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History of Thistle, Utah County, Utah

Thistle, Utah County, Utah is now a ghost town. The following history was written by Genevieve Atwood:
Thistle became an important junction on the railroad with the 1890 completion of a branch line south through Sanpete Valley. When the Utah Railway Company began to construct its own line in 1912, a second set of tracks up Spanish Fork Canyon to Helper, the D&RGW contracted to maintain the tracks for joint use and to maintain the Marysvale line. Ninety years later, because the Thistle landslide buried the exact junction and joint tracks, the two companies fought out legal responsibilities and insurance claims in the courts.

The town of Thistle expanded and contracted with the fortunes of the railroad. The town saw its heyday in the early 1900s. Six hundred residents lived in Thistle in 1917. Changing economics and technologies reduced the need for an active rail town with its large depot, water and coal supplies, roundhouse, and supporting stores, post office, schoolhouses, and saloon. The depot was torn down in 1972. Shops closed, and even the post office closed in 1974. A few families stayed; others moved in. In March 1983, fifty residents in a dozen houses claimed the town of Thistle as their home.

In 1983 the town of Thistle, Utah, known to many highway travelers as the small community where both the Spanish Fork River and nearby U.S. highways branch, was eliminated by the most costly landslide on record in the United States.

For further reading on Thistle and the landslide that destroyed it: See: O.B. Sumsion: Thistle - Focus on Disaster (1983).

Owner/SourceGenevieve Atwood
Linked toGeorge Francis Spencer (Census)

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