This Abandoned Town in Utah Will Give You the Creeps

Thistle, located in Utah County, was once a bustling railroad and farming community until 1983 when a massive landslide obstructed the Spanish Fork River, transforming the town into a submerged ghost town beneath a newly formed lake. Today, Thistle stands as a poignant testament to nature’s might, drawing the interest of urban explorers and paranormal enthusiasts.

The Rise of Thistle

Established in 1878 as a vital railroad junction and supply hub for nearby mining towns, Thistle thrived, reaching a peak population of approximately 600 residents. The town boasted essential amenities like a school, church, hotel, post office, general store, and various homes and businesses. Thistle was renowned for its orchards, gardens, and dairy farms.

However, Thistle’s fortunes took a dire turn in April 1983 when heavy precipitation triggered a landslide, blocking Spanish Fork Canyon. This natural dam halted the river’s flow, leading to the flooding of Thistle. Evacuation became necessary, leaving behind a sunken ghost town. The disaster resulted in over $400 million in damages, prompting a federal emergency declaration.

The Remains of Thistle

Despite efforts to drain the lake formed by the landslide, Thistle remained submerged and abandoned. Some structures, like the hotel, school, church, and railroad bridge, are still visible but gradually succumbing to decay, contributing to the eerie and surreal atmosphere.

Thistle attracts curious visitors interested in its history and ghostly tales. Reports of strange phenomena, including apparitions, voices, footsteps, and lights, add to its mystique. The town’s ruins offer a haunting backdrop for exploration and photography. Thistle also serves as a destination for fishing, camping, and hiking enthusiasts.


Thistle stands out as one of Utah’s most unique ghost towns, serving as a testament to both the resilience and tragedy of its former inhabitants. It bears witness to the unpredictable forces of nature capable of altering the course of history. While Thistle may send shivers down your spine, it also evokes a sense of wonder and awe.

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