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American Southwest (#14): Cisco Ghost Town, La Sal Loop, Utah

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Uploaded on Aug 3, 2011

Cisco ... started as a watering stop for the railroad's steam engines in the 1880s. As work crews, and later travelers, came through, stores, hotels and restaurants sprang up to accommodate them. Nearby cattle ranchers, and sheep herders in the Book Cliffs north of town began using Cisco as a livestock and provisioning center.
Around the turn of the century over 100,000 sheep were sheared here before being shipped to market. Then oil and natural gas were discovered. For awhile Cisco was the largest producer in Utah. People began traveling more and Cisco continued to grow. Then the bottom fell out. A declining economy crashed when I-70 came through and by-passed Cisco altogether.
La Sal Loop & Castle Valley
From our journal ... Jostling past the horde of cyclists we entered Castle Valley (5,000 ft.) ... to no great surprise, just as congested with cyclists. The valley was narrow and long ... perhaps 12 miles ... just below the lower Porcupine Mountain range. This is ranching country ... mainly cattle. On our left was the region's namesake icon ... Castle Peak (left, top). We followed this valley until the road turned to County Road 73 and started gaining elevation. Switchbacks, narrow shoulders and continued bike traffic made for slow going. Near the summit of Bald Mesa (7,200 ft.) we stopped at a viewpoint and glanced back. View was breathtaking - one for the senses (left, bottom). We continued taking this circuitous route ... over Wilson Mesa then South Mesa. The road tuned to gravel ... rough and hard as the breached Brumley Ridge and started our descent ... road was now Country Road 127, La Sal Loop Road . The views from this road were of the Moab Rim in the distance ... part of the rift valley. Then the road was again paved, of adequate condition and devoid of all traffic. Descent was rapid, followed Pack Creek and eventually leveled off in Spanish Valley near Hwy. 191 ... the main southern road to Moab.

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