The memorial at Iosepa
On my way back to West Wendover from the Wasatch Mountains; I took a diversion to the ghost town of Iosepa. The memorial for the community is located approximately 15 miles off of I-80 in the Skull Valley on Route 96 at the base of the Stansbury Mountains. If you are in the area the trip is well worth your time.
The history of Iosepa bagan in the 1880s when the Mormon Church sent missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands (then called the Sandwich Islands) to preach the gospel. The missionaries were very successful and many native Hawaiians converted to the new religion. Two years later around 1887 50 islanders came to Salt Lake City and wanted to stay in the state. The Church had problems finding available land in the Salt Lake valley but brought a 1280 acre ranch in the Skull Valley.
At first the new community flourished despite the hardships. In the spring of 1890, the Church built 10 homes, a school building and chapel. The settlers built a more complicated water system to bring snow melt from the nearby Stansbury Mountains to water their crops and cattle. Hawaiians flooded into the area and by 1890 about 250 people lived in town. The same year saw a profit of $20,000 in the sale of hay, grain and cattle.
The harsh realities of life in the Skull Valley and disease doomed the town. During its existence Iosepa never had more births than deaths in a single year. This is because of the isolation and hard work necessary for farming in a desert landscape. In the late 1890s, leprosy came from the Hawaiian islands and swept through the town. Even though, the sick were quarantined many people died. By 1917 the few remaining residents had left and gone back to Hawaii. Today, there is very little left of the original establishment (Info from Utah Ghost Towns By: Stephen Carr).
The Skull Valley; looking north .A headstone in the cemetery
Another memorial at Iosepa
Original fire hydrant