iosepa utah

Iosepa, Utah – Hawaiian Ghost Town

Skull Valley, Utah is the site of the West’s only Hawaiian ghost town.  Iosepa was established in 1889 by Mormons and largely populated by Pacific Islanders Mormon converts (Hawaiians).  Mormon missionaries had been sent to Hawaii and Polynesia in the 1850s, and the Mormon converts wanted to be able to participate in sacred rituals (the Salt Lake Temple was being built).  The name of the town, Iosepa, is a variation of “Joseph” in honor of Joseph Smith.  By the way, it wasn’t necessarily easy for the Hawaiians to leave, but sometime in the 1870s emigration restrictions were lifted so the converts could make their way to Utah.

This article was published in the May 2018 issue of Digging History Magazine.