"Ghosts" Thompson Springs by goodfish
Thompson Springs Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 21 photos
Once upon a time, there was a town...
It grew, as remote outposts often do, beside a ribbon of steel that brought in all that the settlers couldn't provide for themselves and carried away to market that which they could spare. Cattle ranged the sparse, arid valley at the foot of towering buttes, and a nearby pocket of coal fueled both the belching, iron horses screeching daily into the station and local bank accounts. Shanties and trestles sprouted among sego lilies and sagebrush in the canyon where a shaman dabbled haunting figures in a sheltered alcove thousands of years ago, and his ancestors etched picture stories of auspicious hunts.
After WWII travelers motoring between Grand Junction and points west stopped for cherry pie and coffee at the cafe or a night's rest at one of the motels. Railroad men and miners kept the saloon and pool hall busy, and their wives marketed the handful of stores. Children played in the creek, learned their lessons at the little school, and their catechism at mama's knees.
But fate wasn't kind to Thompson Springs. The mines struggled with water repeatedly washing away the tracks or becoming too scarce to clean the coal. Steam engines were converted from burning fossil fuel to diesel, hammering the final nail in the coffin of Sego Canyon mining and the settlement there. In the 1970's, construction of Interstate 70 routed motorists - and their wallets - south of town and by 1994 passenger trains were rumbling on by what had been a whistlestop on the line for over a century. The station was shuttered; motels and cafe closed; people faded away leaving tumble-down homes, empty-eyed storefronts and piles of broken glass; shattered dreams glistening in the blinding desert light.
- Pros:Close to excellent pictograph/petroglyph panels and a ghost town
- Cons:Absolutely nothing else to do.
Another mile down the road and you'll see what's left of Sego. Originally called Ballard after the rancher who... more travel advice
This is what you leave the interstate for (see previous tip)... At the mouth of Sego Canyon (in the Book Cliffs area)... more travel advice
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