Ghost Town: Connellsville, Utah

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Site: Connellsville, Utah
Alternate Names: Electric Lake (current)
County, State: Emery, Utah
Years of Occupation: 1874-1878
Status of Site: Open
Classification: Class 1: Barren Town
Type: Industrial/Mining
Remnants: Emery County's earliest industrial city was a doomed failure and eventually drowned in the depths of Electric Lake
GPS Coordinate: 39°36'3.27"N 111°12'57.57"W
Date of Last Visit: 5/16/2020

Connellsville was not only notable for being Emery County's first commercial mining operation but also the first in the entire Wasatch Plateau coal field. Demand for coke by the smelters of the Salt Lake Valley led to the establishment of the town by the Fairview Coal Mining and Coke Company. It was reported at one point to have seven mines totaling 2000 feet of tunnels, producing 12.5 tons of coke per day among 10 ovens.

The poor coke quality doomed the establishment, as it couldn't justify the difficulty of constructing rail from Springville. Four years later, the experiment had failed and all of the miners had moved to nearby Winter Quarters. The mines were only operated sporadically for the heating needs of the Sanpete Valley Communities.

In order to provide water for the Huntington Power Project, a contract was awarded in 1972 to construct the 220' Electric Lake Dam at the right fork of Huntington Creek, storing 32,000 acre feet of water. As part of the construction, Utah Power funded an archaeological dig of Connellsville and moved one of the Coke Ovens to a site above the water line.

Further Reading: A History of Emery County, Edward A. Geary. A digital copy can be found here: http://www.riversimulator.org/Resources/History/UtahCounties/HistoryOfEmeryCounty1996Geary.pdf

Directions to Get There:
The kiosk and overlook can be accessed on Highway 31 between Fairview Canyon and Huntington.

1923 Ruined Coke oves at site of old Connellsville (now under Electric Lake) SpiekerE.M.249.jpg

1923 USGS Photo of the ruined coke ovens, the only surviving photo of the site that I could find. Accessed from:
 

99discovery

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After the 2020 9 Mile Canyon Tour, we decided to take Highway 31 back towards our home. This scenic byway is one of our favorites, and just for kicks decided to stop off at Electric Lake and read the kiosk which surprisingly told of this Ghost Town that was buried by the dammed waters.

1648_electric lake kiosk small.jpg


This buried mining town was interesting enough to spark my curiosity, so I made it a goal to get more info from the Ghostown Database. Sadly, there was nothing there! The link took me to a Wikipedia page that had next to no information and zero photos.

So I spent some time on Sunday and found a digital copy of the History of Emery County which fleshed out some details (but information is unsurprisingly sparse for this failed community whose entire existence lasted less than most of our car loans). The only photo I could find was from 1923, a USGS photo that was archived by Emery County. As you can see from the Kiosk above, it's the same photo. It might honestly be the only surviving photo of the town.

I took some photos of the site today....Electric Lake, whose narrow width and tall dam has always struck me as an "eerie" reservoir, one that I wouldn't want to be caught swimming in for some reason. It'd be a great setting for some kind of X-Files type episode. Despite that, the scenery is gorgeous.

I never did find the oven that UP&L allegedly relocated, maybe it's along the footpath? I'll have to head back when I have more time and see if I can find it.

1646_electric lake small.jpg

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