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I undertook this entire expedition using nothing but the Utah Transit Authority's bus and TRAX commuter rail routes. It actually only took me the better part of one evening to plan this entire trip. Granted, it did have its set backs. I wasn't able to reach every destination I wanted to, but I was still able to make the trip memorable. Plenty of interesting happenings...well, happened. And they are told within this regaling of my second urban exploration trip of 2015.

This trip actually came close to being canceled. The morning I departed for the trip, I noticed that my eye had become incredibly swollen. I'm still not entirely sure what caused it, or if it was even anything of concern. The issue ended up resolving itself a couple days later so I don't believe it was a bacterial infection. Probably just allergies. But to conceal my not so attractive flaw, I dawned a pair of sunglasses for the duration of the trip. And I just realized that the correct word was “donned”, but whatever. I don't feel like going back and correcting it.

Getting back on topic, I left in the early morning on April 11. My first destination was supposed to be an abandoned paper mill, which would involve just one bus transfer, onto the ski bus heading to Alta (which was another one of my destinations). When the ski bus arrived I was actually told by the bus driver that the day pass I had purchased the day before didn't work on ski buses because they were specialty buses paid for by the ski resorts. The bus driver spotted me the difference because of the confusion and because it was the last day of the bus's run anyway so it all worked out. When I arrived at my stop I realized that the old paper mill was actually about a half mile from the bus stop. This wouldn't have been a problem except I would have had to walk along Wasatch Boulevard, with no sidewalk, to reach it. While risking life and limb was tempting, I decided against it and just took the bus up to Alta.

Alta is a very quaint resort town nestled in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range, which is the westernmost portion of the Rocky Mountains. Once home to over 6,000 silver miners, Alta was known as one of the most violent and wicked places in the West when it was booming in the early 1870s. Places such as the Goldminer's Daughter Saloon were notorious for the violent crimes that took place there. During the winter the miners would find their favorite places of business buried in snow, and they used to dig a unique tunnel system between the businesses. They reputedly also dug a tunnel to the cemetery every year due to the amount of violent crimes that took place there.

So yeah, Alta was a pretty violent place back in the day, but today it's a very quiet ski village. Only about two hundred people call Alta home these days but it still has a town government, a small police force, and a historical society. I spent about an hour just wandering around town with my camera, snapping pictures and enjoying the beautiful scenery. The Wasatch Mountains were very beautiful at this time of the year. The snow hadn't completely melted yet and it was just absolutely gorgeous. I really enjoy being in the outdoors, and that is one of the reasons why. The simple beauty of nature.

I stopped for lunch at the Goldminer's Daughter ski lodge, named for the notoriously wicked Goldminer's Daughter Saloon. The lodge was actually built very near the spot where the saloon stood. The website says that the Goldminer's Daughter Saloon “is said to have embodied a similar atmosphere to the current lodge, cozy, down to earth, and unpretentious.” You can imagine my disappointment when I didn't see a single murder there. No gunfire, no smashing of bottles, no flying fists. Not even a simple shouting argument. What a shame.

Regardless of the mild conditions, the food was great. I had the pancakes and bacon, you know, your traditional miner's breakfast. Once that was finished I left and took some photos of the old Main Street of town, which, sadly, no longer has the plethora of flimsy fire-prone wood structures it had back in the town's glory days. It's just a flat spot now. Again, what a shame.

My next stop was the small town hall building, which doubles as a tiny library managed by the aforementioned Alta Historical Society. They gave me full access to the library under the condition that I turn off the lights when I'm done and to leave everything as I found it. There were some great references in there and the librarian gave me the names of a couple reference materials that weren't up in the library. I still haven't checked those out yet. I've been incredibly busy. You know how it is.

I didn't spend as much time in the library as I wanted to, as I had a time schedule to keep and the next bus was to arrive within a few minutes. I thanked the gracious librarian and headed off to my next destination. This one would involve a little more travel and a short mile-long hike, but hey, exercise is good for you. In an area now known as South Jordan sits a small, unassuming stone foundation in a park that's not much bigger. This small stone foundation was much more than a small stone foundation back in the day. It was once a small hotel for a small railroad community called Smallsville that had small people, small portions of food, and small small things.

With that terrible joke out of my system the town's actual name was Welby. It was a small railroad settlement that served the railroad that still runs through the area. Once located on the outskirts of the Salt Lake metro area, urban development in the last twenty years caused the little ghost town to be swallowed up by the city limits of South Jordan. Not to worry though; the Daughters of Utah Pioneers commissioned Welby Historic Park (or something like that) and the one ruin left in town is saved. There's also a historical marker that gives a brief description of Welby's history. It's not much longer than my own description but it's worth a look because it's right there.

My final destination was Fort Douglas. I actually thought about going into the army reserves right after I left high school. If I had ever been officially recruited, there's a chance I could have been assigned to Fort Douglas, for there is still a small military base there. Most of it, however, is an open air museum managed by the University of Utah. U of U is right next door and has actually eaten up some of the army garrison's former land to build student housing. At least some of the old camp has been preserved. It's actually really cool; there's an old piece of the World Trade Center tower on display at the museum along with some old military equipment. You can still see the parade grounds (which were being used as a soccer field when I was there).

And now we reach the conclusion of my Salt Lake transit expedition. Up until this point, nothing particularly interesting had happened on my bus and TRAX train rides. One bus driver did stop for about thirty seconds while I snapped some photos at one of the bus stops (nice guy) but other than that nothing particularly special happened until my return home.

Believe me, I've ridden my fair share of buses, TRAX trains, and the FrontRunner. Even most of my rides there were very business-as-usual with nothing interesting happening. This ride was a lot different. The first thing I noticed when I boarded this last bus home was that it smelled very badly. You could tell the bus had been on run all day and throughout the day had accumulated the smells of sweat, farts, and what I could only assume was the faint stench of ammonia. I would gladly sniff the butt of my cat before smelling the stench of that bus again.

Sitting in one of the seats was a man dressed like royalty. Or like a wizard. I later (way later) saw an article about this old guy dressing up like a wizard and volunteering for the Salvation Army near my neighborhood so it could have been him. He acted very important and when he got off the bus either he or the bus driver did some sort of fan fare thing. It was really awesome. Thus ended my second trip of 2015.
Journeys Into The Forgotten: Transit Expedition
Part 2 of my 24 part autobiographical series. Enjoy the tale of the day I visited several historic sites and towns across Salt Lake County using nothing but the county's transit system.
Our first destination on the Gold Hill expedition was Delle. We visited Delle on March 13, just a day before my 21st birthday. We only stopped here briefly because our main destination that day was Wendover, but we stopped long enough to get some good photos. There really isn't much left of the told town, just an old motel and a couple of homes, but there is an active gas station at the site. I honestly think there are more dogs than people in town, though. We saw about three or four dogs in one backyard alone. They barked at us the entire time we were there. Probably because they're not used to outsiders wandering through their town.

Delle is a former railroad town that was abandoned by the railroad but adopted by the old highway. Then it was abandoned again when I-80 zipped on through. But like I said, there is a pretty active gas station at the site, so although the town of Delle may be very sleepy, the gas station is pretty busy, so Delle will probably never die. It's one of the last gas stations before you hit the salt flats on the way to Wendover. If you really need to fill up on gas, but pass this gas station, good luck getting stranded on the flats. Hopefully you fare better than the Donner Party did.

Sadly, my first night in Wendover was not filled with wild drinking and gambling fun. See, I was still a day shy of 21. Though come to think of it, I wasn't ID'd once in the casino when I was of legal age, so I probably could have gotten away with it...

The next day, we traveled to our next destination. One of Utah's most isolated little towns. An old mining town called Gold Hill. Gold Hill, as its name suggests, was an old gold mining town that existed three times, once in the 1800s, once in the first few decades of the 1900s, and once during World War II. Several ghost towns in Utah see these boom and bust cycles without actually officially dying. And obviously Gold Hill is one of those towns.

We started our journey by exploring downtown Gold Hill, which now consists only of the Goodwin Mercantile building (now defunct), a large metal storage structure being used by a local rancher, a little red building that may have been the town's post office at one point and is now being used as a residence, and a few abandoned buildings and foundations (including the old mill foundation up on a hill). So I shouldn't use the exclusive term “only”, because there actually is quite a lot to see on old Main Street.

We headed south and continued to explore Gold Hill. The farther south we got, the fewer actual ruins we found. Don't get me wrong, there was still plenty of stuff out there, but less solid buildings and more foundations and/or relics were found in this part of town. One of the town's residents watched us for a few moments before ducking back behind the blinds. I'm guessing they don't get many outsiders. It was actually kind of creepy, come to think of it.

Off the main road are the ruins of 19th century Gold Hill. Everything else we had seen up until this point had been relics of the 20th century operations, mostly from Gold Hill's second boom in the 1910s. I don't have any documentation that proves these were 19th century, but I've been around the block enough times to be able to differentiate between the crude stone construction typical of the 19th century and the more refined architecture of the early 20th century. There were only two structures from this time period, and I'm pretty sure that's all that's left of this part of town.

Also located in this area was an old outhouse. When the 19th century town was booming, the town grew so fast that new mineral “strikes” were made right in the middle of the streets. The town's second incarnation did not know what to do with these old mine holes at first, but they came up with an ingenious, albeit weird, solution. They built their outhouses over them. I mean, come on, a pre-dug hole for your crap? What else could you ask for? Must not have smelled nice in old Gold Hill, though.

After visiting the oldest part of town, we headed back up Main Street, snapping a few more photos of the mercantile and post office, before continuing up the north part of the street. Up here we found the ruins of an old barber shop. The barber pole is even still there, but the colors have long since faded away. Gold Hill is a good hour's drive from the nearest town, which happens to be Wendover. In fact, Gold Hill's residents use Wendover's zip code. And one of the old roads will lead you to the Pony Express trail, so there's that. There's another ghost town south of Gold Hill called Clifton, but we weren't able to reach this ghost town because it's on a really crummy road.

Gold Hill is one of Utah's best preserved ghost towns. And it's never been a complete ghost town. Probably about twenty people live there today, but they're very shy (or creepy, I haven't decided which yet), so use caution when approaching them. Don't look them directly in the eyes, approach slowly, let them come to you. Maybe bring a snack that they can eat out of your hand. (now who's being the creeper?)

And now I can regale you with the tale of my first time drinking and gambling. OK, fine, not my first time drinking. But my first time drinking and gambling. I brought along $200 to gamble with and I started with the penny slots. Because, you know, I could spend a lot of time there. And who knows, maybe I would win a jackpot. Which I did.

After winning 68 cents I decided to try something more profitable. I was tempted to go for the quarter slots, but my dad suggested that he and I do the nickel slots together. Dad's machine paid out quite handsomely (lucky ducky), but mine sucked $20 from me. I played again, and managed to win my money back and like an extra 75 cents. Even that was more profitable than the penny slots.

That's when I went for the quarter slots. I actually managed to win quite a bit of money here. I got a decent sized jackpot and managed to pull an $80 profit (the jackpot itself was $100). Any smart gambler would know to call it quits there, which I did. I said goodbye to the slots and went straight for the $20 blackjack tables. Yes, $20. Per game. I thought, “Hm, maybe I could win even bigger here.” I also considered poker, but there was this guy with a gigantic stack of chips sitting at the only poker table that wasn't fully occupied, so I didn't exactly like my chances with that.

I sat down at the blackjack table with my winnings and the dealer dealt my first hand. It was a winner! Twenty extra bucks to Jonboy. A couple vacationers (who seemed more than a little buzzed) sat at the table with me and we struck up a conversation. They bought me a mixed drink that I can't remember the name of and we just had a great time. Except I then managed to lose my next four hands, leaving me with just $20 left. I won my hand then, and I should have walked away, because I ended up losing five more hands. I could have walked away with $80 extra bucks that night, but instead I pulled a major loss. And here I thought I was good at blackjack.

We headed home the next day, but first we stopped at a couple other ghost towns. The next ghost town we stopped at was another ghost town along I-80 called Rowley. Much like Delle, Rowley was a highway town. Sort of like that 50s cliché town with the restaurant that has the jukebox that plays beep bop tunes and where greasers wearing leather jackets snap their fingers, flick their switchblades in and out of their sheaths, and get in fights. OK so it wasn't exactly like that, but it was a pretty active place in the 1950s. It was used as a truck stop just in case the trucks didn't want to stop in Delle. Don't know why they wouldn't want to stop there, though. It wasn't like it was dirty or anything. Sadly, there's nothing left of Rowley. The magnesium plant now operating at the former town site made sure of that. There used to be an old sign that advertised the fact that diesel fuel could be purchased there, but it's also been demolished. A pile of rubble is the only legacy that old Rowley has left behind.

The last ghost town we saw on this trip was Iosepa. Iosepa, the Hawaiian word for Joseph, was a farm town established by LDS faithfuls from Hawaii in the early 20th century. The church was instrumental in the town's establishment and maintenance. Unfortunately, the town was never self-sufficient which led to its downfall several years after it was established. The town was never fully abandoned until an LDS temple was completed in Hawaii. The remaining townsfolk migrated back to the islands and left Iosepa abandoned.

On the way to Iosepa and back, we drove past a dead cow that was stiff as a board. Rigor mortis. There are several homes from the original town still left along the old highway, and a cemetery can be reached by climbing the hill near town. We didn't see the cemetery but we did get some good photos of the homes. There's also a former service station on the left side of the road that now serves as a storage building for a nearby farm. The area continues to be an active farming region, but few people live there now and none of them are Hawaiian.

It's a neat little town for neat little explorers. If you're interested in the Pony Express, the old trail runs near town, so that's worth checking out. Apparently the ancestors of the former residents of Iosepa come here every year for some sort of gathering. It's actually a really neat concept, though I've never seen the gathering myself. Maybe I'll go someday just to have that experience.
Journeys Into The Forgotten: Gold Hill Expedition
Introducing my new autobiographical series, Journeys Into The Forgotten. This series will detail my adventures as I explore the settlements that made Utah what it is today but have been forgotten by time. While some of the details are exaggerated for entertainment purposes, most of them are genuine experiences that I have had. I hope you enjoy what I hope will be a very entertaining series.

I visited Gold Hill in March of 2015. This was my first of two dozen expeditions carried out in 2015. 
Promontory: 1869 - 2015 by Raptorguy14
Promontory: 1869 - 2015
The photo on the left is an 1869 photo of the town of Promontory, located in Box Elder County, Utah. Promontory was the site of the Golden Spike ceremony, which marked the completion of the nation's first transcontinental railroad. The photo on the right is of the same view 146 years later, on the anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony. 
Gold Hill, Utah by Raptorguy14
Gold Hill, Utah
An overview of the small town of Gold Hill, located over an hour from Wendover, the closest sizable community. Due to its isolation, much of the town is well preserved. Though it's a pain in the neck to reach, Gold Hill is definitely worth a visit for ghost town enthusiasts in Utah and Nevada.
About seventy years ago, Spring Canyon, located just off of US Route 6 near Helper, Utah, was alive with activity. Heavy steam locomotives brought thousands of tons of coal out of the canyon on a daily basis and six mining camps were bustling with activity. The canyon was the picture of modernism; high-tech mining methods were used to extract the coal from the seams in the mountains. The mining towns also had many modern amenities such as asphalt roadways, electricity, and underground plumbing and watering systems. Over 4,000 people called the canyon home. 

Just ten years after the end of the war, as alternative energy sources were explored, the need for coal decreased drastically. Most of the mines by this time had been exhausted and closed down, but a few of the larger mines continued small scale production into the 1960s. These mines were ultimately shut down because they became too large to safely maintain and were closed down after the passing of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

Today, Spring Canyon has become a shell of its former self. Though the sands of time have begun to reclaim the mining camps and mines, dozens of ruins and abandoned mines line the canyon walls for several miles. My second official photo series (the first one being my Intermountain Indian School series [check that out if you haven't already]) is dedicated to the history of this canyon. By publishing this photo series, I hope to preserve the canyon's legacy as well as to promote the exploration and preservation of historic locations such as this one.


Raptorguy14's Profile Picture
Artist | Hobbyist | Photography
United States
When it comes to art, I mostly focus on writing and photography, but I do have a little experience in painting and drawing. I've been taking photographs for about seven years, but I made it into a more serious hobby about five years ago when I bought my first camera. I've been drawing and painting off and on for about seven years, but I've never gotten particularly serious about either. Finally, I've been writing for over a decade, and have become quite adept at it. I've lived in the Western United States all my life, and the farthest east I've ever been is Nebraska. I'm open to taking photo requests, so if you want a photo taken anywhere in the Western United States, feel free to contact me and I'll see what I can do!

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WayneBenedet Featured By Owner May 7, 2014

Thank you for the :+fav:  Jon :iconfella-mplz:

Raptorguy14 Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
You're welcome :)
AshleySmash Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much for the fav :)
Raptorguy14 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
You're welcome :)
Echo-noise Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Hi Jon
Thanks for the fav :happybounce: 
Raptorguy14 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
No problem! :)
iheartcanada Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Elleven11 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you,, 
Angels-Losing-Sleep Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Hey there. Thanks so much for the favourite. Much appreciated. =)
You have some beautiful photographs here.
Raptorguy14 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Your photographs are pretty amazing as well. Thank you for the compliment and for following me. :)
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