This week our Sunday Drive features the ghost town of Babylon located on the shores of the Virgin River inside the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
It’s a fairly easy off-road drive, the most challenging portion of which involves soft sand. A stock SUV could easily make the trip but caution should be exercised.
Babylon was founded in 1877 and is the town that was associated with the Stormont Mill which was connected to the mining operations at Silver Reef.
There were no businesses in the town other than the mill which was built to mill the silver ore being mined just a few miles away at Silver Reef.
About 20 families and a total of 40 to 50 people called the area home for a little over a decade while the mill was in operation. In 1887 the Stormont Mining Company closed the mill and shortly after the town of Babylon that surrounded it was abandoned.
For nearly 100 years Babylon was just a ghost town but in the early 1980s John Vought, an official in the U.S. State Department purchased the land with the intent of building a retirement home amongst the ruins of Babylon.
During construction, however, the home caught fire and burned to the ground leading Vought to abandon the project.
Today the ruins of the Vought home still remain and one wall, of the old Stormont Mill still stands. The foundations of several stone cabins and the remnants of a few mine shafts can also be found in the area.
The land is now part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Numerous hiking trails can also be found along the road to the ghost town. With a little exploration you’ll find petroglyphs, arches, and if you’re lucky perhaps a desert tortoise in the area.
To get to Babylon, head north on Main Street in Leeds, past the turn for Silver Reef and then take a right on Babylon Road (900 North.) You’ll follow the road past a few trailheads until you reach Babylon and the Virgin River.
Click below to follow links and read more:
Washington County Historical Society article on Babylon: https://wchsutah.org/towns/babylon.php
Washington County Historical Society article on the John Vought Home: https://wchsutah.org/homes/babylon-house.php
Red Cliffs Desert Reserve: http://www.redcliffsdesertreserve.com/
Learn more about the history of Silver Reef and mining in southern Utah: http://www.silverreefutah.org/