Over the Memorial Day week I spent a few days tromping around in the desert of Central Utah near the towns of Price and Helper with my long-time friend of 38 years Dave Harmer. Dave and I share a love of trains and ghost towns and old mining camps and road trips. The area around Price and Helper are littered with historic coal mining camps and abandoned and semi-abandoned rail lines, and the three days we spent there were a treasure trove of walking amongst the relics of life in another time.
Southeast of Price one of the last large coal towns and mines to close up was the company town of Hiawatha -- still owned by the Hiawatha Coal Company. A few people still live in what's left of the town -- maintaining the mine, but no active mining has taken place here in a number of years, and the mainline of the Utah Railway still runs into town, but no train has rumbled through in about 20 years and the sagebrush has grown in the tracks. (Note that the photos taken for this post are done with an app on my i-Phone called "Hipstamatic", using the "Blackeys" and the "John S" lens -- the date on the photo is something added by the program to mimic an old-fashioned Instamatic picture, and does not reflect the date the photo was taken.)
Were standing in the woods
Out on the hill above the town,
Where once a farmhouse stood.
In the winter the leaves are bare
And no one sees the signs
Of a house that stood and a garden that grew
And life in another time.
One Spring when the buds came bursting forth
And grass grew on the land,
The Lilac spoke to the Apple tree
As only an old friend can.
Do you think, said the Lilac, this might be the year
When someone will build here once more?
Here by the cellar, still open and deep,
There's room for new walls and a floor.
Oh, no, said the Apple, there are so few
Who come here on the mountain this way
And when they do, they don't often see
Why we're growing here, so far away.
A long time ago we were planted by hands
That worked in the mines and the mills
When the country was young and the people who came
Built their homes in the hills.
But now there are cities, the roads have come
And no one lives here today
And the only signs of the farms in the hills
Are the things not carried away
Broken dishes, piles of boards,
A tin plate, an old leather shoe.
And an Apple tree still bending down
And a Lilac where a garden once grew.