Historical Society Reminisces with Hiawatha Memories


Courtesy of Wally Baldwin Scrapbook collection

Former Carbon County Treasurer Kay Colosimo shared her memories of growing up in Hiawatha during May’s Carbon County Historical Society meeting.

Hiawatha, founded in the early 20th century as a coal mining town owned by U.S. Fuels Co., is nestled against the base of Gentry Mountain, nearly 17 miles southwest of Price. The town’s development was intimately tied to the mining industry that boomed in the region during the early to mid-20th century, playing a crucial role in supplying coal for industrial use, particularly during World War II.

Colosimo was raised in Hiawatha alongside her half-brother Curtis Johnson by her parents, Sam and Delcina. Her father managed the Amusement Hall, a unique establishment in Hiawatha. The Amusement Hall featured an upstairs skating rink that was also used for basketball and movie nights, while downstairs housed a two-lane bowling alley where patrons set up their own pins.

“I look back and wish that everyone could have grown up there,” said Colosimo.

Hiawatha boasted a variety of amenities beyond the Amusement Hall, including a company store, service station, fire station, churches, a jail, post office, and tennis courts. Nearby was even a dairy farm. However, Colosimo’s father passed away when she was 12, and when she was 18, she and her widowed mother were asked to relocate as the company needed the company houses for the mine employees. They moved to Price, and years later, part of the Amusement Hall burned down.

Colosimo fondly recalled childhood highlights such as riding motorcycles through town and sledding down the hill by the mine.

“I love Price. I wish every kid could have grown up in [Hiawatha],” said Colosimo.

The population of Hiawatha began to decline in the late 20th century. By the early 1990s, the last of the coal mines ceased operation, leaving Hiawatha a ghost town. U.S. Fuels Co. began bulldozing the abandoned homes despite local opposition from a group petitioning for their preservation.

Hiawatha is now private property owned by ANR Company Inc., a corporation lessee based out of Salt Lake City.

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