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Unread 02-22-2009, 12:44 PM
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Default Ghost Town: Sego, UT - Ghost towns and Pictographs - Grand County, Utah

Site: Sego
Alternate Names: Ballard
County, State: Grand County, Utah
Years of Occupation: 1908-1950's
Status of Site: Open
Classification: Class 2 - Neglected Town
Type: Mining
Remnants: Several fallen buildings, misc foundations, abandoned cars & mines.
GPS Coordinate: 3901′59″N 10942′11″W
NRHP Reference#: NA
Date of Last Visit: June, 2009

Sego, Utah is a town with a very interesting and difficult history. It was established as company town with its roots in mining, beginning in the 1890's. Sego is located in Grand County, North of Thompson by about 5 miles. The town of Sego had changed names a few times, usually being named after the current land owner or the manager of the mine. Eventually the name of Sego stuck, named after the Utah state flower, the Sego Lily was abundant in the canyon.

The mining activity wasn't due to a gold or silver strike, but rather coal. A rancher by the name of Henry Ballard was in the hills above Thompson running his sheep and cattle when he stumbled upon a vein of coal on the surface of the ground. Ballard was quite the business man, owning most of the land and many of the buildings in Thompson. He quickly saw the potential with the coal to heat homes and began selling coal to the locals. Folks could buy coal at the store Ballard owned in Thompson or drive their wagon to the mine to haul the coal themselves. Customers were coming by wagon from as far as Monticello, UT nearly 100 miles away.

In 1911 the Ballard and Thompson coal company was incorporated and plans were made to build a railroad to haul coal from the mine down to the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad mainline in Thompson.

By the end of 1911 the mine had 125 employees and the town of Sego (called Nelson at that time, after the manager of the mine) had 500 people living in it. A company store was built along with a boarding house. Oddly enough the company allowed the miners to build their residences anywhere in the canyon they pleased, leading to many buildings scattered throughout the canyons.

At the end of 1912 the Ballard & Thompson Railroad was completed, running for 5 miles. The railroad operated on grades as steep as 4 degrees and ran on 65 pound rail, along with 3.3 miles of 45 to 57 pound rail, which was manufactured as early as 1888. (Rail is measured by it's weight in 3' lengths, the weight of a specific rail measured 3' long gives you it's size. Modern rail weighs any where from 133 to 141 pounds per 3' length.)

Soon the mine was moving 600 tons of coal per day, but it wasn't without trouble. The town's water table had been dropping quickly from the very beginning and the water supply had slowed to a trickle at times. In contrast to the water table running dry, there were frequent flash-floods running down the canyon, washing out many of the railroad bridges and trestles. It's reported that the train had ran off the track or wasn't able to operate as much as 1/4th of the time. Much of the coal was being taken to Grand Junction, CO purchased by the D&RGW railroad for their steam engines.

By 1915 profits were so low that many miners had not seen a paycheck for several months. The miners were instead paid with script, which allowed them to purchase food & supplies at the company store.

At this point the mining management & ownership changed hands in an effort to increase profits. This happened a few more times in the mines troubled history, until the mine, now owned by the Chesterfield Coal Company, had it's property sold off by a Sheriffs sale located in Moab during 1947. The miners went in together and purchased the mine in order continue making a living in the area. After 2 disastrous fires at the mine, the D&RGW railroad told the coal company that there was not enough traffic to justify the costs of maintaining the rail line and that they were going to pull up the tracks.

Even with the railroad gone, the mine struggled to operate using a loading ramp and a truck to haul coal. Shortly after the railroad pulled out, the demand for coal by the railroad changed as they moved from coal-powered steam engines to diesel-electric locomotives. This sealed the fate for the mine and it was shut down.

In 1955 the property was again sold, but not for it's coal. This time a company from Texas purchased the property to pursue the underground oil and natural gas.




Long before any white men ranched in this area, ran cattle or mined coal, another group of people called this place home. And like the miners, they also left their mark on the land. At the bottom of the canyon are several panels of Pictographs from different ages. The painting styles range from as long ago as 7000 BC by the Barrier people to as recently 1600 AD by the Utes, with the Fremont people living here in between.



Saturday Feb 21st, 2009

Catherine and I decided to take the drive to Sego and explore the ghost town and study the Pictographs. It was a perfect day for a trip into the canyon, temperatures were mid-50's and we had the place to our own, for the most part.

The first place we came to were the panels of Pictographs.-

















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Unread 02-22-2009, 01:03 PM
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Looking down & around the canyon where the Pictographs are located-






We saw this panel & wondered if it was genuine or not. Each of the other panels had a fence & sign in front of it, but this one did not. There were other paintings as well, but a few of them looked nothing like the others... impostors? Not sure.-




Further up the canyon we came to what must have been the Sego Cemetery. There was a grave as recent as 1995, while others were probably from the previous hundred years. We poked around the graveyard a bit, seeing what we could learn from the inhabitants. They didn't teach us too much, but some of the gravestones were very basic; a tree stump, a large rock, etc.-






In the same area was a massive cut thru the center of a hill that was made for the raiload and it's coal loads.-




All the way up the canyon you can see the fading signs of the old railroad grade. Much of the grade has disappeared, but the occasional bridge helps you find it again.








Soon enough we were at Sego, with the old company store being the first structure that we saw. We found a few other old buildings, some built into hillsides and the large boarding house. There were even a few dilapidated cars!-










Some interior pics of the store, notice the rail build into the threshold of the door. There was another window that had 5 or 6 pieces of rail laid across the top of it.-





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Unread 02-22-2009, 01:19 PM
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We found many of the homes build by the miners in the area, many of them were built into the hills. Rock & wood held them together, with the wood seeming to fall apart and the rock fairing much better with time. The 2nd structure had rails for the roof supports and a steel door, that had come off its hinges-






Further up Thompson Canyon, within sight of where the railroad track ran we saw this home. I'm not sure how it relates to the coal mine, but it was in pretty good shape. Oddly enough, the land around it had been cleared and it looked as if someone had irrigation in place. Upon further inspection someone has been in the home cleaning it up. Looks like quite the fixer-upper! There was a nearby out-building that we explored.










Additional Info/Links:
http://utahrails.net/utahcoal/utahcoal-sego.php
http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ut/sego.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sego,_Utah
http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ut-segocanyon.html


Photo album-

http://greg-catherine.smugmug.com/ga...8_pUJLi#P-1-24


Much thanks to Tim B, who mentioned I need to head up this way and check out Sego & the surrounding area!
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Last edited by Greg; 02-22-2009 at 01:42 PM.
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Unread 02-22-2009, 04:50 PM
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Excellent writeup Greg

I had the opportunity to visit the area and a couple of the area mines with the Gold Rush crew several years back. To think all these years we had been driving right past it
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Unread 02-23-2009, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by cruiseroutfit View Post
Excellent writeup Greg

I had the opportunity to visit the area and a couple of the area mines with the Gold Rush crew several years back. To think all these years we had been driving right past it
Thanks Kurt, I plan to get out there again and take a closer look at the coal mines & other canyons in the area. Plenty to see out there!
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Unread 02-23-2009, 09:59 AM
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I need to get out to this spot once and for all! Great write up!!
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Unread 02-23-2009, 01:02 PM
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Great post!
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Unread 02-23-2009, 05:31 PM
iceaxe iceaxe is offline
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I remember having a simular impression about the questionable panel of pictographs but I've seen a lot of em since then, not that that makes me an expert, anyway looking at your photo those do appear to be legitimate to me.
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Unread 02-24-2009, 09:44 AM
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I'm really considering running Koko during the EJS weekend, of that doesn't pan out is anyone interested in a day trip through Sego on the Sunday (4/12) after Big Saturday? Pull out of Moab at say 8am and spend the day and afternoon exploring Sego, head home from there.
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Unread 02-24-2009, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cruiseroutfit View Post
I'm really considering running Koko during the EJS weekend, of that doesn't pan out is anyone interested in a day trip through Sego on the Sunday (4/12) after Big Saturday? Pull out of Moab at say 8am and spend the day and afternoon exploring Sego, head home from there.
I could be persuaded to head up there again, it's good for a half-day easy. But I'd rather spend a couple days on the Koko.
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Unread 02-27-2009, 05:14 PM
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Great report and thanks for the pics! After reading Larry Hecks artical in a past 4wd SU mag, it was put on my list of places to get to. Maybe even an overnight...
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Unread 02-28-2009, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bh4rnnr View Post
Great report and thanks for the pics! After reading Larry Hecks artical in a past 4wd SU mag, it was put on my list of places to get to. Maybe even an overnight...
Thank you! I'll have to grab that issue, see what his thoughts were on the area.
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Unread 03-01-2009, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg View Post
Thank you! I'll have to grab that issue, see what his thoughts were on the area.
It was a couple issues ago, will have to look at what month it was.
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Unread 03-01-2009, 09:15 PM
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It was a couple issues ago, will have to look at what month it was.

Don't worry about it, they also publish online!

http://www.4wdandsportutility.com/ad...yon/index.html

Makes me wonder about camping out there... Who want's to try it?
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Unread 03-02-2009, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
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Don't worry about it, they also publish online!

http://www.4wdandsportutility.com/ad...yon/index.html

Makes me wonder about camping out there... Who want's to try it?
Cool, forgot about the online thing.....

I'd be game for a camping trip there!
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Unread 03-03-2009, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
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Don't worry about it, they also publish online!

http://www.4wdandsportutility.com/ad...yon/index.html

Makes me wonder about camping out there... Who want's to try it?
We need to camp there on a Friday the 13th

Larry is a great writer, I always enjoy his stories
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Unread 03-03-2009, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiseroutfit View Post
We need to camp there on a Friday the 13th

Larry is a great writer, I always enjoy his stories
Or a Halloween trip!
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Unread 03-03-2009, 06:15 PM
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We need to camp there on a Friday the 13th

Larry is a great writer, I always enjoy his stories
Quote:
Originally Posted by bh4rnnr View Post
Or a Halloween trip!

Hell yeah! Halloween would be awesome, we can sit around the campfire & tell Skinwalker stories... get everyone all worked up before bedtime.
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Unread 03-03-2009, 06:16 PM
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Hell yeah! Halloween would be awesome, we can sit around the campfire & tell Skinwalker stories... get everyone all worked up before bedtime.

Awesome!!
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Unread 03-03-2009, 06:22 PM
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Hell yeah! Halloween would be awesome, we can sit around the campfire & tell Skinwalker stories... get everyone all worked up before bedtime.
Oh the HomeGrown Crew would be upset at me for missing there Halloween Party, but this would be to good to pass up!
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