 the mill went on standby with only eight full time employees, including Mr. Boughton, remaining on staff. It was during this period of time that Cotter became careless with its waste and contamination began moving into underground water.

The state of Colorado eventually agreed to oversee the Cotter operations under the Atomic Energy Commission rules. This had little effect on Cotter, considering the Colorado Department of Health would give them full notice of inspection and Cotter would simply shut down parts of operation that they knew would not pass inspection.

This unlawful conduct on Cotters part took place for many years to come. Many other states, including Missouri and Ohio, would send their nuclear waste to the Cotter Mill and it would be dealt with very leniently and in an unsafe manner. Although the acceptance of this nuclear waste brought numerous jobs back to the mill, the repercussions were devastating.

Many Cotter employees became ill and were faced with ongoing fatigue. Mr. Boughton was one of them. He had become ill in 1972. This eventually led to his retirement at Cotter in 1979. After leaving Cotter, Mr. Boughton began working part time at Lynde Garden Center, the business that he and his wife started in 1969. His condition seemed to be improving since he had left Cotter, but in 1984 Mr. Boughton experienced a medical emergency and was rushed to the hospital for immediate surgery. It was during surgery that Doctors found and diagnosed Mr. Boughton with Lymphoma cancer. Furthermore, it was discovered that Mr. Boughton’s Lymphoma cancer was linked to radiation exposure.

With concerns looming for his former co-workers, Mr. Boughton decided to speak out about Cotter’s wrong doings. This, unfortunately, resulted in vandalism to the Boughton home and continual threats from a local banker. Mr. Boughton, however, continued to speak out and eventually filed suits against his former employer.

Mr. Boughton was a respected member of the community and was backed by many, not only in his lawsuits against Cotter, but in his struggle for life.

Mr. Boughton succumbed to radiation-induced cancer on April 19, 2001. He was 71 years old.


33 linear feet (22 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Lynn Boughton papers consist of the court appeals records, loose papers, transcripts, letters, reports, schedules, and data, correspondence, and newspaper clippings of Lynn Boughton pertaining to the Cotter Uranium plant. Mr. Boughton was chemist and chief chemist at the Cotter plant from 1958 to 1979. In 1984 he was diagnosed with radiation induced lymphoma cancer and passed away on April 19, 2001.


This collection is arranged in original order in which we attained it from the donor, with a box level inventory list.

In Progress
Processed by Eric Frankowski. Edited by Christopher S. Leighton, September 20, 2004. Machine Readable Finding Aid in EAD by Katelyn Morken, July 2018.
February 6, 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States