Ghost Town: Shanty Town - Emery County


Moderator & Supporting Member
Site: Shanty Town
Alternate Names: MK Tunnels
County, State: Emery County, Utah
Years of Occupation: 1947 to ~1950
Status of Site: Open (BLM)
Classification: Class 1 - Barren Town
Type: Military
Remnants: Very few remnants beyond the tunnels themselves.
GPS Coordinate:
Shanty Town Site (approximate): 39°10'1.15" N 110°45'7.09" W
Powder House: 39°10'4.23" N 110°44'16.60" W
MK Tunnels: 39° 9'30.52" N 110°42'58.68" W
Date of Last Visit: 11/30/14

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Shanty Town site circa ~1948 - Looking westward towards MK Tunnel site explosion

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Site as it appears today, looking westward towards MK Tunnel site

Very little remains of this once busy "town" but the history there is exciting just the same. Shanty Town was erected in 1947 in order to house the workers and building materials for the MK Tunnels being constructed by the Morrison Knudsen company under contract of the US Department of Defense. These tunnels were shrouded with mystery and intrigue as the DOD released very little information throughout the projects duration. What was eventually known is that the tunnels were dug in attempts to find suitable locations for underground missile bases, a popular subject during Cold War. The tunnels were eventually tested against surface attacks using 320,000 pounds of TNT explosives and as one can imagine, the sandstone shattered leaving giant portals from the the surface above down into the tunnels. The project was a failure and the site was soon abandoned. The town's tar paper shacks and buildings were razed or left to the elements, nothing more than random nails and milled wood exists now at the site. A single room dugout into the side of a small hill nearby the site still stands. This structure was the powder house for the explosives used during the construction of the tunnels. This is the only known structure still visible from Shanty Town. The tunnels themselves have become a popular destination for those traveling in the northern San Rafael Swell, you can read more about them here on ExpeditionUtah: MK Tunnels.

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Shanty Town & MK Tunnel site layout

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MK Tunnel Site Information

References/Further Reading:



(Map Courtesy of Emery County)

Additional Pictures:

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Powder House at Shanty Town area
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Misc. building material remnants at approximate Shanty Town site

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Lower MK Tunnel in background
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