ROCKPORT, Utah (ABC4) – This year’s extreme drought conditions have brought all kinds of hidden items back to the surface in Utah.
In Southern Utah, water levels at Lake Powell have dipped so low that images and videos of shipwrecks, once unseen below the water for years, have been scattered throughout social media during the summer boating recreation period. Last month, a vehicle containing the body of a deceased person was also found and pulled from the water. Authorities stated at the time they believed the vehicle had been there undetected for over a year.
Now, the latest discovery or photo-worthy resurfacing as a result of the rapid decrease in water levels is an entire town that hasn’t been seen above the water in more than 60 years.
Images of the ruins of the town of Rockport, a bustling turn of the century metropolis that once boasted a general store, rock quarry, schoolhouse, and sawmill to serve its peak population of 147 residents were made by drone pilot Devon Dewey, who posted them on his Twitter account.
Last seen in 1957, before the area was flooded by the Wanship Dam to create the Rockport Reservoir, the foundations of the buildings that comprised the tiny town in Summit County are now clearly visible.
According to Utah State Parks spokesperson Devan Chavez, the reemergence of the ruins is both alarming due to the decrease in water levels, but he admits it’s also pretty interesting.
“It is quite a somber thing to think about but it also there’s another side of the coin. It shows us another glimpse back into history,” Chavez says to ABC4.com. “It’s really sad that the water is this low and that it’s impacting people across the state but here’s a little nugget inside this whole thing. It’s reminding us of where we came from.”
While the drone footage from Dewey attracted national attention this month, Eric Bradshaw, who works as the park’s manager says the interest has been building all year as the water continues to disappear, revealing the old structures.
“We have people who want to bring their metal detectors and look around it,” the four-year park veteran says. “This year has had the most action around it I’ve ever seen.”
The water levels at the reservoir can currently boast – or lament – to be at their all-time low, 24% according to Bradshaw. With levels lower than they’ve ever been, Bradshaw explains that a structure he’s never before seen at the reservoir has re-surfaced.
“It’s kinda cool,” he gushes.
While the foundations are reappearing for the first time in decades, the buildings that once stood upon them have likely been seen by many Utahns for years.
Before the area was flooded to form the water recreation area in 1957, the schoolhouse and general store were preserved and moved to the original Pioneer Village near Salt Lake City, which was then moved again to Farmington and placed in the Pioneer Village at Lagoon Amusement Park in the 1970s.
With a bit of restrained excitement at what has been uncovered at Rockport, Chavez adds that it’s “100% possible” that more ruins from the early days of Utah’s settlements could be found. Jordanelle Reservoir, for example, is one place where he is confident ruins will be seen if the water levels drop low enough.
“You very well could see this continue to go on, Rockport is not the only one with remnants of towns or ruins underneath it, there’s a number of reservoirs in Utah that have that,” Chavez explains. “This is just one of the places where it’s got a little more attention because it’s something that people can see from the road or see via drone or flying over. It’s more visible here but if this continues onward, you very well might see it more in other places.”