Valley City, Utah
Valley City, Utah
A few miles south of present-day Crescent Junction, was once a thriving farming community. It was born around 1905, when the Grand Valley Land and Mineral Company had men working on a reservoir near Thompson that would irrigate some 2,500 acres of land. However, because the company had little cash on hand (its treasurer had reportedly bet a bundle at the racetrack and lost) a dirt dam was substituted for the originally planned cement dam. Three years later, sixty acres of orchard were being irrigated with dam water. But a torrential rainstorm then washed away the dam, not to mention the dreams of those who had invested their time, money, and hard work into the project. The dam was later rebuilt, however, and the town of Valley City had a schoolteacher in the 1920s and early 1930s. However, the periodic flash floods proved to be too much of a threat, and eventually everyone moved away. Today, only traces of a single building foundation remain.(*)
Valley City, Utah
An old article in the Moab times reads:
There’s not much left of Valley City, an even five miles south of Crescent Junction along U. S. Highway 191. Only an eroded root cellar and a little bit of building debris remains of what, for a short time, was a thriving Grand County farming community. I remember, though, when it was an abandoned ghost town with only the school, a farm house or two and an imposing two-story frame hotel, all vacant.
I went there with my father, a county commissioner at the time, along with a member of the school board. We went there to assess whether or not there was anything of value left in the school building that might be salvaged. Aside from some tattered desks with benches attached, there wasn’t much left, except my lasting memories.
According to Grand Memories, a well-researched history of the area published by the Moab Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the following bits of history have been recorded: “In 1905 the Grand Valley Land and Mineral Company had a number of men from Indianapolis, Indiana, working on a reservoir that would irrigate 2500 acres of land near Thompson, Utah. The company sold stock to raise enough money for a cement dam. The land was fertile and the concept correct, but the secretary-treasurer of the company spent a lot of money on horse races. Because of this unfortunate incident, a dirt dam was substituted for the originally planned cement dam. “In 1908 twenty people had arrived at the dam site and were industriously setting out sixty acres of orchard. Water from the reservoir was being utilized. “Then it happened! Torrents of rain fell and the dirt dam was washed away by a huge roaring flash flood. Washed away with the dam were the dreams and hopes of the Indiana people, and most of them returned to their home state. John Sullivan was one that stayed in the area. Howard Balsley had come to see his sister, Nellie, and he too remained. “Several years later M. L. Burdick and his sons-in-law, Jack Brace and Paul Oliver, rebuilt the dam and raised fruits and vegetables. “In the late twenties Sylvia Harris taught at the Valley City school. By 1930 there were few schoolchildren. The board of education authorized a school for the community, but reserved the right to close the school if attendance dropped too low. “Because of flash floods, it was impossible to keep up the reservoir and people kept drifting away from the town. The school finally closed, the farmers, (Newell “Legs” Dalton was the last) left, and Valley City became ghost town. “For many years after Valley City was deserted, a large gray, weather-worn hotel stood as a silent reminder of the life and hard work at Valley City. As time went by the hotel gained a reputation for being haunted.” I remember that old two-story hotel, which my cousin and I toured on foot while on a rabbit hunting outing when I was a youth. As we walked through rooms on the two floors, with boards creaking under our feet, I could believe the “haunted” reputation and was glad to get on with the rabbit hunt. Also remaining, but out of sight from the highway, is the huge washed-out earthen dam, with hundreds of acres of what was once a brimming reservoir which silted full during flash floods down Thompson Wash, which drained several canyons coming off the Book Cliffs. That drainage did and still can carry torrents of water when heavy thunderstorms attack its tributary canyons.There was no dentist in Moab for many years when I was a kid. We always drove to Grand Junction to visit Dr. P. A. Matteroli who had offices in the tall (4 stories) First National Bank building there. The doctor told me he was on his way to Moab to set up a practice when he found the bridge at Valley City had been washed away. He returned to Grand Junction and set up his offices, but kept up with his Moab friends. Each time I pass through what was once Valley City, I look at the old root cellar and remember what it was like when I was young, and what it must have looked like before the dam silted up and washed out. Read more: Moab Times-Independent – The Way Sam Remembers It
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