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Where Memories Linger WRITTEN BY Kim Konikow

Back and Forth

(A Ghost Story) – Lyrics Red Rock Rondo - Zion Canyon Song Cycle In the year Jesse James robbed his first bank     And Butch Cassidy was born Three little girls went to ride the swing      In the frontier town of Grafton The ’62 flood and the Indian wars      Were not enough to kill them They loved to go swing back and forth      As long as God was willing Lizzie went with Lettie and Sarah      To ride the swing at the old cotton gin She swung back and forth with Sara in her lap      Then said, “Run home just as fast as you can” Before Sarah got home she heard and awful crash      The old log at the top had come down They dressed Lizzie and Lettie in long white dresses      And Sarah saw them laid in the ground Back and forth, forth and back they swing Back and forth, forth and back, can’t change a thing      Now they surely know      It’s their fate to go Back and forth from one world to the other The year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs      Vilo Demille was playing Run Sheepie Run The children of Grafton ran to hide      While she shut her eyes, then she opened them wide And saw two pale girls in long white dresses      Hair clear down to their waist She tried to give chase but they went through the fence      And disappeared into space Back and forth, forth and back we come Back and forth, forth and back we go      From one world to the other      Through the veil between Back and forth we go to one another Back and forth we come Back and forth we go © 2006 Phillip Bimstein

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the year Jesse James robbed his first bank, and

Butch C assidy was born, three little girls went to ride the swing in the frontier town of G rafton. The ’62 flood and the I ndian wars, were not enough to kill them. They loved to go swing back and forth as long as G od was willing...”


ust south of Zion National Park, and through the beautiful little town of Rockville, lies Grafton, one of Utah’s most famous ghost towns. A few buildings, both original and restored, stand in good condition along tree-lined fields by the banks of the Virgin River. Ask anyone who lives in Zion Canyon; they can point the way, along with a lively story or two. In 1859, five families from Virgin established the small settlement of Wheeler, but a week long flood of the Virgin River destroyed it in 1862. Moving about a mile upstream, the families called their home New Grafton, after Grafton, Massachusetts. Only two years later the small town was home to 28 families and supported approximately 168 people, the most prosperous community in the Upper Virgin River Basin. There were a number of log houses, a post office, a church and a combination school/ community hall. Each family farmed about one acre of land in narrow strips beside the river, with irrigation canals providing water for cotton fields, fruit and nut orchards, and gardens. The community built dams and diverted water into the canals; they were able to grow cotton, and silk, but most of the land was given over to personal food growth. By 1865 raising cattle and other animals

became even more important. The Virgin River was untamable, and often betrayed them during periods of intense flooding, leaving behind destruction and erosion. When Washington County was created in 1852 it stretched 600 horizontal miles across the entire southern edge of the Utah territory. In January 1864, Kane County was created out of Washington County, including all of the communities along the Upper Virgin River, with Grafton named as the County Seat. In 1882 the boundary between Washington and Kane counties moved east again, and Grafton “returned” to Washington County, along with nearby Virgin. The Black Hawk War (1865-72) was the most destructive conflict between pioneer immigrants and Native Americans in Utah’s history. Adverse feelings erupted into violence when a small gathering of Utes and frontiersmen met in Sanpete County to settle a cattle dispute. A dynamic young Native named Black Hawk left abruptly, promising retaliation. He succeeded in uniting factions of the Ute, Paiute and Navajo tribes into a loose confederacy bent on obtaining cattle, but travelers and settlers were also killed. In 1866, Grafton families moved, along with many disassembled homes, across the river to Rockville for protection from the increased

Photo of Kirsten Fredrickson by Rick Wright. woman


Saving the Past for the Future. “Do not remove the ancient landmark that your ancestors have set.” P roverbs 22:28


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Amidst the grandeur of Zion National Park 435.772.3510 * 801 Zion Park Blvd. * Springdale, Utah

threat of Indian attacks. Each day the men returned to tend their farms and gardens, but the town remained vacant for two years. Only a few returned in 1868, after another devastating flood. The majority of Grafton’s descendants trace their heritage from these families. The town maintained until the 1930’s, when most of the residents moved to better land in Hurricane. Grafton’s overwhelming beauty has not been lost on Hollywood location scouts. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross, certainly made Grafton famous, as many scenes from the 1969 movie were filmed there. Ramrod also boasts a great deal of footage from Grafton, with a story line focused on feuding cattlemen and sheep herders, starred film legends Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea. First convened in June 1997, the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project is a nonprofit that unites the interests of federal, state, local governments, private landowners and community groups to effectively work toward preserving and enhancing Grafton as an historic site for the benefit of present and future generations. Set in the shadow of Zion National Park, the once-bustling Grafton is now a ghost town, honoring the hard work that characterized its early settlers. It is here, in the midst of dramatic, colorful cliffs, that the history of the wild west has left a subtle mark. Locals frequent the grounds to honor the stories so often told by their elders. And if you are still, you may feel the presence of the “two pale girls in long white dresses” at play…

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For Modern Photos Grafton Heritage Partnership For Historical Information and Photos, Special Thanks to: Ronald L. Morris - 801-360-9039 Zion Canyon Song Cycle Red Rock Rondo

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When not traveling East for business or teaching, Kim chairs the Washington County Arts Council and works with many artists and arts groups to achieve sustainable futures.

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Below: An 1880 land record of Grafton, the earliest one available.

Where Memories Linger  

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