Day Trip to Zion Part 1 (Grafton)

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Chuck and I decided to take a drive out to Zions this afternoon… It has been years since we last went there… So around 2 pm we took for the afternoon in his convertible… We had it gassed up, dusted off and top down… So off we went…  Since we went to a number of places, I’m going to break this trip into a three post blog… Each place has something special about it…

Our first stop was Grafton… It is a Ghost town that can only be reached by following this little road… You have to be careful to watch for the signs, because it isn’t very big… Once we turned right, we came to the bridge… This is a one lane bridge… So if someone is crossing from the other direction, you have to wait your turn… But it wasn’t a biggie… We didn’t have that problem… Once you turn onto the road that goes to Grafton, you will drive about 10 minutes… You will eventually come to a part in the road where it is dirt… If it is raining, you won’t be able to make it through… It floods pretty easily since it is off the Virgin River… Soon enough you will come to a fork in the dirt road… If you go right, you will go to where the town once was… If you make a left, you will go to the cemetery .. Most of the town was wiped away from people dying from diphtheria  Typhoid fever or being killed by the Indians…

We went to the town area first… It sure has changed since we were last here… My daughters were still in high school in St. George… And now both are married and have kids… Yikes, where has the time gone? Once we got out of the car, there was a nice breeze… Not like we didn’t have a breeze anyhow since we had the top down on the car… This was a different kind… You could hear the leaves rustle and there was a sense of peace that you don’t get in the city… Not sure if there were ghosts there or not… If there was, they didn’t make it known…

A number of years ago, the buildings were being vandalized and since then, they have been restored and preserved… You can’t go into them like you use to be able to… But that was OK… Back then, if you stepped on the wrong place you might fall through the floor or have something fall on you… The first picture on the slideshow of of the buildings before the restoration… It is nice that they restored it… You can look into the windows and see what the school house and the main house looked like… There is a small house that you can walk into… The fireplace and walls are still in tack… I do wonder why the house has nails in the bricks on the outside… It looks like it was there from the time the house was built…

One of the pictures that I took I was standing by the front porch… It makes me wonder what they were thinking and seeing… They had had beauty all around them… Another picture was standing in the little one room house looking out the window… They had a great view of Zion National Park and the cows that probably were there at the time…

After we went through the main area of Grafton, we just stopped by one of the houses as you entered into the town… What was sad is that there is signs all over to not trespass .. It is pretty clear that you can look, but don’t go beyond the fence… This house looks like they are in the process of restoring… There were these people there that obviously didn’t know what it meant to look, but do not go into the house or onto the property… People like that ruin it for everyone…

I would like to add one thing that was pretty funny… As you may have read, Chuck cleaned his car… Needless to say, it could have just been left dusty, lol… His car was a mess after taking it on the dirt road to Grafton… His car is black and it showed everything… Too funny… I don’t think he was thinking it was funny…

Here is some info for you all about Grafton… I got this on Wikipedia…

Grafton is a ghost town, just south of Zion National Park in Washington County, Utah, United States. Said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West, it has been featured as a location in several films, including 1929’s In Old Arizona—the first talkie filmed outdoors—and the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The nearest inhabited town is Rockville.

The site was first settled in December 1859 as part of a southern Utah cotton-growing project ordered by Brigham Young (see Utah’s Dixie). A group from Virgin led by Nathan Tenney established a new settlement they called Wheeler. Wheeler didn’t last long; it was largely destroyed on the night of January 8, 1862 by a weeks-long flood of the Virgin River, part of the Great Flood of 1862. The rebuilt town, about a mile upriver, was named New Grafton, after Grafton, Massachusetts.

The town grew quickly in its first few years. There were some 28 families by 1864, each farming about an acre (0.4 hectare) of land. The community also dug irrigation canals and planted orchards, some of which still exist. Grafton was briefly the county seat of Kane County, from January 1866 to January 12, 1867,but changes to county boundaries in 1882 placed it in Washington County.

Flooding was not the only major problem. One particular challenge to farming was the large amounts of silt in Grafton’s section of the Virgin River. Residents had to dredge out clogged irrigation ditches at least weekly, much more often than in most other settlements. Grafton was also relatively isolated from neighboring towns, being the only community in the area located on the south bank of the river. In 1866, when the outbreak of the Black Hawk Warcaused widespread fear of Indian attacks, the town was completely evacuated to Rockville.

Continued severe flooding discouraged resettlement, and most of the population moved permanently to more accessible locations on the other side of the river. By 1890 only four families remained. The end of the town is usually traced to 1921, when the local branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was discontinued.The last residents left Grafton in 1944.

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