3 Underwater Mormon Ghost Towns You Can See Today


As the first settlers in what would later become the town Thistle, the Pace family arrived in 1848 after a long trip from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the mountains of Utah. Five generations of the Pace family lived in the town before they were forced from their homes by a mudslide in 1983 that caused $200 million in damage.

From its founding, Thistle largely remained a ranching and farming town until 1878, when the first railroad came through the small town. After that, Thistle became an important crossroad with some 600 residents in 1917.

As time wore on and highways were built, the population of the town gradually dwindled until 1983, when the entire town was destroyed and evacuated.

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A building in Thistle as the flood waters rose, destroying the town. Image from Deseret News archives.

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Ruins of the Thistle school house. Images by Jenny Bauman from Wikimedia Commons.

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A building that survived the flooding in Thistle. Image by Drewe Zanki from Wikimedia Commons.

The heavy rain and fast-melting spring snow turned the hills of the Spanish Fork Canyon above Thistle into a mass of moving mud. Soon the mud plugged the narrow canyon floor, creating a 220-foot-high wall and a lake that drowned the town of Thistle.

Though the water eventually drained and the state built a dam upstream of the town, Thistle has remained abandoned ever since.

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