As we prep for the 2012 Freeze Your Tail Off event I decided I was going to do some reading up on Lucin and its history. I’ve visited the site a few dozen times and I’ve read about its history each time but…
Classification: Railroad Town – Ghost Town as of 2012
Name Origin: Derived from the local fossil bivalve, Lucina Subanta
1895 map of Box Elder County, showing Lucin (Lusin) in the center-left
(Source: http://www.livgenmi.com/1895/UT/County/boxelder.htm )
The town of Lucin first planted it roots in 1869 approximately 10 miles to the north of its current location, along the Transcontinental Railroad 1869. By the end of the 19th century, railroad officials were looking to streamline the heavily used Transcontinental RR and identified the detour around the north end of the Great Salt Lake as a major loss in efficiency and resources. Plans were formed and in 1901 construction of the Lucin Cutoff began. The Lucin Cutoff was a direct route across a trestle on the Great Salt Lake, connecting Ogden to the East with the Lucin area to the West. As construction of the cutoff neared completion in 1903, the inhabitants of Lucin migrated to its current resting spot near which is the intersection of the old Transcontinental Railroad and the Lucin Cutoff. Before long “Old Lucin” had been forgotten and Lucin would thrive as a bustling logistics and supply point for the railroad. Commercial traffic started across the cutoff in early 1904 and by late summer 1904, passenger traffic was underway on the quicker route as way. Over the next 30 years Lucin served as a water stop for the trains. Water was collected from the nearby Pilot Mountains and plumbed via a 4″ pipe and collects in a small pond right in the middle of Lucin town proper. As locomotive technology continued to improve, trains needed fewer stops and one by one the stops along the Transcontinental & Lucin Cutoff slowly died off. By the early 30’s there were just a few residents left in Lucin.
Things would change in the 1935 when a group of retired railroad workers and their children, many of which had grown up in the area or worked the rails through Lucin, settled in the now sleepy town. The last of that group moved out in 1972 and the town was officially deserted after over 100 years (between both locations). The town wasn’t dead just yet as in 1997, Lucin had a new resident and a most interesting one at that. Ivo Zdarsky purchased 400 acres of land nearby Lucin after seeing an online real-estate listing. There he lives in a large hangar on the edge of his private airfield. While he is not officially in Lucin proper he is credited as being its only inhabitant. You can read more about Ivo and his property in a recent New York Times article here.
Lucin now consists of remnants of its past life. Several community dugout cellars, an old phone booth, the water pond and the foundations of buildings and homes. The trains still pass through many times each day, however modern engines require little outside help and they don’t even slow their pace or sound their horn (unless you happen to be there camping). Lucin offers some great primitive camping options as well as enough solitude for just about any desert rat. One can visit Lucin in a long day-trip out of Salt Lake or better yet make a loop out of the Old Transcontinental Railroad Route from Brigham City to Wendover. Be sure to check out the Sun Tunnel, Hogup Mountains, Grouse Creek, Bonneville Salt Flats and Spiral Jetty while you’re in the area.