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Historic Helper

Photo by Steve Maxfield

Historic Helper

Quick Facts: Helper art galleries, river, museum and retail
Location: Southeastern Utah 120 mi. from Salt Lake City on Highway 6

How many towns can boast that nearly every building on Main Street is on the National Historic Register? Helper, Utah can. Now a home for the arts, the town was once the hub of Utah's transportation and mining industries.

Stores and banks built in the 1900s are now artists' galleries, Airbnb's, retail, restaurants & home to the annual Helper Arts Music & Film Festival as well as Utah's Christmas Town Celebration. Helper Mining and Railroad Museum remind visitors of the town that once was. Guarded by the 18-foot fiberglass coal miner, "Big John" and hugged by railroad tracks, Helper, Utah is a historic town with blue-collar roots that have grown into a walkable epicenter of art and culture with easy access to trails and river recreation.

 

Dark Sky Community

In April of 2020 Helper City announced it's induction into the International Dark Sky Association. The town rallied its locals to protect and share its natural dark skies, leading to its certification of being an International Dark Sky Community. Helper's nearby Dark Sky Observers lead regular astronomy programs and special events in the area. International dark sky community certification gives Helper support to grow dark skies programs and creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism. Follow the official Facebook page of Helper's astronomy club for information and events 

River Revitalization

Through the amazing efforts of Helper City and RiverRestoration, Helper has secured over $700,000 in grant funding that will allow the river to restore boat and fishing passage, improve water quality, enhance access, and build community stewardship of the river. Many locals including the local USUE students, often plan fun tubing, kayaking, and paddleboard activities at the river during the warmer months in the Corridor. Don't forget your kayak or tube the next time you visit Helper. The best put in spot starts at North Martin Road in Helper and takes you to the "beach" part of the restoration project just behind the Balance Rock Eatery.

Outlaws

Outlaws like Butch Cassidy and Matt Warnefrequented the area. In the late 1800's the "dirty dozen" and Cassidy's "wild bunch" made their homes in the plateaus of southeastern Utah. In fact, one of the boldest robberies in US history was pulled off in the Corridor close to Helper in the small town of Castle Gate. Butch Cassidy was the mastermind behind the Castle Gate Payroll Robbery, the most daring robbery of all time. 

Railroad and Coal Mining

Carbon and Emery Counties have been the center of mining and railroad activity in Utah. Throughout history, there have been over 30 operating coal mines. Around each mine, there was a community of hard-working miners and their families. Thousands of immigrants gathered from around the world. On May 1st, 1900, 200 coal miners were killed in the Winter quarters Coal Mine disaster. The 5th largest mine disaster in United States history.

Helper received its name from the helper engines that pulled the trains over the steep mountain passes. The Carbon Corridor was once a criss-cross of the railroad tracks, as most of the mines used trains to transport coal. The Helper Mining and Railroad Museum chronicles the area's history. It has become an amazing resource of exhibits, photographs, written accounts, and histories.