Mudslide, flooding blocks U.S. 89

Mudslide, flooding blocks U.S. 89


By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor


THISTLE—Flooding and mudslides battered and buried a section of U.S. 89 between Birdseye and Thistle, trapping dozens of drivers and closing the road over the weekend.

Heavy rains caused three mudslides to tumble down the burn scar area of last year’s Pole Creek Fire. More than 6 feet of floodwater covered a portion of the fire-damaged stretch. In other areas, more than 2 feet of mud and rock blanketed the road.

The stretch of U.S. 89 that was damaged was closed Friday night. Then Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) work crews labored through the weekend to clear the highway.

According to UDOT spokesman John Gleason, the crews opened the road ahead of schedule on Sunday evening, but drivers should expect the periodic closures and delays as crews continue to repair damage from the slides.

The Thistle area has a history of flooding and slides. A giant slide in 1982 wiped the town of Thistle off the map, destroying homes and leaving behind a canyon ghost town.

Now only one home remains in Thistle—a newly built home occupied by the Phillip and Hillary Miller family. The Millers home avoided any major damage over the weekend.