Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

If you take the dirt road northeast out of Thompson Springs, Utah a few old signs will point the way to Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego.  As you enter the canyon ancient rock drawings and paintings can be seen on the canyon walls, some estimated to be over 6,000 years old. Native American lore says these are drawings of the “star people” who visited earth in the distant past giving us simple creatures knowledge, and once you’ve seen them, you’ll have to admit, the figures depicted look otherworldly.

A short distance beyond the rock drawings the dirt road branches, the right fork takes you past the Sego Cemetery and on into the canyon where the remains of the town can be found. Sego was a coal mining town settled largely by Italians around the turn of the last century.  Taking the the other fork of the road leads you up the canyon to a fence and signs that indicates the boundary of the Ute Indian Reservation and warns you not to enter.

Sego Canyon is one of my favorite places. I couldn’t help but sense an “energy” the whole time I was in the canyon- hard to explain, but there was just a different feeling about this place.  People have come to, lived, and left this isolated canyon in Utah for 6,000+ years. Maybe the energy I felt is what has drawn human types to this place for so long.  There’s not many people here today though, just the occasional tourist, or local on their way to or from somewhere. Sego’s population today seems to be composeed almost entirely of lizards. I was amazed at how many different shapes and sizes I saw, all differently colored and marked, and with every footstep another would scurry past.

I enjoyed Sego Canyon so much that I stopped there twice on one road trip, and I can’t wait to return to Sego.  Well worth a visit to anyone who finds themselves in the area, but a word of caution- if it rains be prepared, the road to Sego is crisscrossed with washes and just a little rain will turn this desert road into a tricky situation for 2-wheel drive vehicle like I found out.

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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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Cisco, Utah is just down the road, along the pock marked and pot holed remnants of old Highway 6, from Thompson Springs.  You can hit both towns in a half an hour or less, and you’ll probably be the only person in both- Everyone else speeds by on Interstate 70, either on the way to or from Salt Lake City, Las Vegas or Denver.  These days there is no other reason to find yourself in this desolate hellscape of  Utah.  Nothing grows here, except for sharp things- cacti, thistles, shrubs, tamarisks. Very little lives here except for a dazzling array of reptiles- multicolored lizards of all shapes and sizes and  few rattlesnakes…although the only one I have seen in my trips was dead, laying across the road.  A few antelope roam the bluffs, and will stop just long enough to allow the visitor to snap a quick photo before disappearing into the next draw or ravine. Then there are the people who still hang on here.  I’ve never seen them, but in both Cisco and Thompson Springs, there are inhabited dwellings- A falling down shack with boarded up windows and a shiny new satellite dish. A distant trailer house with a new Dodge truck.  A well manicured green lawn with a sprinkler serves as a welcome oasis in this dry, dusty, wind swept corner of Utah.  But strangely, no people.  It is clear people still live here, but they can not be seen.  Perhaps they don’t want to be seen, so I respect that wish and never probe to deep, and I steer well clear of any inhabited looking property.  But I still wonder who they are and what they do here?  There is nothing in this place. A hundred years ago Cisco and Thompson Springs served as rail sidings and waterholes for the old Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  In the first half of the 20th Century they were stops along old Highway 6, and there was an Amtrak station in Thompson- food, fuel and lodging for weary travelers during they heyday of the great American “road trip”.  Those days are long gone, and with them went Cisco and Thompson. But today, in one stop, you can visit the 1890’s and the 1950’s- Both Cisco and Thompson are littered with falling down buildings of both eras.  Abandoned cars and machinery dot the horizon around the towns. In one direction all you see is the 1800’s, turn around and it’s the 1950’s.  Strange places.  If you pass through Cisco, take a minute to locate the 1890’s era Post Office. (Pictured at the very bottom)cisco7 cisco6 cisco5 cisco4 cisco3 cisco2 cisco1