Monday, October 17, 2011

GHOSTS GHOST TUESDAY!!!! - HiaWAtHA, Utah

Usually this first paragraph is reserved for my prattling on about something or another in order to try to set the mood of the post. But in this case I'm just going to post this.....



I think that creates the mood I'm going for. For you see, the ghost town of Hiawatha isn't completely abandoned after all. There are a few residents left.......THE GHOSTS!!!

Also the polygamists. But the ghosts are the ones to worry about.

The tale of Hiawatha is much like the other towns we have already looked at. Mining was discovered, mining occurred, mining died out, mines become homes to bears, bears are scary. But what is different about Hiawatha is what the brave miners were looking for. Instead of shiny golds, proud silvers, and inept copper, the goal here was coal. Lots of coal. Here it is now...



Coal is good. Well, not if you are the environment. But it's good for humans. We use it to make all sorts of things happen. Without coal, you wouldn't be able to see old fashioned trains work. We probably use it for other things, but I'm not here to educate you about coal. I'm not here to do anything other than burn away the work hours. You should already know this.

The story of Hiawatha begins with the story of Carbon County (Utah, duh). Carbon County Utah produces a huge amount of coal. If fact, let's take a gander at the name "Carbon County". Carbon is coal! Well, sort of. Mostly. Sometimes there's other stuff in there, but it's mostly carbon. That is the reason that Carbon County isn't named....something other than Carbon County. Commercial quantities of coal are easy to find 'round those parts, that's what I'm saying. Carbon County is here....


The coal reserves of Carbon County have been known since the early settlers moved into the place. It sticks out of the ground here and there, and sometimes you can find old leaf impressions in the coal! That's pretty cool. Or should I say...that's pretty COAL!!! HAHAHAHAhahaaaa! I've stolen a few seconds of your life. Anyway, if you're going to be a huge coal producing community, it stands to reason that you would have a huge coal miner statue. And lo, it was so....



Hiawatha was a town established in the foothills of Gentry Mountain. In 1909, some grizzled ol' prospector was poking around an abandoned ranch and found a nice big bunch of coal that we could dig out of the hill and do various things with. Coal was a hot commodity back in the day, so it didn't take long for the mine to really take off.



I put that picture in there just to make sure you were still awake. By 1911, the town had tricked nearly 500 people into believing that it was a good place to live. What's more, like two amoebas locked in eternal battle, the town of Hiawatha took over another nearby village named Blackhawk and consumed it in 1915.



The whole operation was owned by the United States Fuel Company. I took a cool picture of the company sign, still located on what used to be the main office building. Here it is!



I should point out that I went to Hiawatha at night, so that actually is a picture of the company sign. Nature hates when we take pictures of it at night. So here's a picture of the sign I found on the internet.



Look how confident that monarch is! He knows you will buy his coal. What choice do you have? Anyway, that picture should let you know that the town is still largely intact. Many of the buildings are still there, and a few folks still call the place home.

The town swelled to nearly 1,500 brave souls by the early 1940's, and the mine was really pumping out the black chunky goodness that is coal. The company built a good number of concrete apartment houses, a church, a school, stores, bathhouse and other such things.



Here's a couple of the gents now, standing next to one of those coal-less automobiles.



The town started to putter out in the 1950's when coal prices dropped. By 1960 the population was down to 440, and by 1990 a mere 43 people called it home. Once a town drops below 50 people, nobody really counts anymore. When I was out there I would place the population at about, oh, 12. And several cats. Dozens of cats. An unnerving number of cats.

Now, let's get to the halloween part of this madness. As we've seen, I was out there at night. Night is when the ghosts are out and about, and I was looking for ghosts. My first stop was the old company warehouse and store.





Here it is in Spookovision!



What is that mysterious black spot hovering above the building??? A ghost? A wraith? A skeleton pirate? Nope, just the moon. This building was supposed to be home to at least 5 different wandering souls (according to this kid who was wearing a robe and wandering nearby) who showed up the night before and were scary and stuff. He also told me that taking pictures in negative form would show me more ghosts (so I did that a lot). Would we be as lucky/unlucky to see a ghost? The presence of this highly animated skeleton puppet seems to be a good sign...



Here's the thing. The building is very much the way it was back when it was filled coal-motivated folks. Work benches were still in place, oil stains still occupied the floor, and the door was still a huge novelty clown face.



Upon entering, you encounter this delightful little critter.



It popped out of this equally delightful box.



While both those things are terrifying, both objects are not likely ghosts. Boxes rarely leave behind ghosts, regardless of how terrifyingly they left this world. This is the only picture I took that had any sort of....unexplained mysteryness.



See it? What the devil is that???? I actually don't know. But let's look at some of my earlier posts. It almost seems to match the Charlie Brown Type of ghost...




Spooky. As geologists, we must always keep our minds open to the possibility of ghosts. I'm not sure why though. Either way, let's get out of there. That place be haunted.



Our next stop was one of the old boarding houses a litter further to the west (behind the washing machine)...





(here's another picture in spookyovision)



The most striking feature of this probably haunted house (other than the clothes washer), is the presence of an abandoned minivan in the front yard. Or is it abandoned?



Nope. There's a kitty cat in the back seat. Ah well. Moving along, we find ourselves outside the old mine bath house.










Those baskets would hold all the old miner's toiletry items. In fact, most of them still hold the miner's old toiletry items. But here's the thing about hanging a bunch of metal baskets from the ceiling. It's really really scary looking. Take a picture of it in the negative, and look out, you've got a haunted (not really) house on your hands.



Enough of the bath house. Let's get on with the main attraction. The main boarding house.



Again, it was nighttime. But if you expand that picture you can actually see the place! I say you go ahead and do it! There are quite a few stories about this place, so I'm going to add another picture. Here we go...



One story tells that they used to bring orphans in to work in the mines (this would obviously be before child labor laws), and that several died while under the employment of the company. When an orphan dies, you better believe that something's going to be haunted because of it. There have been several reported sightings of a little girl ghost running around in this place, particularly looking out the upper windows...



and standing on the main stairway...



I didn't see any ghost. Should we switch to ghost cam? !



Nothing. Well, a couple of weird black streaks. I don't think they are ghosts though. But who knows? Maybe this place is haunted by a bunch of snake ghosts. So many questions, so little interest in answering them. Let's poke around a little more...







If you like debris, then this place is for you. No ghosts though. Or at least none that my high-tech ghost cam could pick up (phone camera).

Well, nothing more to report. The place is probably haunted, but what isn't nowadays? Ghosts are everywhere. They are in your cereal, in your toilets, in your laundry, everywhere. Are there ghosts watching you right now???? Probably not. You're not that interesting.

4 comments:

Monyca said...

Bill Nye has nothing up on you Scott. I think that you should start your own PBS "science" show. I would tune in.

Jim Dalrymple said...

HI, my name is Jim Dalrymple. I'm a reporter with the Salt Lake Tribune. I'm working on a post for our website about Haiawatha and I'm trying to find people who have been there in the last few years. In the process of searching I came across this blog post. If you'd be willing to talk please contact me at jdalrymple@sltrib.com. Thanks!

Touche said...

Jim, Did your article about Hiawatha ever show up in the Newspaper?

CRAZY CAKES said...

I find this article very interesting. I used to live in Hiawatha and I know who the van belongs to and also the washer. I've actually have seen ghosts there before and my mom has felt them and seen them. We have seen the little girl in the boarding house.