Friday, December 16, 2016

Getting Down In Grafton

  The passage of time helps us forget the painful, the funny and the best of our memories. Paired with Mother Nature time will also erase the evidence of our own history. The speed at which the effects of time can reclaim nature's space is actually quite impressive. Photos of places like Chernobyl or the Titanic wreck site remind us of how fragile mankind's creations really are. But when the right people come along a rusting classic car can return to it's former glory days and crumbling buildings can be brought back from near collapse to fresh, museum quality exhibits. The Grafton ghost town is an example of this.
   Grafton is hidden by the small town of Rockville, Utah just south of Zion's National Park. It was founded in 1859 by Mormon settlers for the purpose of growing cotton and was originally called Wheeler. Nature interfered with the town on more than one occasion in the form of flooding which at one time washed most of Wheeler away. The town was moved and renamed Grafton but the floods continued and the threat of attacks by Native Americans eventually led to the downfall of the town.
  Today the town is famous from Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Arizona Kid among many others. Grafton is also considered by some to be the most photographed ghost town in the United States. 
  Of course none of this would be possible without the restoration of the town. In 1997 the Grafton Heritage Partnership began improvements on the few remaining buildings, farmland and cemetery in an effort to preserve the site. Thanks to the GHP we were able to visit the site to take photos for ourselves and to enjoy an afternoon with a little local history. Despite being under 24 hour surveillance and just a short distance from Rockville you still get the feeling of isolation and the lack of noises feeds the sense of loneliness and an occasional tumbleweed passing by will send you over the edge. 
  After letting the creepy feelings pass you can settle in and enjoy how peaceful the setting really is and get to photographing and exploring. The doors to the buildings are locked but that isn't a reason not to visit. A peak in the window allows you to see the work that has been done to revitalize the structures. Had this work not been done there may not be anything here but fallen blocks and foundations to be forgotten by people and reclaimed by nature but for now this historic site is in good hands.


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