Just west of the Colorado border lies the incredible ghost town of Cisco, Utah. Cisco is a fairly large ghost town with many abandoned structures, some from the early 1900s, and some from recent years. It is totally accessible and has no signs forbidding trespassing.
The drive from the Ludlow, Colorado Ghost Town to Cisco, Utah ghost town took up most of the remaining daylight hours. By the time I arrived, the sun had already touched the horizon. I explored as much as I could in the waning light before it became pitch dark outside. Without another soul for miles in any direction, I decided the Utah ghost town would be a perfect place to spend the night.
Cisco, Utah has a robust history that dates back to the late 1800s. The town was first established as a watering stop for steam engines operated by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The station became an important shipping depot for the cattle ranchers and sheepherders from the nearby Book Cliffs.
An increasing number of work crews and travelers passed through town and restaurants, stores, bars and hotels were built to meet the growing demand.
The town’s economy was spurred on by the discovery of oil and natural gas in 1924. It became such a thriving industry that Cisco was, for a time, Utah’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.
The switch from coal-powered steam locomotives to diesel engines in the 1950s spelled trouble for Cisco because it meant that trains would no longer need to stop to replenish water supplies.
Fortunately, the mid-1900s saw an increase in car ownership in the US, reinforcing Cisco’s role as a stopping point for travelers crossing the harsh desert.
Another boon to the local economy occurred when uranium and vanadium were discovered nearby, drawing thousands of prospectors.
It wasn’t long before the period of ore discovery died down and much of the population moved away. The final blow to Cisco’s declining economy occurred with the construction of the Interstate system. In a fate similar to many of the abandoned towns I’ve visited, I-70 completely bypassed Cisco, depriving local businesses of the traffic that had been essential to their existence.
One of the last businesses in Cisco was a gas station/restaurant, whose owner went to jail for shooting a man who drove off without paying for his gas. The gas station owner’s wife took over the business and ran it poorly, allegedly keeping the door locked and only serving customers when she felt like it.
She had a large bad-tempered dog that frequently bit customers. It is said that if the customer got upset or kicked the dog, she turned them away, but if they kept a cool head, she would serve them.
Many of the buildings were in an advanced state of decay.
Some appeared incredibly old and were constructed entirely of wood.
Miscellaneous car parts and mattress springs were a common sight in the abandoned houses.
Quite a few rusting vehicles had made Cisco, Utah their final resting place, including an abandoned bus,
quite a few abandoned cars,
and several RVs.
After the sun disappeared, the only source of light as far as the eye could see were three light posts near the railroad tracks. Occasionally a train passed by, its three bright headlights slicing through the darkness, and once in a great while, a car sped past on the lonely stretch of highway along Cisco’s northern border.
The next morning, I woke with the sun and immediately set out to finish exploring the abandoned buildings of Cisco, Utah.
A gas station appeared to have been abandoned long ago, judging by the severity of its decay.
Houses spread out over the large swath of land were slumped in various states of ruin.
Some still contained artifacts left by their former inhabitants.
I spotted what looked like mine entrances, which turned out to be very old cellars that were still fairly intact.
A little house with a satellite dish looked as though it was very recently inhabited.
Without thinking, I opened the refrigerator and a horrible moldy odor instantly infused the air. I held my breath and got the hell out of there.
Only one house had any indication that someone might still be living there. It was quite large with several additions. The porch light was on; I hadn’t noticed it the previous night because it was set away from most of the ghost town’s crumbling abandoned homes. I kept a respectful distance.
Several modern trailer homes stood nearby. One of them was being used for storage, and contained shelves full of mysterious unmarked bottles.
The other looked like it had housed a small family somewhat recently.
The appliances and cabinetry were still intact.
It even had a Jacuzzi.
An emergency fire plan was tacked up beside the front door.
And one corner of the place was badly scorched by a fire that might have driven the residents out.
One of Cisco’s most notable landmarks is the tiny post office. It is incredibly small and contains only a desk and a chair.
There are plenty of other interesting artifacts lying around too.
The stunning photos were taken by Jim Sullivan. Jim Sullivan is a traveler, who shares his stories with followers. If you’d like to see more abandoned places in America, then check out our articles on the Abandoned Paradise: the Salton Sea Beach and the Abandoned Riverside Hospital of Toledo, Ohio