Saturday, August 14, 2010


This weekend Greg was once again the patient husband and endured another of my "family history" obsession trips. This time to the town of Scofield.

When my Hunter ancestors moved here from Clackmannanshire, Scotland, most of the family settled here in Scofield - with the majority of the sons going to work in the Winter Quarters coal mine (located in the small canyon to the right).

This town is cursed - at least in my view. Most visitors to Scofield reservoir never see this town - it's located in the southern tip of the lake - away from all the loading docks and state parks. Officially it's registered as a Ghost Town with the state of Utah.

In May of 1900 - around 10:00 in the morning, a major explosion occurred in the mine - more than 200 men were dead - leaving 107 widows and 270 fatherless children. At the time it was the worst mining explosion in American History (now it's #5). My great-grandfather Hunter was the sole male survivor from his family and subsequently left Scofield forever.

You can still visit the mine site if you have the courage to hop intimidating fences and are willing to hike in about 2 miles. Pretty Girl is standing in front of fence #2 that we had to jump. Pay no attention to that red sign with the $1000 reward for trespassers...

Blasted, decaying buildings, and the foundations of unknown structures litter the site. I was impressed with the detailed stone work on this one.

Near the river bed, you can still see the old slag heaps from the mining activities. These slag beds are lethal to the landscape and environment. They have ruined fish supplies, valleys and homes all over the world. (Read How Green Was My Valley - unforgettable story).

If the mining explosion wasn't bad enough, from 1890 to 1920, epidemics swept through the region killing hundreds and hundreds of children. My great-grandfather Hunter lost 4 of his children in 1 month.

We ate lunch at the deserted and much-overgrown Scofield cemetery.

This cemetery is beyond depressing. And those of you who know me - you understand my love of cemeteries. Not here. There are hundreds of unmarked graves and 90% of the bodies are men who were killed in the mine or little babies who died during the epidemics.

Like I said - this town feels cursed.

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On a final, lighter note - the best part of the day was our return to Greg's car. He had been extremely nervous leaving his beloved FJ behind while our family scaled heavily posted "No Trespassing" gates and hiked a good distance away from viewing safety of the car.

I kept assuring Greg we'd be fine. Nobody would touch his car. I was wrong.

It took him 2 full water bottles to get the cow saliva off the car. Apparently cow saliva and car paint don't mix well...


Nicole said...

Rachael I loved LOVED this post - for many reasons, but one of them being I could your voice when I read the words. I miss you, your intelligence, and your wit!

Staci said...

It's true. I have been to Scofiels a number of times and have never come across this cemetery. Here's to adventures!

Jen T said...

That is an amazing story, sad, but amazing that you know it and can go there. Awesome. Love the cows loving Greg's car! Glad you got a picture of that!

leadatortilla said...

I really enjoyed hearing about your adventure in person - but seeing the pictures made it oh-so-real and more sad. I didn't know about the explosion - or the epidemics - wow. Also, gotta love the cars LOVING Greg's car.... they just wanted to love it as much as he does, I'm sure.

Hillary said...

Ok, it's a little creepy that you said this town is cursed! We went there back when I was in Jr. High or High school with some friends in our ward that have a cabin up there. There is an old school up there that basically was abandoned and run down. We decided to go in and explore it...well, while we were in there we started hearing the weirdest banging was me and my 3 sisters and our friend-he's a year older than me...all 5 of us got REALLY spooked and tore it outta there...there is something definitely weird about Scofield! :) The cows are pretty funny though, maybe that's who was making all the racket in the school!

Malina said...

Fascinating. Love the story and trip! Depressing cemeteries make me sad though.

kj said...

Many of Bill's ancestors died in the Schofield mine disaster too. We went through there on a family reunion. It was quite sobering.

Who knew tires could be so yummy? Great pics of the cows.