Grafton Reef Ghost Town

Grafton was one of several settlements established along the Virgin River, in 1859, to grow cotton. This was part of Brigham Young's plan for Mormon self-sufficiency. Crops were planted, irrigation ditches dug and homes built. 3 years later in 1962, a flood destroyed the young town but the town was quickly rebuilt. By 1864 the town had grown to a population of 168 but constant raids by Navajo raiders and the outbreak of the Black Hawk War forced the town's residents to move to Rockville for protection. The Grafton farmers would return daily to tend to their homefields, and by 1868, Grafton was resettled and the residents back.

To escape years of bare subsistence on limited acreage and loss of fields from repeated floods, Grafton's men helped build a canal to deliver water to a wide bench 20 miles downstream. When the Hurricane Canal was finished in 1906, many Grafton families packed everything, some even their houses, and moved to Hurricane.

The last resident left in 1945.

Grafton is said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West, it has been featured as a location in several films, including 1929's In Old Arizona and the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


This schoolhouse was built in 1886. This was used as a school, church, meeting house and community center. They also hosted Friday night dances that drew cowboys from far out on the Arizona Strip. The last school class met in 1919.

Mormon, LDS, Church Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT

Mormon, LDS, Church Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT
Interior of the schoolhouse.

Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT
Alonzo H. Russell built this home in 1862 and lived here until 1910. Following Alonzo's death in 1910, his son Frank bought the house for $200 and a cow. The home's last residents moved to St. George in 1945.

Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid film, Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT
Alonzo H. Russell built this home for his wife Louisa Marie.

interior, Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid film, Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT

Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid film, Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT
John and Ellen Wood Home built in 1877.

Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid film, Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT

grave, Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid film, Mormon, LDS, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah, UT
The Grafton Cemetery, which is 1/2 mile south of the townsite.

Part 2 of our Bryce Canyon Road Trip (View Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

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