Russian Settlement

Name:

Russian Settlement

County:

Box Elder

Zip Code:

 

Latitude / Longitude:

41°43’N 113°21’W

Elevation:

4,850 ft (1,480 m)

Time Zone:

Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)

Comments:

Russian Settlement is a ghost town in the Park Valley area of Box Elder County, Utah, United States. It is not known what name, if any, the settlers from Russia gave to their community; it has been called “Box Elder County’s ghost town with no name.” The settlement, which lasted about 1914–1917, was formed by a group of Spiritual Christians from Russia of mixed faiths and ethnicities. The land company never provided promised facilities to make the land liveable, and the colony failed quickly. The most noticeable remnant of Russian Settlement is a cemetery with two graves.

Remains:

Between 1910 and 1914, the Salt Lake City-based Pacific Land and Water Company acquired about 180,000 acres (73,000 ha) (280 sq.mi.) of property in Box Elder County to resell. This land consisted of former railroad land, the property of another company absorbed by Pacific Land and Water, and tracts purchased from ranchers. Pacific Land and Water misrepresented this arid land in advertising, describing it as “amongst the richest in the state of Utah” that “only awaits the plow to yield up its vast treasures.” Advertising described the local climate as “energizing,” and it was claimed that the heavy growth of sagebrush indicated that the land was fertile for farming. Land was sold for US$17.50 per acre, financed at 7 percent interest, with 20 percent down and the remainder paid annually over five years.

Established:

1914

Disestablished:

1917

Current Status:

No one has lived in the area since the Russians left. Some buildings stayed standing for many years, and the pattern of town lots was visible into the 1960s. Today, the main feature that remains is a weathered white picket fence surrounding two graves. Both headstones are in Russian. One grave is of Anna Kalpakoff, who was accidentally shot by her husband. The other is of her sister-in-law, Mary Kalpakoff, who died during childbirth. The current headstones were placed in 1966 by Mary’s son and grandson who resided near Fresno, California. There are also clearly defined foundations, caved-in wells, and various artifacts. A cowboy on horseback fell into an old well here in 1937, barely escaping with his life. A hill just to the northwest is known as Russian Knoll, in honor of the immigrants who once lived in the area.

Remarks:

Repeated crop failures led to the abandonment of the town, beginning in 1915. In August 1916, the stove from the schoolhouse was sent to the Lucin school, and in September the entire school was disassembled and shipped to Promontory. By the end of 1917, Russian Settlement was a ghost town. Most of the settlers returned to the Los Angeles area. Box Elder County residents removed the buildings, moving some to new locations and salvaging the rest for materials.