Thompson Springs, Utah

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Thompson Springs
Thompson Springs, Utah September 2007.JPG
Thompson Springs
Grand County Utah incorporated and unincorporated areas Thompson Springs highlighted.svg
Location in Grand County and the state of Utah
Coordinates: 38°59′00″N109°42′20″W / 38.98333°N 109.70556°W / 38.98333; -109.70556 Coordinates: 38°59′00″N109°42′20″W / 38.98333°N 109.70556°W / 38.98333; -109.70556
Country United States
State Utah
County Grand
Named for E.W. Thompson
  Total3.19 sq mi (8.25 km2)
  Land3.19 sq mi (8.25 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
5,246 ft (1,599 m)
  Density12/sq mi (4.7/km2)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 435
FIPS code 49-76180
GNIS feature ID2584780 [1]

Thompson Springs, also officially known for a time as just Thompson, is a small census-designated place in central Grand County, Utah, United States. The population was 39 at the 2010 census. [3] The town is just north of the east-west highway route shared by Interstate 70, U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 50, between Crescent Junction and Cisco. Moab, the county seat, is 37 miles (60 km) to the south. Thompson Springs is located in high desert country at an elevation of 5,246 feet (1,599 m), with the Book Cliffs just to the north. The town's ZIP code is 84540. [4]

A census-designated place (CDP) is a concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs have been used in each decennial census since 1980 as the counterparts of incorporated places, such as self-governing cities, towns, and villages, for the purposes of gathering and correlating statistical data. CDPs are populated areas that generally include one officially designated but currently unincorporated small community, for which the CDP is named, plus surrounding inhabited countryside of varying dimensions and, occasionally, other, smaller unincorporated communities as well. CDPs include small rural communities, colonias located along the U.S. border with Mexico, and unincorporated resort and retirement communities and their environs.

Grand County, Utah County in the United States

Grand County is a county located on the east central edge of Utah, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,225. Its county seat and largest city is Moab. The county was named for the Colorado River, which at the time of statehood was known as the Grand River. It is west of the Colorado state line.

Utah A state of the United States of America

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 31st-most-populous, and 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.



Evidence of human habitation or use of the Thompson Springs area can be dated back to the Archaic Period, when beautiful pictographs were left in Sego Canyon. Subsequent Anasazi, Fremont, and Ute tribes have also left their mark upon the area.

Fremont culture pre-Columbian archaeological culture

The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U.S. state of Utah, where the culture's sites were discovered by local indigenous peoples like the Navajo and Ute. In Navajo culture, the pictographs are credited to people who lived before the flood. The Fremont River itself is named for John Charles Frémont, an American explorer. It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado from AD 1 to 1301. It was adjacent to, roughly contemporaneous with, but distinctly different from the Ancestral Pueblo peoples located to their south.

The former Thompson station was last used in 1997. Thompson Springs.jpg
The former Thompson station was last used in 1997.

Thompson Springs was named for E.W. Thompson, who lived near the springs and operated a sawmill to the north near the Book Cliffs. The town began life in the late nineteenth century as a station stop on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), which had been completed through the area in 1883. A post office at the site was established in 1890, under the name "Thompson's". (The official designation by the United States Postal Service is still "Thompson".) [5] The town was a community center for the small number of farmers and ranchers living in the inhospitable region, and it was also a prominent shipping point for cattle that were run in the Book Cliffs area. Stockmen from both San Juan and Grand counties used Thompson.

Sawmill facility where logs are cut into timber

A sawmill or lumber mill is a facility where logs are cut into lumber. Modern saw mills use a motorized saw to cut logs lengthwise to make long pieces, and crosswise to length depending on standard or custom sizes. The "portable" saw mill is iconic and of simple operation—the logs lay flat on a steel bed and the motorized saw cuts the log horizontally along the length of the bed, by the operator manually pushing the saw. The most basic kind of saw mill consists of a chainsaw and a customized jig, with similar horizontal operation.

Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad transport company

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, often shortened to Rio Grande, D&RG or D&RGW, formerly the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, was an American Class I railroad company. The railroad started as a 3 ft narrow-gauge line running south from Denver, Colorado in 1870. It served mainly as a transcontinental bridge line between Denver, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rio Grande was also a major origin of coal and mineral traffic.

United States Postal Service independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for providing postal service

The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.

Thompson gained importance in the early twentieth century due to the development of coal mines in Sego Canyon, north of town. Commercial mining in Sego Canyon began in 1911, and that year the Ballard and Thompson Railroad was constructed to connect the mines with the railhead at Thompson. The railroad branch line and mines continued operating until about 1950.

Coal A combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed if dead plant matter decays into peat and over millions of years the heat and pressure of deep burial converts the peat into coal.

Sego, Utah Ghost town in Utah, United States

Sego is a ghost town in Grand County, Utah, United States. It lies in the narrow, winding Sego Canyon, in the Book Cliffs some 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Thompson Springs. Formerly an important eastern Utah coal mining town, Sego was inhabited about 1910–1955. The town is accessed via the grade of the Ballard & Thompson Railroad, a spur from the Denver and Rio Grande Western built by the founders of the town to transport the coal.

For many years the city was served by various D&RGW passenger trains, including the Scenic Limited , the Exposition Flyer , the Prospector , the California Zephyr , and the Rio Grande Zephyr . Although Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) took over nearly all passenger rail service in the United States in 1971, the D&RGW continued service through the area until 1983. Subsequently, for the next fourteen years, the city was served by various Amtrak trains, including the California Zephyr, the Desert Wind , and the Pioneer .

The Exposition Flyer was a passenger train jointly operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW), and Western Pacific (WP) railroads between Chicago and Oakland, California, for a decade between 1939 and 1949, before being replaced by the famed California Zephyr.

<i>Prospector</i> (train) passenger train

The Prospector was a passenger train operated by the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad between Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. There were two incarnations of the train: a streamlined, diesel multiple unit train that operated briefly from 1941 to 1942; and a locomotive-hauled train of conventional passenger equipment that operated from 1945 until 1967.

<i>California Zephyr</i> American passenger train

The California Zephyr is a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno. At 2,438 miles (3,924 km), it is Amtrak's second longest route after the Texas Eagle branch to Los Angeles, with travel time between the termini taking approximately 51​12 hours. Amtrak claims the route as one of its most scenic, with views of the upper Colorado River valley in the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada. The modern train is the second iteration of a train named California Zephyr, the original train was privately operated and ran on a different route through Nevada and California.

Construction of I-70 two miles south of Thompson Springs drew traffic away from the city as the former Old Cisco Highway (US 6 and US-50) [6] (now named Frontage Road) was no longer used. The later movement of the passenger train stop about 25 miles (40 km) to the west in Green River (Green River station) in 1997 led to further economic hardship for Thompson Springs. [Note 1]

Green River, Utah City in Utah, United States

Green River is a city in Emery County, Utah, United States. The population was 952 at the 2010 census.

Green River station (Utah) Amtrak station in Green River, Utah, United States

The Green River station is a train station in Green River, Utah. It is served by Amtrak's California Zephyr, which runs once daily between Chicago and Emeryville, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The station has a platform only with no passenger shelter and no services.

The original name for this settlement was "Thompson Springs", a name that was reinstated in 1985. [7] Much of the town is uninhabited today, although there are still some operating businesses in the immediate vicinity of I-70. [10]

The Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project is a uranium tailings removal and relocation project that promises to bring jobs to the area as tailings from the Atlas Mineral Company's tailings ponds outside of Moab will be moved to Crescent Junction, about 6 miles (10 km) west of Thompson Springs. [11]


As of the census [2] of 2010, there were 39 people residing in the CDP. There were 43 housing units. The racial makeup of the town was 94.9% White, and 5.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0% of the population.

Rock art

Fremont petroglyphs in Sego Canyon Fremont petroglyphs, Sego Canyon.jpg
Fremont petroglyphs in Sego Canyon

Thompson Springs is the site of several well-preserved groups of pictographs and petroglyphs left by early Native Americans. The Fremont culture thrived from A.D. 600 to 1250 and was contemporary with the Anasazi culture of the Four Corners area. There is also rock art from the Archaic period dating from 7000 B.C., the Barrier Canyon period from around 2000 B.C., and the Ute tribe dating from A.D. 1300.

See also


  1. Although some sources claim that the former Thompson Station closed in 1994, [7] Amtrak's timetable shows that Thompson was still a flag stop on both the California Zephyr and Desert Wind in late 1996 (but does not include the Green River station). [8] However, by 1997 (after the Desert Wind was discontinued) the timetable shows the California Zephyr stopping at Green River (and no longer shows a stop at Thompson). [9]

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  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Thompson Springs
  2. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  3. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Thompson Springs CDP, Utah". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 28 Mar 2017.
  4. "Thompson Springs Utah History & Travel Info". Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  5. "Look Up a Zip Code - 84540". United States Postal Service . Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  6. "About Thompson Springs". UntraveledRoad. Retrieved 7 Jul 2014.
  7. 1 2 Weiser, Kathy. "UTAH LEGENDS: Thompson Springs - Dying in the Desert". Legends of America. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013. Though the railroad still runs through Thompson today, the final death knell occurred when Thompson's flag stop station, which provided service for Amtrak travelers, was finally closed in 1994.
  8. "Amtrak National Timetable: Fall/Winter 1996/97". Amtrak. 10 Nov 1996. p. 38. Retrieved 21 Oct 2013.
  9. "Amtrak National Timetable: Spring/Summer 1997". Amtrak. 11 May 1997. p. 40. Retrieved 21 Oct 2013.
  10. "Thompson Springs". 2 Oct 2011. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  11. "Moab, Utah, UMTRA Project". Environmental Management at Grand Junction - United States Department of Energy . Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.

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