Northern Utah Ghost Towns
Utah's northern ghost towns dot the upper half of the state, including across the Great Basin Desert west of Salt Lake City and along the Carbon Corridor between Price and Moab.
"Russian Settlement" is a placeholder for a town that didn't actually have a formal name. The village in northwestern Utah near the Park Valley area was an outlier, both in location and for the fact it wasn't a Mormon settlement. The founding residents were Russian Christians lured to the area by the promise of cheap land, which turned out to be uninhabitable. About 125 people called the place home after migrating east from Los Angeles in 1914.
The ambitious settlers managed to establish a town center, a school and a modest downtown area. Repeated crop failures led to the abandonment of the settlement in 1917 after three miserable years. A few home foundations, gravestones and a distinct white picket fence remain today.
Terrace's fate was tied to the formation of the Transcontinental Railroad. At its peak, Terrace reached nearly 1,000 residents, many of whom were likely Chinese, excluded from the census. The railroad town and its population attracted a chain store, imported trees, library, opera house, pleasure garden, a couple of hotels, a school, a public bath and even a justice of the peace who, according to the shot-up interpretive signage at the site, also ran the saloon.
Terrace all but vanished after the shorter line was completed across Great Salt Lake. Travel to this area requires remote navigating on the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway (Read: A View from The Past).
Unlike many ghost towns in Utah, Thistle wasn't a mining hub nor was it abandoned due to its veins of ore being tapped out. It was designed as a railroad town in the late 1800s and served as a waypoint between Denver and points west. Thistle survived well into modern times until it was dealt its death blow in 1983 when a landslide triggered a massive flood that effectively washed away the entire town. To be fair, the town's population had peaked at 600 in 1917 and was reduced to less than 50 when the flood wiped out what was left — meaning it was well on its way to ghost town status even without the natural disaster.
Some structures still stand, imprisoned by silt. This includes water-ravaged homes and railroad archway entrances to buildings long since destroyed. There are even a few rusting cars within the remaining debris. Thistle is unique in that it is a town that fell into ruin in recent memory and was still functional — although barely — into the 80s.
Continue driving about an hour toward Helper and you can also find Latuda, a ghost town former after the mine closed in 1967.
Frisco & Newhouse
About 15 miles west of the small town of Milford, Utah, exists the remnants of a once wild — and wildly profitable — mining town called Frisco, named for the nearby San Francisco Mountains. The site includes stone kilns and a cemetary.
Also neartby is the ghost town of Newhouse. Although this area was inhabited as early as 1870 the town never amounted to much until 1900 when Samuel Newhouse purchased the Cactus Mine. Newhouse had a dream to establish a model city for his miners and their families.
The small town consisted of stucco homes, a dancehall, restaurant and one bar located one mile out of town. In the center of town was a clubhouse. This clubhouse contained a well-stocked library and pool tables. Samuel Newhouse died before the completion of his dream, but his brother Matt Newhouse continued on and completed the town and keep it up and running until 1910, when the ore in the Cactus Mine ran dry.
Not much remains of the old colony that existed here for nearly 50 years. Mormon missionaries found eager converts in the Hawaiian Islands in the 1850s and 1860s, and church leaders decided to settle a community of about 100 converts in the desolate Skull Valley. A minor leprosy outbreak in 1896 gave Iosepa the distinction of having one of the few leper colonies on American soil.
You see the site of Iosepa a long time before reaching it, with the last remaining old shade trees clearly visible for several miles. The town site is a private ranch today, but you may still access the old cemetery, where there is an especially fine memorial and historical marker describing the settlement of the area. Drive about half a mile up the dirt road between two farmhouses (keep in mind you are on private property) and head toward the large pavilion visible from the road. Built by the Iosepa Historical Association, it is now the site of commemorative events every Memorial Day.