After camping in Moab and staying in a hostel where I shared a bed with a beetle, my friend tells me we need to stop in this bumblefuck town outside Grand Junction, Colo. It’s a little ways out, but she insists it’s worth it without really giving me an idea of what we're getting into. Apparently, she read there are snakes in this abandoned “ghost town” — but all I’ve seen is a desert vulture with a wingspan that looks to be about 5 feet. I’m weirded out and tired …

We get there and see it’s a standard ghost town. It’s also deadly silent, far from major roads and civilization — which is usually the reason towns become 'ghostly' in the first place, right? Demographics change, the environment runs out of whatever fossil fuel brought people there, and then folks move on. So I take to snapping pictures of the properties, and I’m confused by the fact some of the “get out” signs look new. I spot a Starbucks cup in one of the buildings, I’m beginning to think more people come here than previously thought.

Suddenly, I hear my friend scream. I accidentally drop one of my favorite cameras onto the ground. There's a man behind me with a dog. I debate running, but choose instead to say hi. Come to find out, he is friends with the only living resident of Cisco, Utah — the town we're standing in, what use to be a hub for people traveling out west, a place where you could grab a bite to eat and get cheap gas before it was pushed out by the construction of I-70. By the '80s and '90s, Cisco was no more and shortly after this a woman whose name I can’t remember moved out here from a city I can't remember. She was on vacation at the time, but this friend of hers tells us she is the one taking care of the property. She also hates when people take things. She likes the junk to stay in its place, as it should. Her home blends in with the rest of the town, but I see clean laundry hanging on the line.


There is charm to Cisco. Even with its decrepit buildings, it looks like it can come alive at any moment. I keep listening for a train of cars to make its way through. It has soul. I can see why Johnny Cash wrote a song about it. Why multiple films and TV shows sent their camera crew here. I just wonder how much more this town can take before it turns to dust in the wind.

Words and photographs by Samantha Keller.