19th Century Downtown Historic Hiawatha
19th Century Downtown Historic Hiawatha, Utah

The community of Hiawatha, Utah was founded on or about the year 1910 on the grounds of an old cattle ranch. Sitting at the headwaters of Miller Creek, the town sat just south of Price, Utah, where rich veins of coal had been previously discovered around 1905.

Originally, the community Hiawatha co-existed geographically among several other coal communities. Sometime between the years 1913-1915, however, the communities of East Hiawatha, West Hiawatha, and Black Hawk consolidated and formed the town of Hiawatha proper.

Hiawatha Utah Pool Hall Fruits Candies & Cigars early 20th century

Operated by the Carbon Coal and Coke Company, for approximately 60 years the town flourished and the mines were worked. Nestled amidst the rich coal bearing county of Carbon Utah, the town provided long lasting livelihoods for many men and their families.

Carbon Coal and Coke Company Hiawatha Utah Miners

Carbon Coal and Coke Company Hiawatha Utah Miners

Carbon Coal and Coke Company Hiawatha Utah Miners Tipple

During the 1970’s the population of Hiawatha began to decline. With the coal veins diminishing in output, the population decline accelerated into the 1980’s. Slowly but surely dwellings and other structures were abandoned, leaving them in disrepair.

The Hiawatha Mines officially closed on Friday April 19th 1991, and the town ceased to exist. Those buildings not already razed due to abandonment and disrepair were torn down and leveled.

What remains of the town today are a few dusty roads, relics, and a few husks of long abandoned buildings.

Carbon Coal and Coke Company Hiawatha Utah Miners Modern Day Ghost Town

Interestingly, the town may experience a rebirth. Though officially now classified as a ‘ghost town’, in the past decade or so talks have been underway to reopen the shafts and begin mining once again.

Numismatic Specimens

Below are several Hiawatha Explosive tokens. All grade from approximately Choice Fine to Very Fine.

1 Stick Powder, Carbon Emery Stores Co, Hiawatha UT Schenkman-UT-MX16

10 Sticks Powder, Carbon Emery Stores Co, Hiawatha UT Schenkman-UT-MX17

1 Exploder, Carbon Emery Stores Co, Hiawatha UT Schenkman-UT-MX21a

1 Exploder, Carbon Emery Stores Co, Hiawatha UT Schenkman-UT-21b

Aaron Packard [End Mark]

Notes and Sources

  1. The Blogs of Geri Blackburn and Wallace R. Baldwin
  2. Explosive Control Tokens, David Schenkman, NSCA, ©1989
  3. 20,000 Coal Company Stores, Gordon Dodrill, ©1971
  4. Utah State History – Digital Collections
  5. The Library of Congress Digital Archives
Aaron Packard


  1. This is sad. My dad a lifelong coal miner moved his family from Cowlington, (90 miles south of Tulsa) to Hiawatha in the spring of 1945 and worked in the mine until the spring of 1948. We lived in the housing project, called the flat tops. Hiawatha was a lively little self contained community with it’s own company store, school, post office and everything you would expect to find in a town of 1500. Even though I was very small I remember the train ride from Oklahoma to Hiawatha because there was a army battalion that had trained at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas on the way to Fort Lewis, Washington for shipment on to participate in the invasion of Japan which thank God never had to happen. I was back for a visit in the early 2000’s and the flat tops were gone and town almost deserted but most of the buildings were still there. There were a lot of Greek’s and Italian’s when we were there.

    1. Author

      Hi Delmar –

      Thanks very much for sharing your memories of Hiawatha. It is greatly appreciated.

      Kind regards,

      Aaron Packard

  2. We used to live in Hiawatha too. from like 2003-2010.
    It was abandoned when we lived there except for a few neighbors. We would always play in the old store, and a few of the abandoned houses.

  3. Are you referring to the Ghost town of Hiawatha Utah, or Hiawatha Kansas.
    These photos and tokens are for Hiawatha Utah.

  4. I worked for US Fuel Co from 1980 to 1985 when I moved to Colorado. Never lived in the town. The houses went to miners families based on seniority with the Co. I commuted from Miller Creek where we owned a small house, built around a cabin dragged there from Solder Creek Canyon. I worked in the King 5 Mine first, it was a low seam mine 52” to 46” on our knees most of the time. Then I transferred to King 4 “The big mine” it was a track mine, and I operated the first diesel equipment introduced into the mine. Until I bid on a continuous miners operator job. Best job in the mine. I was Union and on the safety and mine commuter. Also on the mine rescue team. We took first place novice team and I got First Place Novice Gas Man in the rescue contest in Price at the collage. We had our equipment room and maintance bench in the basement of the Co Headquarters in the old bowling alley. Across the street from the Post Office/ gas station/ company store where we could cash our paychecks and charge gas and goods at the company store. I did drive the old school bus from the town up to the Bathhouse for a couple years. Gary T Gibbs

  5. I finished my time there in the King 6 Mine. One canyon to the south. It may have been part of the Mohrland ghost town. We entered into the king 3 Mine workings and was under the old King 3 and 4 sections we gave up because of all the roof falls from the old mines in the seam above us. Thank you for letting me reminisce about some of the best times of my life.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the background and information. It is most appreciated!

      Aaron Packard

  6. I grew up in Hiawatha, UT from 1956 to 1970. I was a wonderful place to live. Loved the people and the town. My father, Dr. LaVille H. Merrill, was the company and town doctor and my mother, Kathryn D. Merrill, one of his nurses from 1946 to his death in 1966. We continued to live there until July of 1970 when we moved to Price. I remember attending 1st and 2nd grade there.

    1. Author

      Hi Chloe –

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience, as well as your parent’s contributions to Hiawatha. This provides additional historical context to Hiawatha’s unique and interesting story.

      Much appreciated,

      Aaron Packard

  7. My maternal great grandparents Richard and Dollie Garr lived in Hiawatha! They moved there after gaining mining experience in Montana. Evidently, mining required many skills. Richard was “in charge” of the town beginning in 1915.
    Here is an excerpt from the 1920 book “Utah Since Statehood” vol 4:
    “Richard G. Garr was a little lad of five years when his parents left the east to become residents of Montana… acquainted himself with mechanical pursuits under the direction of his father… pursued a course studying steam engineering… employed by the state of Montana in mechanical work… took up electrical engineering… When twenty-one years of age he started out independently in Montana at the Jay Gould mine… devoting his attention largely to millwrighting. In 1899 he went to Electric, Montana, entering the employ of the coal and coke company as electrician. After two years, however, he returned to Cokeville, where he was employed as operator of hoisting engines, thus continuing until 1905. He then returned to Electric, Montana, as chief electrician for the Montana Coal & Coke Company. After three years he became a resident of Red Lodge, Montana, spent two years and then removed to Somerset, Colorado, entering the employ of the Utah Fuel Company as master mechanic. After three and a half years he was transferred to Castlegate, Utah, and in May, 1915, he severed his connection with the Utah Fuel Company to accept the position of general master mechanic at Hiawatha with the United States Fuel Company, having charge of all of their property in that connection.
    Mr. and Mrs. Garr have had three children: Richard Leroy, who was accidentally killed in the railroad yards when eleven years of age; Dorothy Marie, born at Electric, Montana, in 1908; and William Robert, born at Castlegate, Utah, in 1915.”

    My grandmother Dorothy Marie Garr has told me many tales of living in Hiawatha. Once in class, the teacher asked the students to talk about what their fathers did for a living. When called upon, little Dorothy did not have an answer. The entire class laughed; as gen. master mechanic, he basically was the mayor of the town! She also has vivid memories of traveling on the train to Salt Lake City with her stricken older brother Dick after he’d become caught beneath the train in town while playing with friends. Dick was in shock and was enjoying the trip; Dorothy offered to run and get him a rare treat—a bottle of cream soda—available in another car. When she told me this, 60 years had passed and she hadn’t touched another cream soda in all that time.

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