Grafton, Utah is a ghost town located in Washington County alongside the Virgin River, outside the canyon mouth of Zion National Park.
This area of Utah was called "Dixie" by early Mormon pioneers, who settled the St. George area soon after immigration to the west (the St. George LDS temple was completed before the Salt Lake City temple). The pioneers hoped to raise cotton in the valley of the Virgin River, plus other vital warm weather crops essential in the rugged and isolated intermountain region, an area they called "Deseret."
Efforts to grow cotton failed, leaving many ghost towns on the river above St. George. More successful were logging operations in the high country above Zion Canyon. Timber from this source was used to build the early city of St. George, along with the prominent . Ruins of early pioneer cable works built to lower timber down into the canyon can still be seen from the canyon floor today. The Dixie National Forest is a legacy which survives today.
The remaining buildings of the Grafton ghost town are a mix of authentic pioneer era structures and modern-built "period" movie sets constructed for the 1969 classic "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. These buildings are clearly recognizable to fans of the movie. All are located on private property, and trespassing will likely bring a quick visit from a Washington County Sheriff's deputy.
The Grafton Cemetery is an actual historic pioneer burial ground, and is open to the public. Located on a spur off the approach road leading to Grafton, the cemetery is tucked on high ground away from the river. Evidence of the early Mormon past is abundant within the cemetery, with graves of plural wives. Because this community failed during the pioneer era, burials at the Grafton Cemetery largely ceased before polygamy was banned within the LDS church in 1890. As a result, the Grafton Cemetery shows clear evidence of plural marriage without being obfuscated by ongoing burials in the modern era.
Another legacy of the Old West evident in Grafton Cemetery is deaths due to Indian attacks. Besides multiple graves of pioneer men identified as killed in specific incidents, the SE corner of the cemetery was reserved for burial of Native Americans who were killed in the same battles. The pioneers duly buried and marked the graves of these nameless warriors.
(text by D. Grizzle)
GPS Coordinates: 37.1631, -113.08
- Added: 2 Jan 2000
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #77244
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