Abandoned Buildings and Dark History of Circleville, Utah

Circleville, Utah is a charming little town in Piute County with a checkered past. Abandoned buildings along Main Street serve as weathered reminders of its beginnings as a frontier settlement, the site of the infamous Circleville Massacre and hometown of the notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy. 

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

Southern Utah is abundant with beautiful abandoned buildings from the frontier era. As I made my way eastward, I couldn't resist stopping to check them out. After snapping a few pictures of old mining structures in Antimony and Junction, Utah, I made a quick detour in Circleville to grab lunch and take in the town's beauty. 

I ate at Circleville Cafe, a great little spot with a comfortable atmosphere and delicious food at a very reasonable price. I had a nice conversation with the gals that worked there, and then proceeded to make an ass of myself by spilling my soda. Classic Jim.

If you're ever in the area, you should definitely stop at Circleville Cafe. And be sure to order a slice of pie; it's excellent.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

After lunch, I strolled down Main Street, past several vacant businesses.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

The old Circle Valley Cafe and Motel building was apparently being used as a storage space, or maybe the owner was preparing for renovations.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

I paid my respects at the Veterans Memorial.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Though it could be mistaken for a ghost town due to the neat abandoned buildings along its main thoroughfare, Circleville is very much alive, with a population that has hovered around 500 for much of its existence. 

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

The town was founded in 1864 by Mormon settlers, who named it for the circular shape of the valley in which it sits. 

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

The increasing number of settlements in the area led to heightened tensions between settlers and natives, culminating in the The Black Hawk War, which lasted from 1865 to 1872. Atrocities were committed by both sides, and the Circleville Massacre was among the worst. 

Circleville had existed for less than a year when members of the Ute tribe raided the town, seizing cattle and killing several men who attempted to resist. Several months later, after hearing reports of a violent confrontation at a nearby fort, the residents of Circleville grew ever more worried about their safety. They became so suspicious of natives that they decided to arrest and imprison a local camp of friendly Paiute people with whom they had previously traded, even though the Paiutes were enemies of the Utes that had previously raided the town.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

One young tribesman resisted and was killed. The rest were led to town at gun point and tied up in the meeting house. Two men attempted to escape their bindings and were killed by the guards. The surviving members of the tribe, including women and children, were then locked up in a cellar. The townspeople held a meeting and decided that, in order to protect themselves, they would execute the prisoners. One by one, they released the imprisoned members of the Paiute tribe and slit their throats.

A terrified mother ordered her daughter and two sons to run for their lives. They managed to escape the cellar and find shelter in a cave, where they were discovered the next day. The daughter and one of the boys were killed. The other boy was taken to a nearby town and sold in exchange for a horse. He is the only survivor of the massacre, in which an estimated 26 people were killed. 

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

Circleville was abandoned in 1866 due to the ongoing dangers of Black Hawk War, but was reestablished in 1874 by Charles Wakeman Dalton, a Mormon settler, and his two wives.

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

Abandoned Buildings in Circleville and Junction UT

You've probably heard of Circleville's most famous resident, Robert Leroy Parker, who is better known by his alias, Butch Cassidy. The notorious bank robber, train robber, and leader of the Wild Bunch outlaw gang, grew up a mile outside of Circleville in the 1870s and 80s. His childhood home is apparently still standing, though I didn't see it while I was there.

I bid goodbye to Circleville and headed into Junction, a few miles to the north, where I caught sight of some beautiful abandoned homes. On the way out of town, I drove past a neat old abandoned church. I would've loved to take a closer look, but several dogs approached from the neighboring lot, warning me to keep my distance.

I followed the highway until I came to an incredible sight: a railway graveyard at the base of Big Rock Candy Mountain. Come back next week for the details!

Abandoned Church in Junction UT

Abandoned Church in Junction UT

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Abandoned Buildings in Circleville UT

16 comments :

  1. We're familiar with this area. Love the interesting buildings--some of those would make terrific residences. And I love the SMALL homes there--that's more my style.
    You have had a pretty great trip. Looking forward to the next post.

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    1. Thank you :) I'm not sure why so many buildings along Main Street ended up abandoned. I found them quite adorable.

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  2. Interesting article, but most of the photo's were of abandoned homes and buildings in neighboring Junction UT.

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    1. Thank you for pointing that out. My mistake.

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    2. Yeah. The white house with the green door was my G grandfather John Goulding's house. I was there just last summer. I was surprised it was still there. There is a road with many fine old abandoned houses on the north side of town. This is a good site.

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  3. Your stories are somewhat true. Same about the story of widstoe. Where are you getting your information?

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    1. I got much of my information about the Circleville Massacre from a Utah government website: http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/american_indians/circlevillemassacre.html

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  4. I am from Circleville Utah and I think the story was great to read. Thank you

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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  5. The Parker home is a cabin at the mouth of the canyon as before you enter Circleville. It is to the west and a field is between it and the road. I grew up just down the road and we use walk their once in awhile!

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    1. Thanks for the info! It seems like a peaceful place to grow up. If I'm in the area again, I'll be sure to look for the Parker home.

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  6. Maybe come back and get photos from Circleville. I only saw Grandpa D's store, nothing about the actual Butch home.

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  7. I was born and raised in Junction, and loved your article!! I have heard the massacre story several times over the years from my Grandpa and my Dad. The old Parker home (cabin) is still standing in a field just barely out of Circleville to the south, at the opening of Circleville canyon. While it's true that many of your photos of old homes are from Junction I found your info accurate and very enjoyable. Thanks for noticing our beautiful little towns and for the great pictures and article!!

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    1. Thank you! It's such a beautiful area. I wish I'd done more research before I went there so I would have known where to find the Parker cabin. Unfortunately my geotags got a bit mixed up, which is why I confused my Circleville and Junction photos.

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  8. I have heard in the past few months that there is someone or some organization that is going to restore the Parker home.

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    1. Thanks, Scott. I'll have to look into that.

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