Ghost Town: Cisco, Utah

This site contains a collection of memorabilia, relevant & irrelevant information about the town of Cisco, Utah. Cisco is located approximately 6 miles south of I-70 in eastern Utah on Old Route 6, in the vicinity of Arches & Canyonlands National Parks.

Location: Galloway, Ohio, United States

Born in Chicago, 1959. Moved to Columbus, Ohio 1973. Married in 1979. Favorite Pizza! Home Run Inn -Chicago. There is none better.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cisco Boat Launch - Another Song About Cisco!

Canyon Rats gather in the middle of nowhere to celebrate life and commune with the spirit of the eclectic desert cowboy. I go there to cross the fine line of sanity whenever I get the walkin' blues, when I feel the walls of stone are crashing around me. You have to take the road less traveled to get there. If you get to the Cisco boat launch you are lost (unless you have a boat!). Just turn around; when the time is right you'll find it... where the Pleiades are clearly visible on a cloudless night... where it's so quiet you can hear yourself think (kind of scary). No reason to be in a hurry... the center of the universe is closer than you might think...

Cisco Boat Launch - A song about Cisco!

Boat Launch Sign

Traveling Down the only road in and out

The Launch Ramp

Vanishing Point 2001 - The Road Trip Of A Lifetime

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Flowers Of the Cisco Desert

Desperatus Plant

Desperatus Plant - Closeup

Saturday, May 28, 2005

White Buffalo-Lonely Art

by Karuna Eberl

TEMPORARY EXHIBIT: In Cisco, Utah. Karuna Eberl
In a crumbling, long-abandoned building in the desert of eastern Utah, anonymous artists have created one of the world’s loneliest art exhibits.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not steal," is scrawled ominously above a gutted upholstered chair inside a small building called the White Buffalo Bar. Cowboy boots, stuck upside down on posts anchored to the floor, stand in front of small watercolor paintings. Around the corner, 50 or so black-and-white pictures of the backs of people’s heads are glued to the wall in a horizontal row. A towering heap of cinder blocks, springs and glass bottles balances in the middle of another room, precariously supported by thin anchor wires. A typewritten note nailed next to the doorway says the exhibit is an international cooperative project by artists from Utah and Krakow, Poland.

Art in Cisco, Utah. Karuna Eberl
The exhibit in the White Buffalo Bar isn’t static. Perhaps the artists return from time to time, or perhaps others have contributed to the exhibit. The silence of the desert, the randomness of the location and the anonymity of the creators increase the power of the art. In a museum or gallery, it would be another exhibit for people to scrutinize and criticize while trying to figure out its deeper meaning. Here, it is art for the sake of art.

The stories of who ate, drank and lived their lives at the White Buffalo Bar are lost - just as the White Buffalo Bar itself will soon crumble. The buffalo mural on its cinder block front is fading, and vandals have destroyed some of the art inside. But for now, the magic the artists have created remains.

*Karuna Eberl

Charles Steen-Uranium King

Charles A. Steen, "Uranium King"Charles A. Steen (b. 1919), was a student of geology who made a fortune after discovering a rich uranium deposit in Utah, sparking the "Uranium Rush" of the early 1950s.

Steen was born in Caddo, Texas and attended high school in Houston. He went on to study at John Tarleton Agricultural College in Stepenville and in 1940 transferred to the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy at El Paso, receiving a B.A. degree in geology in 1943.

Ineligible for the draft because of his poor eyesight, Steen spent World War II working as a geologist in Bolivia and Peru. Returning to Texas in 1945, he married Minnie Lee ("M.L.") Holland. He started graduate school at the University of Chicago but after a year returned to Houston to take a job doing field work for the Standard Oil Company of Indiana. However, within two years he had been fired for insubordination and had trouble getting any jobs as a geologist anywhere in the oil industry.

Down on his luck, Steen read an article in the December 1949 issue of The Engineering and Mining Journal which discussed how the United States federal government had issued incentives for prospectors to locate domestic supplies of uranium. As part of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission had the authority to withdraw lands from the private sector in order to examine them as possible sites for uranium mining. During World War II, the Manhattan Project had received most of its uranium from foreign sources in Canada and the Belgian Congo. However, it had also received some from vanadium miners in the American Southwest, where uranium was often a by-product of mining (uranium was not, before the first use of the atomic bomb, seen as a terribly valuable metal). As the Soviet Union was reportedly seizing uranium mines in Czechoslovakia and East Germany at the beginning of the Cold War, and running them with slave labor consisting of political prisoners, there was an anxiety throughout the federal government that the United States would not have enough uranium for its budding nuclear weapons program. A domestic supply of uranium would enable the government to maintain a nuclear self-sufficiency, with control of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.

As part of this, in the late 1940s and early 1950s the Atomic Energy Commission also established itself as the only legal buyer of uranium in the U.S., and artificially manipulated prices to reflect their current uranium needs. By raising the price of uranium to far above almost any other metal, they created a massive incentive for amateur and professional prospectors in the Four Corners region to make large amounts of money off of new claims.

Despite the fact that his three sons were all less than four-years-old, and his wife was expecting a fourth child, Steen borrowed $1,000 from his mother and headed for the Colorado Plateau, determined to strike it rich.

Steen could not afford the standard equipment used by uranium prospectors - the Geiger counter, which could detect sources of radiation in ore. Instead, he used a secondhand diamond drill rig and his geologic training for his prospecting. At the time, each individual prospector had his own idiosyncratic theory on where to find uranium. The uranium industry was composed primarily of individual prospectors and geologists who would attempt to find a large claim and either mine it for themselves or mine it for a large company (such as Union Carbide) who would then transport the ore from the mine to the uranium mill where it could be converted into yellowcake. Steen's theory on uranium deposits was that they would collect in anticlinal structures in the same manner as would oil, which others on the Plateau dismissed as "Steen's Folly."

After Steen's fourth child was born, his family moved into a small trailer at Dove Creek, Colorado, and then later into a tarpaper shack near Cisco, Utah. Steen fed his family on poached venison and cereal, in a highly marginalized state of existence, for two years. But on July 6, 1952, Steen hit it big, finding a massive, relatively highly-enriched uranium deposit in the Big Indian Wash of Lisbon Valley, southeast of Moab, Utah. He named it the "Mi Vida" mine (My Life), and it was the first big strike of the uranium boom. Steen made millions off his claims, and provoked a "Uranium Rush" of prospectors into the Four Corners region, similar to the Gold Rush of the 1850s in California.

In Moab, Steen built a $250,000 hilltop mansion to replace his tarpaper shack, with a swimming pool, greenhouse, and servants' quarters. He formed a number of companies to continue his uranium work, including the Utex Exploration Company, the Moab Drilling Company, the Mi Vida Company, Big Indian Mines, Inc., and later the Uranium Reduction Company. He made his money well known, inviting the entire population of Moab to annual parties in a local airpor hangar, having his original worn prospecting boots bronzed, and flying to Salt Lake City in his private plane for weekly rhumba lessons. He donated $50,000 towards a new hospital in Moab and gave land for churches and schools.

Steen was elected to the Utah State Senate in 1958, but quickly became disillusioned with politics. He resigned from office in 1961 and moved to a ranch near Reno, Nevada, building a 27,000 square foot (2,500 m²) mansion near the residence of the Comstock millionair miner, Sandy Bowers. He sold the Utex Exploration Company and the Uranium Reduction Company in 1962. By the late 1950s, the U.S. government had enough uranium for its needs and had stopped supporting high prices of the ore, killing the market by 1960. Steen attempted to diversify his interests by investing in Arabian horse breeding, a marble quarry, an airplane factory, a pickle plant, and real estate. He met with financial losses and misfortune. In 1968 he declared bancruptcy after the Internal Revenue Service seized his assets to pay for back taxes. In 1971 he suffered a severe head injury working on a copper prospect.

Currently suffering from Alzheimer's, Steen now lives in Longmont, Colorado. His wife died in 1997.

Birds of Cisco, Utah

This bald eagle, seen in Cisco, Utah, is almost in adult plumage

Cisco, Utah is one of the best places to see wintering birds of prey. This Ferruginous Hawk was on a power pole on the road to Moab.

A golden eagle was wintering in Cisco.

Raven at the Cisco Landing Store

D&RGW Guidebook c. 1936

CISCO, UTAH-D.-R. 504.4 mi.; D.-M. 329.3 mi.;
Pop. 248;
Elev. 4,375.
Grand County.

In the heart of a vast sheep-herding country, Cisco is an important sheepshearing and wool-shipping point.

Johnny Cash Wrote a song about Cisco-See Sidebar link for Dewey Gas Station

Johnny Cash pulled up. Mr. Cash and Mr. Harris had a little chat and then he filled up Cash’s car with $7 worth of gas. And then Cash wrote a song about it:
Cisco Clifton’s Filling Station (on Essential Johnny Cash 1955-83)Cisco Clifton had a filling station about a mile and a half from town. Most cars passed unless they were out of gas so Cisco was always around.
Regular gas was all that he sold except for tobacco, matches, and oil. Other than that he fixed lots of flats keeping Cisco’s rough hands soiled.
He’d wipe the glass and check the air. And a hundred times a day he’d patiently give directions on how to get to the state highway.
Usually he’d give them water or a tire or two some air and once a big black Cadillac spent $7 there.
He’d give anybody anything they’d ask And lend anything he had. His tools or tires, bumper jacks or wires the good ones or the bad.
In winter time there was a deep coal stove and a table for the checker game. And every morning at sun up the same checker players came.
So Cisco Clifton’s filling station was always in the red. Personal loans were personally gone, but never a word was said.
One morning at 8 the checker players heard a big bulldozer roar like a freight. And Cisco said “I hope my kids stay fed when they build that interstate.”
He’d managed to pay for the property where his little filling station sat. And friends still came for the checker game so Cisco settled for that.
He wouldn’t say so, but Cisco knew the interstate was too much to fight. But to keep his will and pay his bills, he did odd jobs at night.
He still opened up at a sunrise and the checker game went on. The cars flew past on high-test gas, and the neighbors had sold out and gone.
If a car ever did go by, he was lost. And if they stopped they were treated the same.
So at Cisco Clifton’s filling station, there’s a howdy and a checker game.

This Was Johnny Cash's TV Show Song & Guest List Up For September 27, 1969
ABC Television

I Walk The Line
Pretty Woman ( Duet With Roy Orbison )
Come Along And Ride This Train
This Land Is Your Land
That's What I Like About The South ( Duet With Phil Harris )
Folsom Prison Blues
Cisco Clifton's filling Station
you Are All I Need ( Flesh And Blood )
Jackson ( Duet With June Carter )
Battle Hymn Of The Republic ( With Carter Family & Statler Brothers
Taped At The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville Tenn.

There's So Much About Cisco

The blog is growing fast. The amount of information about Cisco is never ending.
Too bad nobody's seeing it but me! If you do, please contribute something to the site.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Cisco Hotel

Cisco Hotel & Cafe with Vanishing Point Bulldozer Scene - 1970

Cisco Hotel & Cafe Behind Vanishing Point CBS Truck Scene - 1970

Cisco Cafe From Vanishing Point - 1970

Unique History of the Floating Hotel:

In 1887 the Post Office was established in Cisco, Utah, now a ghost town northeast of Moab on 128. It reached its heyday of 323 residents in 1910 as the stock-raising industry grew along with the railroad access. By 1920, however, the industry had died out and most residents moved on to other promising economic areas, leaving behind only 95 people by 1920. The Cisco Hotel, built in the midst of the growth spurt and which hosted many of the wild parties that lasted all night, was beloved so much local lore tells of the splitting of the two-story hotel to float it down the Colorado River to the neighboring town of Moab. There it was reassembled and placed in its current location, one block from Main Street in a quite, park-like setting.

Satellite View of Moab, Utah - Current Cisco Hotel Locator

The foundation is is all that
remains of the original Cisco Hotel.

Old Buildings Used in Thelma & Louise

The old man's house in 2004. Vandals painted on the original paint.

Photo Taken In March 2005

The old man's house from Thelma & Louise. Photo taken in 1999.

Photo's Taken March 2005

Inside of Red & White Store

Location of gas pumps in front of building.

Black & white photo of old man's house - 1

Black & white photo of old man's house - 2

Inside of Red & White Building

Thelma talking to old man in front of his house in Cisco, Utah. The man was an actual resident of Cisco. The man is now dead. The building remains.

Thelma & Louise's Thunderbird parked in from of old man's house in Cisco, Utah.

Louise washing at outdoor sink by old man's house.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Vanishing Point 1970 - Video Captures

Opening title from Vanishing Point-Original Movie 1970. Note the Shell gas station!

Kowalski spins out in front of Shell Station

Poor quality video capture of final crash scene from Vanishing Point - Original Movie1970.