Latitude / Longitude:
5,771 ft (1,759 m)
Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
Dragon is a ghost town located in Uintah County, at the extreme eastern edge of Utah, United States. Founded in about 1888 as a Gilsonite mining camp, Dragon boomed in the first decade of the 20th century as the end-of-line town for the Uintah Railway. Although it declined when the terminus moved farther north in 1911, Dragon survived as the largest of the Gilsonite towns. It was abandoned after its mining operations stopped in 1938 and the Uintah Railway went out of business in 1939.
As the commercial mining of Gilsonite began in 1888, a significant deposit was discovered some 1.5 miles (2.4 km) up Dragon Canyon. Observers said that the vein of the black substance formed the shape of a dragon along the surface of the ground, and the operation was named the Black Dragon Mine. The name Dragon was soon given to both the canyon and the mining camp that grew up in the flat area at the canyon’s mouth.
Only ruins remain at the Dragon site. There is a rubble pile where the hotel stood, a sidewalk that ran to the old schoolhouse, some foundations, and a small cemetery.
In 1910 a public library was established in Dragon, with an unusual arrangement. The Uintah Railway would transport library books free of charge to and from any borrower along its route. By 1938, all of the Gilsonite mining activity moved still further north, to the Bonanza area. The Dragon and Rainbow mines closed down. Trucks to Vernal and Craig, Colorado replaced trains for hauling Gilsonite. People started to abandon Dragon, Rainbow, and Watson. In 1939 Dragon’s population was just 72, mostly railroad workers. Having lost the majority of its freight business, the Uintah Railway ceased operation in 1939. The 1940 census recorded a “South Dragon precinct” population of 10.