A Town Lost In Time: The Grafton Ghost Town Historical Site

Outside the Zion National Park entrance lies a town abandoned to the sands of time — the town known today as Grafton Ghost Town. 

Grafton offers a unique perspective for any Southern Utah University student interested in the history of the land, or anyone looking to escape the everyday scenery of SUU. It’s also a nice stop before entering Zion.

An hour south of Cedar City, Grafton is a small historic site that offers a look into the past of some of the first settlers of southern Utah. 

Founded in 1859 by Nathan Tenney and five other families, the town experienced a series of ups and downs as they tried to form a thriving community in the harsh environment of the red-stained land.

Grafton experienced food shortages, flooding, and attacks from indigenous tribes. These attacks led to the first mass exodus of the town in 1862, only to be resettled again in 1868.

It remained an active town until 1945 when the last resident moved out — officially turning it into a ghost town for the second and final time.

Today, only a few original structures remain, such as the schoolhouse, Russel Home, Grafton Cemetery and smaller townhomes.

The time to view all the sites in Grafton can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how long you want to explore the abandoned town. The structures are close together and are surrounded by private lands that are off-limits to sightseers.

The site is monitored and closed at night. The road into town is dirt and unpaved, as well as impassable during hard rainstorms.

The town of Grafton has also appeared in multiple movies such as “In Old Arizona,” “The Arizona Kid,” “Ramrod,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Child Bride of Short Creek” and “The Red Fury.”

While off the beaten path and not the main attraction for the region, the ghost town of Grafton is a sight to see. The abandoned buildings surrounded by the majestic red rock offer a humble look into the past of southern Utah, where the ghosts of the land are still very much alive in all who come to look at the historical town. 

Story and Photos by Skyler Jones.