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Newspaper Archive of
Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
October 26, 2022     Hells Canyon Journal
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. by Sherrie Kvamme of the Hells Canyon Journal John Webb is a storyteller, producer, editor and writer. He started his career in tele- vision broadcasting in 1984 and has been in the business since then. He has covered everything from pioneering extreme sports to globally syndicated productions and documenta- ries. In 2000 he began expand- ing his repertoire. “I love telling stories. One that especially captured my attention and that I wanted to tell was the Cornucopia story. I love the magic of Cornucopia. I was there as a kid in the 197 Os, and I kind of went through my gold mining phase back then. My dad got me a gold pan and I loved that industry. “Cornucopia is such a big mine and had so much history attached to it for decades. To hear the stories and meet the people and wonder What the . past was like for people and also what the future looks like for a little community up in the middle of nowhere fascinates me,” said John. “I went back to ’Copia in 1977, just a couple of years after Chris Schneider died in 1975. My dad was with me. I think doing the documentary we are working on right now completes a thought I had in the ’80s, and it honors my dad. I thought Cornucopia would make a great story. Cornu- copia impacted me, and I do believe that it is a greatstory. “I started with Larry Bush in 2012. Producing is kind of like being a detective in a way. You start digging around and getting on the Internet to see what you can find. I found out that Larry was basically tak- ing care of the mine for United Nuclear, but it [UNC} turned into General Electric. He gave me permission to go up there and told me not to fall into any holes or mining shafts. He was really a nice guy. “Indirectly, Larry;;helped mewith my first filmrinr20‘1'4 because I happened to get involved with Raemer Sch- reiber who was an American physicist from McMinnville, Oregon. He served at Los Alamos National Laboratory during World War II and par- ticipatedin the development of the atomic bomb. Schreiber helped Dr. J. Robert Oppen- heimer direct the scientific team headquartered at Los Alamos.” (The events that took place in a remote area of New Mexico on July 16, 1945 forever changed the world. The incredible destructive powers of the atom were first unleashed and what had been merely theoretical became re- ality. Schreiber also prepared the Fat Man bomb that was used in the bombing of Na- gasaki. Then after the war, he served at Los Alamos as a group leader and was involved in the design of the hydrogen bomb. In 1955, he became the head of the Nuclear Rocket Propulsion Division at Los Alamos, which developed the first nuclear-powered rockets. He served as deputy director of the laboratory from 1972 until 1974.) ' The test came after three years of planning and develOp- ment within the super-secret Manhattan Project of General Leslie R. Groves and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer who di- rected the scientific team. The Manhattan Project was the code name for the American- led effort to develop a func- tional atomic weapon during World War II. John, continued, “I am not an atomic bomb fan, and I am not saying bombs are good, but they have kept the peace... Anyway, I learned a lot. I also met and inter- viewed his daughter, Sarah Schreiber. She and I worked for four years from 2014 to 2019 on a two-hour film about the atomic age. It’s called The Half of Life of Genius. This documentary provides insight into the beginning of the atomic age. It’s on Amazon Prime. Schreiber was one of Oppenheimer’s most brilliant young physicists Who was recruited for the Manhattan DOCUMENTARIAN JOHN WEBB operating a Page 7 Hells Canyon Journal October 26, 2022 of Cornuc Photos courtesy of Golden Cornucopia Collection except as noted camera during an interview with Larry Bush of Halfway. Bush managed Cornucopia Mines during the era when it was owned by United Nuclear Corporation. Project during World War II.” Schreiber‘was also trusted to carry the plutonium core to Tinian Island where he assem- bledthe atomic bomb known to history as Fat Man. In the mid-19505 he led the effort to build powerful nuclear rocket engines. In The Half of Life of Genius, John interviewed such celebrities as historian Roger Meade and Richard Nodes, a Pulitzer Prize win- ner, nuclear physicist Taylor Wilson and a nuclear engineer Carl Willis. The documentary features rare footage, histori- cal artifacts, photographs and audio recordings. In 2020 John started get- ting serious about a documen- tary about Cornucopia. “I really glommed onto it,” ,- he said. “In August of 2021 I committed to it and started making contacts with people. I put the pedal to the metal and here we are! I was back in the area last June for a weekend. We went to Cornucopia and had an exciting weekend. It was like a rollercoaster. That’s how busy it was, and I got some incredible interviews. I have 90 minutes of Larry Bush on camera about open- ing the mine and his experi- ences there. I have interview with Ann Ingalls and Kerry Gulick, Dale Taylor, Galen West and Bob Taylor. I have these people who have lived in ’Copia talking to me on camera for 30 minutes or longer and every single one of them adds something. “It’s a very different film for me than my last documentary as this one is people-based. It’s a far more personal story, and I am enjoying telling their stories. It’s a real challenge because, like anything you do, it’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. I do a sound- bite approach where someone talks and someone else talks, and I weave these sound-bites together, and when I get done, we have a story. I get their energy straight onto the video. “When I was getting down to business about doing this, Larry told me that the personI need to get a hold of is Thomas Cook. I got hold of Tom he is helping to produce it in addi-_ tion to several other roles. He is an expert on Cornucopia. .He writes with such passion and he paints a very beautiful picture of the place. “I also got hold of Jack My- ers. He works for the Forest Service and is a ham radio operator like I am and we get along very well. He really is a mine nerd. He goes around and learns about the mines, visits with people about them, . and I think that even outside of this documentary, that he will go back and. get some additional footage. He is an incredibly talented camera operator and also a drone operator. Jack has spent a lot of time working on all of the aerial footage. We are working as a group to get this done. Jack’s work on this documentary has really made a difference. He is a pilot as well. We are so, fortunate to have him on board. “Obviously, Thomas Cook and Jared Brandon—Flande and my wife, Patti, are all vital to this production. Patti is the first person to see what I am putting together, and I value her insight. It couldn’t happen without any of them. “Our second shoot was re- ally a pick-up shoot. Larry, Dale Taylor and Bill Schuhle are incredibly helpful. Tom and Larry are all integral to this project and I feel so blessed— so blessed that doors have been opening up and people have been so kind and generous about sharing their stories and what they know. All that they have contributed will show in the end product. I think people are going to like it. “We have acquired a fairly good history and we get into a little of the geekiness of it, opia Film too. I love the technical stuff about the mining process. We have learned so much and how difficult it was to mine so much ore, the people involved and the dangers involved. “Cornucopia is an amaz- ing place, and it deserves a multi-million-dollar story with actors, but I can’t really do that. I can do the budget documentary version but there are a lot of characters in this place. Doc Pollock and Chris Schneider and all of the people who made up this town. It is a much larger story. I don’t have the multi-millions of dollars that it would take to get it on Netflix that way, but hopefully in another few years someone will catch wind of this and do something with it. We’ll see,” smiled John. “Our most recent visit up there was last week. We went to ’Copia on Saturday. I am not much of a hiker. I am pretty sedentary, but I hiked back a few miles and it was a beautiful and a very fun‘day. Then‘on Sunday we went up to Carmelita Holland’s cabin. She has a place way up in the hills, and it took us 90 minutes to get there. You almost have to have a four-wheel drive. It was the most beautiful cabin I have ever seen in my life. I, believe it was in the ’60s she and her husband built it. We were up there for about 90 minutes or two hours, and she was a delight. She smiled and laughed as she told her stories,” said John. “One was her leaverite sto- ry. She said she wanted to get into mining in the early ’605. She had a pit there where she found something that looked interesting. So she took some pieces to a local miner and he told her it was leaverite. She asked what that was. And he told her to leave ’er right where she found it. That it wasn’t worth anything. “She had made us potato salad; we brought pizza with us and she reheated it on her Continued on page 12 ANN INGALLS AND KERRY GULICK being interviewed by author and co-producer Tom Cook for the Golden Cornucopia documentary at the Cornucopia townsite. Photo by Sherrie Kvamme AUTHOR TOM COOK, who is co-producing Golden Cornucopia along with filmmaker John Webb, giving a presentation on the mine’s history at Cornucopia Lodge. 7 ‘