Thompson Springs, Utah

Thompson Springs, also officially known for a time as just Thompson, is a small census-designated place in central Grand County, Utah, United States. The population was 39 at the 2010 census.[3] The town is just north of the east-west highway route shared by Interstate 70, U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 50, between Crescent Junction and Cisco. Moab, the county seat, is 37 miles (60 km) to the south. Thompson Springs is located in high desert country at an elevation of 5,246 feet (1,599 m), with the Book Cliffs just to the north. The town's ZIP code is 84540.[4]

Thompson Springs
Thompson Springs, September 2007
Thompson Springs, September 2007
Location in Grand County and the state of Utah
Location in Grand County and the state of Utah
Coordinates: 38°59′00″N 109°42′20″W / 38.98333°N 109.70556°W / 38.98333; -109.70556Coordinates: 38°59′00″N 109°42′20″W / 38.98333°N 109.70556°W / 38.98333; -109.70556
CountryUnited States
Named forE.W. Thompson
 • Total3.19 sq mi (8.25 km2)
 • Land3.19 sq mi (8.25 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation5,246 ft (1,599 m)
 • Total39
 • Density12/sq mi (4.7/km2)
ZIP code
Area code(s)435
FIPS code49-76180
GNIS feature ID2584780[1]


Evidence of human habitation or use of the Thompson Springs area can be dated back to the Archaic Period, when beautiful pictographs were left in Thompson Canyon. Subsequent Anasazi, Fremont, and Ute tribes have also left their mark upon the area. The site of this rock art in Thompson Canyon has been designated as the Thompson Wash Rock Art District.

The former Thompson station was last used in 1997 and was demolished in early 2016, October 2006 photograph.

Thompson Springs was named for E.W. Thompson, who lived near the springs and operated a sawmill to the north near the Book Cliffs.[5][6] The town began life in the late nineteenth century as a station stop on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), which had been completed through the area in 1883. A post office at the site was established in 1890, under the name "Thompson's". (The official designation by the United States Postal Service is still "Thompson".)[7] The town was a community center for the small number of farmers and ranchers living in the inhospitable region, and it was also a prominent shipping point for cattle that were run in the Book Cliffs area. Stockmen from both San Juan and Grand counties used Thompson.

Thompson gained importance in the early twentieth century due to the development of coal mines in Sego Canyon, north of town. Commercial mining in Sego Canyon began in 1911, and that year the Ballard and Thompson Railroad was constructed to connect the mines with the railhead at Thompson. The railroad branch line and mines continued operating until about 1950.

For many years the city was served by various D&RGW passenger trains, including the Scenic Limited, the Exposition Flyer, the Prospector, the California Zephyr, and the Rio Grande Zephyr. Although Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) took over nearly all passenger rail service in the United States in 1971, the D&RGW continued service through the area until 1983. Subsequently, for the next fourteen years, the city was served by various Amtrak trains, including the California Zephyr, the Desert Wind, and the Pioneer.

Construction of I-70 two miles south of Thompson Springs drew traffic away from the city as the former Old Cisco Highway (US 6 and US-50)[8] (now named Frontage Road) was no longer used. The later movement of the passenger train stop about 25 miles (40 km) to the west in Green River (Green River station) in 1997 led to further economic hardship for Thompson Springs.[Note 1]

The original name for this settlement was "Thompson Springs", a name that was reinstated in 1985.[9] Much of the town is uninhabited today, although there are still some operating businesses in the immediate vicinity of I-70.[12]

The Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project is a uranium tailings removal and relocation project that promises to bring jobs to the area as tailings from the Atlas Mineral Company's tailings ponds outside of Moab will be moved to Crescent Junction, about 6 miles (10 km) west of Thompson Springs.[13]


As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 39 people living in the CDP. There were 43 housing units. The racial makeup of the town was 94.9% White, and 5.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0% of the population.


While the community is situated just north of Interstate 70/U.S. Route 6/U.S. Route 50 (I‑70/US‑6/US‑50), the community is connected to that transportation corridor by State Route 94, which runs south from the center of town to an interchange with I‑70/US‑6/US‑50. Prior to the construction of I‑70, the I‑70/US‑6/US‑50 ran through the center of town,

Thompson Wash Rock Art DistrictEdit

Fremont petroglyphs in Thompson Canyon, July 2010 photograph

The Thompson Wash Rock Art District (which is also referred to as the Sego Canyon Rock Art Interpretive Site by the Bureau of Land Management) is an archeological site located in Thompson Canyon (about 3.5 miles [5.6 km] north of Thompson Springs) that was named after Thompson Wash and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district includes several well-preserved groups petroglyphs (images etched into the rock surface) and pictographs (images painted onto the rock surface) left by early Native Americans in three different styles (each with their own panel): Fremont, Ute and Barrier Canyon.[14][15] As such it provides fairly rare opportunity to compare all three the styles in one location,[16] particularly a site that is easily accessible.[17] Some of the images may date back more than 4000 years.[18] The Fremont culture thrived from A.D. 600 to 1250 and was contemporary with the Anasazi culture of the Four Corners area. The Archaic period dated from 7000 B.C., while the Barrier Canyon period from around 400 A.D., and the Ute tribe dating from A.D. 1300.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Although some sources claim that the former Thompson Station closed in 1994,[9] Amtrak's timetable shows that Thompson was still a flag stop on both the California Zephyr and Desert Wind in late 1996 (but does not include the Green River station).[10] However, by 1997 (after the Desert Wind was discontinued) the timetable shows the California Zephyr stopping at Green River (and no longer shows a stop at Thompson).[11]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Thompson Springs
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  3. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Thompson Springs CDP, Utah". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved 28 Mar 2017.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Thompson Springs Utah History & Travel Info". Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  5. ^ Van Cott, John W. (1990). Utah Place Names: A Comprehensive Guide to the Origins of Geographic Names: A Compilation. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-87480-345-7. OCLC 797284427.
  6. ^ Van Cott, John W. "History of Thompson Springs, Utah". Retrieved 16 Jun 2020.
  7. ^ "Look Up a Zip Code - 84540". United States Postal Service. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  8. ^ "About Thompson Springs". UntraveledRoad. Retrieved 7 Jul 2014.
  9. ^ a b Weiser, Kathy. "UTAH LEGENDS: Thompson Springs - Dying in the Desert". Legends of America. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013. Though the railroad still runs through Thompson today, the final death knell occurred when Thompson's flag stop station, which provided service for Amtrak travelers, was finally closed in 1994.
  10. ^ "Amtrak National Timetable: Fall/Winter 1996/97". Amtrak. 10 Nov 1996. p. 38. Retrieved 21 Oct 2013.
  11. ^ "Amtrak National Timetable: Spring/Summer 1997". Amtrak. 11 May 1997. p. 40. Retrieved 21 Oct 2013.
  12. ^ "Thompson Springs". 2 Oct 2011. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  13. ^ "Moab, Utah, UMTRA Project". Environmental Management at Grand Junction - United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 29 Jul 2013.
  14. ^ "Sego Canyon Rock Art Interpretive Site". Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Johnson, Jeff (February 4, 2019). "Sego Canyon Rock Art - Sego Utah". Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  16. ^ Sullivan, Gordan and Cathie (2005). "Sego Canyon Rock-Art Site". Roadside Guide to Indian Ruins & Rock Art of the Southwest. Englewood, Colorado: Westcliff Publishers. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-1-56579-481-8. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  17. ^ Lochmoeller, Todd (May 8, 2012). "Four Corners Hikes-Arches National Park: Sego Canyon Rock Art". Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  18. ^ Jenkins, Kyle. "Sego Canyon: Thompson Springs". Retrieved June 7, 2020.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Thompson Springs, Utah at Wikimedia Commons