Ghost Towns of the West in Cedar City

Many interesting haunts still exist in the Cedar City area. Some of these towns and cities experienced immediate decline after natural disasters or mining busts, while others just faded away gradually over time. During the early morning hours as the sunlight warms the derelict structures it becomes easy to imagine the activity which took place in some of these nearly forgotten communities. In some areas, such as Silver Reef and Harrisburg, residents have returned to create subdivisions and build new homes. In others, only the ghostly remains of foundations and the town cemetery remains. When visiting these towns, remember to only take pictures and just leave foot prints so others may enjoy these sites.

Buckhorn Springs Not much remains of the town which was once the home of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventory and "Father of Television". Located a few hundred yards west of U.S. Highway 91 and nine miles north of Paragonah, only a brick home with a log addition remains.

Fort Harmony Only the foundation stones are still standing in this town which was once the county seat for Washington County. Founded by John D. Lee and others in 1854, the fort walls and its homes were built entirely of adobe. However, from Christmas Day 1861 to February 7, 1862, rains and snow soaked the town, destroyed the homes and drove the residents from their community. Located near present-day New Harmony, the foundations markers are located 1.2 miles west of I-15, on State Highway 144. The markers and foundation are some 200 yards south of the road.

Frisco Like its namesake, this one-time gold mining community of more than 6000 people faced the fury of the earth. Fortunately for miners, the 1885 quake occurred between shifts and no one was hurt. Once a haven for miners, gamblers and ladies of the evening, the catastrophe all but closed the mines permanently. Located 15 miles northwest of Milford on State Route21, visitors can still see many of the original beehive shaped kilns or ovens and several of the buildings. The cemetery also features several ornate grave sites bearing poetic tribute to their occupants. Many of the graves belong to infants and children who were lost during two separate epidemics.

Grafton Well known as a movie set for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, this ghost town was just another sleepy Mormon farming town. Today it has a well-earned reputation as one of the most photogenic ghost towns with Zion Canyon and its towers for a back drop. Five buildings, including the school house and a boarding house, remain intact. To reach Grafton, go to Rockville and cross an old truss bridge spanning the Virgin River. Follow the dirt road 3.5 miles.

Hamblin The town is named for LDS Church Apostle Jacob Hamblin who had a ranch in the area and founded the town. Today, only the graveyard remains. To get there; take the Pinto turnoff on Highway 18 (six miles southeast of Enterprise). The dirt road meanders about three miles until you come to a fork and a bad dirt road going north. The Hamblin Cemetery is about one mile northwest.

Hamilton Fort Once a sleepy farming town noted for its spacious brick homes, Hamilton Fort is coming to life again as more residents move into the town and nearby subdivisions. Hamilton Fort can be reached by the old U.S. Highway 91 access road which runs along Interstate 15. Motorists can reach the access road from the Hamilton Fort exit or the Cedar City south exit on Interstate 15.

Harrisburg Once a pioneer farming town, Harrisburg is now a haven for snowbirds and vacationers staying near the Quail Creek Reservoir. The shells of several pioneer homes still stand in and around the RV Resort. It is located on Interstate 15 near the Leeds south exit.

Hebron Nothing remains of the town, except for the tiny Hebron Cemetery. During the 1860s and 1870s, it was once the largest town for hundreds of miles. However, bad weather and water shortages caused the town to decline and become deserted in 1905. To get to the cemetery follow old State Highway 120, 5.6 miles west from Enterprise which is a dirt road at this point, a sign marked Hebron Cemetery will take you to the spot.

Irontown The town sprang to life in 1870 around the iron industry and mining taking place at the Little Pinto Creek. It was only the second foundry west of the Mississippi. At one time the foundry produced five tons a day and the iron was used in stoves, household items, mining equipment and even for the life-size oxen statues holding the baptismal font in the St. George Temple. Once a town of several hundred people, Irontown is now just a coal oven, a furnace chimney and ruins. A subdivision is building around it. Listed on the National Historic Register, it is 21 miles west of Cedar City on State Highway 56. Watch for the sign to turn left to Irontown, which is another 2.5 miles.

Pinto Once a supply town for the Spanish Trail, it is now just a farming enclave with a few residents. Some of the old brick homes are still occupied and even renovated. Pinto can be accessed by continuing on the "good dirt" road past Hamblin, or from Cedar City by taking State Highway 56 18 miles west of Cedar City, turning at the Irontown sign and traveling 11 miles in a southwesterly direction.

Silver Reef Once a silver mining town of 1500, the city boomed and died in a matter of only 20 years. Today, residents have carved out large homes to make this an upscale subdivision. However, residents and historians have gathered together to preserve several buildings. The old Wells Fargo bank now houses a museum and art gallery. The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is open again for dining, restored in its 1870s splendor. Other restoration projects are underway to preserve the town, which once had a vibrant mile-long business district with street lights and a boardwalk and a thriving Chinatown. Silver Reef is located 1.2 miles west of the Leeds north Interstate 15 interchange.

Visit the many sights of Ghost Towns in Cedar City during a West Coast vacation sightseeing experience. Explore the ruins of days of old and reminisce about the evolution into the current inhabitations of the land. Explore the history that haunts these magnificient structures of a world past. Leave feeling more spooked out than you ever imagined. The history of the West can be felt in these abandoned buildings, fields and natural monuments. Never one to be fearful of an adventure, the traveler inside of you will enjoy these sights, so be sure to take a photograph because you may never revisit these ruins more than once.