Long Forgotten Oasis on the High Plains- Modena, Utah

Posted: May 25, 2013 in Ghost Towns
Tags: , , ,

Utah-56 heads straight west out of Cedar City into some of the most  beautiful country I’ve ever seen…then again my idea of  “beautiful country” may be different than that of most. Utah-56 is a shimmering belt of two lane blacktop, now faded to gray that crosses rolling hills dotted with cedar, broken up here and there by red sandstone formations before dropping into a wide basin or park of green ranch land as far as the eye can see, bordered far in the west by the arid sandy mountains that mark the border with Nevada.

This quiet part of Utah is “my” type of place- great views in every direction, fresh air, and only the sound of the wind, or a lonely semi truck far off in the distance break the silence in this part of the world.   There are a few wide spots in the road where a traveler can stop, stretch their legs, buy a pack of smokes and a gallon of gas- but be prepared to be given the old “hairy eyeball”  from the local cowboys lingering around the lunch counter cussing at the outdated TV clumsily mounted high on the adjacent wall. It’s clear not too many people pass through this part of Utah, and those who do bring a little excitement and gossip for the locals.

On the far edge of this expanse, just before the Nevada border I reached my destination- The ghost town of Modena.  Modena was surprisingly more alive than any information I could find indicated. After a couple hours on the road without seeing another vehicle, I pulled into Modena thinking I would have the town to myself.  To my surprise,  just as I reached the railroad crossing leading into Modena, a Union Pacific train came speeding by, blaring it’s horn.  Here I was, in the middle of nowhere waiting for a train to pass!

After the train disappeared over the ridge, I began to shoot some pics of the great old storefront and Lund Hotel.  Then, again, to my surprise, I found I wasn’t alone.  An oldish woman emerged from a distant house down the street and leaned over the fence, staring at me as she smoked a cigarette.  I waved, but she just continued to puff away and stare.  Then a mangy looking dog ran down the street and disappeared into an abandoned shed. The oldish woman kept staring and smoking.

I finished up taking my pics, and waved goodbye to the oldish woman, she just stared…and smoked.  As I pulled back on to the interstate a Dodge truck slowly rolled down the dusty main street of Modena, kicking up a cloud.  The oldish woman disappeared back into her house. The dog barked.

Modena was an interesting place.

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  1. awesome story and photos

  2. Angela Shino says:

    Love this. I want to go. It’s towns like this that make me remember why I love shows that entail NO technology whatsoever. Your write ups are truly awesome.

  3. Mr. E says:

    Wonder if I’m still the only person “recently known” to be born there, at home- 1971 (actually in a truck, I think).

  4. Tommie says:

    Have you been to Frisco? The abandoned mining town in Utah? It’s an amazing place. It is fully abandoned. The houses are still standing. Cloth as wall paper to keep insolated. Broken down and full of history. The mine collapsed killing most if the men, leaving the women and children alone. Eventually they all moved from the mines. The smell of sopher thickens the air in summer. I would recommend early fall or spring (if you’ve not already visited). I live close to both places but only learned about Modena after reading this story. My weekend plans of exploration now have a destination. Thank you for sharing your experience and memory.

  5. Dorothy Howard says:

    Thanks I visited there a few years ago and I took lots of pictures of the old buildings. There was a old truck siting in the hills. I took a picture of it and painted it. It is an oil. I named it “Out of gas” If you would like to see it send me your email and I will send you a picutre.

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