Story Rock Petroglyph

Story Rock
Polynesian Petroglyphs
Iosepa Ghost Town

           Story Rock is located in Skull Valley on the side of Salt Mountain above the Polynesian ghost town of Iosepa. The petroglyphs are interesting because they depict tropical and oceanic images. No trip to Story Rock is complete without spending a few minutes in the Iosepa Cemetery learning the history of the people that carved the images and settled the town.

Circle of Friends:
          Story Rock Petroglyphs is part of the "Circle of Friends" program. Members of the "Circle of Friends" have access to more specific information, explicit route information, GPS waypoints, trailhead location and detailed maps. If you would like more information on joining the "Circle of Friends" visit the sign up page.

 "Circle of Friends"

Story Rock Polynesian Petroglyphs Story Rock Petroglyph

General Information:
          Story Rock Petroglyphs consist of a large rock covered with Polynesian petroglyphs and a visit to the ghost town of Iosepa. A GPS is required to locate the Story Rock Petroglyphs. Navigation for this route is moderate. Story Rock Petroglyphs are rated 1A I using the Canyon Rating System.

Story Rock Petroglyph Story Rock Petroglyph

Trailhead Information:
          The trailhead is located approximately 50 miles west of Salt Lake City and is accessible to all vehicles in all weather conditions.

Story Rock Petroglyph Iosepa Ghost Town Cemetery

Iosepa History:
Iosepa was established in Skull Valley in 1889 as a community for Hawaiian members of the Mormon faith who wished to immigrate to Utah to be close to the temples and headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Iosepa lasted as a community until 1917 at which time the residents returned to Hawaii where the Hawaiian LDS Temple was under construction. The LDS Church paid the travel expenses for those who could not afford to pay themselves.

          Iosepa (pronounced "Yo-see-pa"), meaning Joseph in Hawaiian was named after the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. The colony was undertaken as a joint stock company incorporated as the Iosepa Agriculture and Stock Company. The LDS Church actually owned the company although individuals subscribed for the stock and held it in trust for the church.

          The first group of forty-six settlers arrived on 28 August 1889 and drew lots for the land they were to occupy. Additional settlers arrived, built houses, a schoolhouse, a general store, and an irrigation system which drew water from the Stansbury Mountains to water a variety of crops including beets, wheat, oats, barley, corn, potatoes, and squash. By 1901 the population stood at about 80 and reached 228 by 1915.

          A majority of the residents were Hawaiians, but other island groups were represented as well. The Polynesians raised pigs and fished in local ponds to supplement the crops they grew. A few Anglos resided in the town, working as supervisors on the Skull Valley farm. Most residents worked small farms or were employed by the Mormon Church farm in Skull Valley. The colony was not self-sustaining and LDS Church leaders were forced to allocate church funds to cover expenses. Following a series of crop failures, many of the men began to work in the gold and silver mines which prospered in the nearby mountains during the late 1890s.

          In addition to economic difficulties, there were other problems for the settlement. In 1896 three cases of leprosy were discovered and the victims were isolated in a special house, although fears of the spread of leprosy were unfounded. The harsh environment--burning heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter--took its toll on the settlers, as witnessed by the large number of graves in the cemetery.

          When the Hawaiian Mormons left Iosepa for Hawaii, many of them settled on the church plantation at Laie, Oahu. Iosepa was sold in 1917 to a livestock company. The cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

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