Kane County Ghost Towns

Views Into the Past

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By Antone B. Giovanini, Jr.

(Editor’s note-Remnants of former historic human occupancy are prevalent in Kane County. Some are as old as the Anasazi, while others were settled during the Wild West days. These are just two of many that existed in the latter half of the 1800’s.) The first ghost town closest to Kanab was named Johnson, otherwise known as the United Order of Enoch. Johnson was originally settled by four brothers; Joel, Joseph, Benjamin and William. They established their little settlement on land known as Spring Canyon Ranch in 1871, located about 12 miles east of Kanab. Families moved in and built a brick school house, post office, blacksmith shop and two stores – Johnson’s and Glazier’s. The small settlement had orchards, vineyards and green fields that provided for the town’s industry and prosperity. The water supply was the creek that flowed down the center of the canyon valley. Several years of drought hit, and the settlement’s focus had to change to ranching to survive. In 1874, Johnson changed its name to the United Order of Enoch; a Mormon plan where everyone had to contribute as a unit to the stores to receive a dividend in return. There was no dividend after five years. People began leaving the harsh inhospitable landscape of desert and drought. By 1900, the town was completely deserted. It later became a movie set rebuilt for such western series as Gunsmoke. This ghost town/movie set is on the paved Johnson Canyon Road. Looking left of the movie set, you will view two buildings that are slightly different. The first one, closest to the road, is one of the original homes. It has four 12 x 12 inch logs for a foundation, full brick chimney on the south side, and lath and plaster on the interior walls. The other structure is the grain storage building for the town. It has an exterior extended doorway visible with a large singular room for the grain. It also has a full basement made of stones on the bottom. These buildings are on private property, but can be seen clearly from the road. Please don’t trespass! Thirty miles east of Kanab on Highway 89 is the ghost town of Pahreah. There are pictures on plaques near the highway of the settlement. From the pull out and historical markers, it is a five mile gravel road leading to Pahreah. You will notice the signs of a movie set for a western movie once out there. The road past the original set leads to an old cemetery. The Pahreah townsite was across the Paria River. Pahreah was originally settled in 1865 by Mormon settlers led by Peter Shirts. The pressure from the local Indians forced the white settlers to move up river, to a more easily defended and farming-friendly site. This settlement had log cabins and buildings of stone and adobe. William Meeks was the first Mormon bishop. T.W. Smith ran the general store. During the polygamy period of the 1880’s, Pahreah was a favorite hiding place from authorities due to its isolation. The townsite grew quite well from bounteous crops and herds of livestock that enjoyed the nearby water source. But the same water source that gave it sustenance, also caused Pahreah’s demise. Floods washed away the best farms and many homes. Pahreah did get a new lease on life as gold was found in the clay. Sluice boxes took the place of plows. But its mining history was short-lived. The fine flour gold could not be recovered economically, and the miners left. Four families remained until 1910, and this was reduced to one bachelor miner who hung on until 1929.

Kane County Ghost Towns : Kanab, Utah Area Guide : kanabguide.com

Ths is the only building left of the old Pahreah townsite. Photo by Antone Giovanini.

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