Box Elder

Zip Code:


Latitude / Longitude:

41°44’46″N 113°06’23″W


4,229 ft (1,289 m)

Time Zone:

Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)


Kelton is a ghost town, just north of the Great Salt Lake, in the Park Valley area of Box Elder County, Utah, United States. The town was inhabited during the period of 1869–1942. Once an important section station on the First Transcontinental Railroad, Kelton was dependent on the railroad throughout its history. The town suffered serious setbacks in the 1880s when its busy stagecoach route to Boise, Idaho was discontinued, and in the 1900s when the Lucin Cutoff left it off the main rail line. The strongest earthquake in Utah history caused severe damage in 1934, but Kelton ceased to exist only when the rails were completely removed during World War II.


The site was first settled under the name of Indian Creek, when the mostly-Chinese work crew of the Central Pacific Railroad arrived on April 12, 1869, less than a month before the driving of the golden spike. When the post office was established here on December 16, 1869, it was named Kelton after an early stockman. It quickly grew into a prosperous town, soon including several fine hotels, stores, homes, a whole row of saloons and gambling halls, and even a telephone exchange.





Current Status:

As late as 1937 Kelton was still an important local shipping point, and a population of 47 remained. The final death blow came suddenly, when the Southern Pacific Railroad completely dismantled the old railway line in a week, July 1–8, 1942, and contributed the hardware to the war effort. The last residents of Kelton left, taking some of the houses with them. Nothing remains but some ruins, fallen buildings and abandoned foundations, and a deteriorating cemetery. The railroad grade is still clearly visible, although many of the trestles are falling down.


On the morning of March 12, 1934, Kelton was hit by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Utah. At a magnitude of 6.6 and an intensity of VIII, the Hansel Valley quake and its aftershocks might have been devastating in a densely populated area, but only two people were killed. Great fissures and holes opened in the earth, muddy water gushing from them. Houses and other buildings were severely shaken, and the Kelton schoolhouse was left leaning at such a precarious angle that it had to be abandoned.