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Utah's Busiest Ghost Town?

View from the porch of the John and Ellen Wood Home in Grafton, Utah
The John and Ellen Wood Home, built in 1877 in Grafton, Utah

Light streams through the window and door of an old cabin in Grafton, Utah
View from inside one of the cabins in Grafton, Utah

You usually don't expect to see anyone in a ghost town. But visit Grafton, Utah and chances are you'll likely run into a few other curious tourists exploring this abandoned town. Grafton isn't just the most visited ghost town, but is also one of the best preserved ghost towns in Utah. Complete with a school house, several log cabin homes and an old cemetery straight out of a western film, it's definitely worth setting aside an hour or so to explore this historic place.

Located 8 miles south (about a 20 minute drive) from the southern entrance of Zion National Park, Grafton is an easy side trip. To get to Grafton, head to the town of Rockville on Highway 9. Once you're in Rockville, turn onto Bridge Road and follow it for about 5 miles. The last .75 miles the road turns to dirt and you'll see the Grafton cemetery appear on your left.

Several pioneer era headstones can be found in the Grafton Cemetery
One of several pioneer era headstones in the Grafton cemetery

The Grafton cemetery is the final resting place for 74-84 people. Some of the headstones are missing, so on one is exactly sure of the number buried here. The town of Grafton was settled in 1862 and by 1864 was home to 168 people. In 1866, however, 13 of the towns residents died due to a diphtheria epidemic, accidents and conflicts with Native Americans. Several of their headstones can still be found in this Cemetery.

In 1866 after Navajo raiders killed settlers near Colorado City, the residents of Grafton moved to Rockville for greater protection, abandoning the city for two years, but then returned in 1868 to resettle the town. Life continued in Grafton for many years until a canal was built in 1906 to deliver water from the Virgin River to the city of Hurricane. Once the canal was complete many of Grafton's residents moved to Hurricane, Utah, where the water was more plentiful and the farming a bit easier. The last resident left Grafton in 1945.

Built from lava rock, adobe bricks and timber, the schoolhouse is Grafton's largest structure
The Grafton School House and Church built in 1886

The largest structure in Grafton is the school house and church that was constructed in 1886. The structure is two stories and made of lava rock, quarried from a near-by hillside, and adobe bricks. The timber for the schoolhouse was brought from Mount Trumbull, a journey of over 75 miles, requiring Grafton's residents to haul the timber over the treacherous Arizona Strip.

Alonzo H Russell built this adobe home in 1862 and lived there until 1910
The Alonzo H Russell home was built circa 1862

While the schoolhouse is locked and can only be admired from the exterior, the other cabins made of adobe brick and logs are open and interesting to walk through. Most of the homes have root cellars, so bring a light if you want to explore them. While none of the structures have air conditioning, the adobe bricks do a good job of moderating the temperature in the cabins - it's fun to experience this old technology at work.

If you are looking for a quick break from hiking and sight seeing in Zion, Grafton is worth a stop for sure! If you found this article helpful, consider signing up for our e-mail list (simply go to the top of page and click subscribe - it's free!) to get the latest adventure posts. You can also sign up to be a member here to share your comments at the bottom of each post and in the forum - we'd love to hear about your visit to Grafton! Most importantly don't forget to get outside and find your adventure!

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