Bryce Canyon Ghost Town – The History


Bryce Canyon is a popular tourist destination and when you search for activities and places to visit, you will never run out of options to try. When you look for information online, for sure you will encounter the ghost town near Bryce which makes you wonder as to whether there is really a ghost town near such a beautiful place. But actually there is.

It is the Widtsoe town located in Utah and was first occupied in the early 19th century by Jedediah Adair. The first settler was known to be a successful farmer and eventually many people came to live in the area. The said town was initially known as Adairville. But it was renamed several times using the name of famous local leaders like for instance John R. Winder and John Houston. Eventually, it became Widtsoe from the name of the University of Utah president John Widtsoe. The town was named Widtsoe in 1917.

widtsoe ghost town 1
Photo Credit: qi lin on flickr

Come 1912, the town already had 2 hotels, post office, sawmills, 4 stores, a church and even a confectionery plant. Three years after, using water pipes, the locals were able to source out water from a spring. The US Forest Service was relocated to Widstoe. In 1919, there were about 1,100 people occupying the area.

But one year later, a famine occurred. The drought started to drive the farmers away. The Federal Resettlement Administration bought land from the landowners in 1936 and tore down the buildings. Two years after, the remaining residents left the town. Hence, it’s now called a ghost town.

That is why when you go to Widstoe, there are only a few homes, a church, school and cemetery. These are all that you can find in the used to be prospering town in the early 19th century.

Do you want to visit the ghost town? Widstoe is located in John’s Valley. It is about 16 mi. northeast of the Bryce Canyon National Park. The town is located near the East Fork of the Sevier River on Highway 22.

Please be reminded that visitors shouldn’t remove relics or debris when going to the town site.


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