Article Contribution by Alice DeFriez, Wasatch County Library

What was once a thriving community, Pony Express stop, and WWII Japanese relocation camp, Keetley Utah, is now a watery ghost town.  It was approximately where the current Mayflower exit is on US 40 to the marina.

Keetley was a small mining town, part of Park City’s mining boom when ore was discovered in 1872. The town was named after John ‘Jack’ Keetley, who grew up in Marysville, Kansas.

In his youth, as a pony express rider, he was known for completing the longest ride without stopping, except to change horses.  He rode 300 miles in twenty-four hours.

In the 1940’s a small group of Japanese Americans came voluntarily to Keetley from California. This was due to the fact President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066. Authorizing the removal of 122,000 Japanese, U.S. citizens and aliens, from the West Coast to the interior of the U.S. in February 1942.

Most  of  140 Japanese-Americans who came to Keetley were 2nd generation Americans. This executive order was later deemed unconstitutional. 

A prosperous 35 year old Oakland produce dealer named Fred Isamu Wada, whose wife Masako was from Ogden,   decided to  visit Utah to  investigate possible areas for relocation for himself and other California Japanese. Wada struck a bargain with Keetley’s  mayor George Fisher, leasing land from him in exchange for a promise to bring Japanese to the area as farm labor. Wada described it as “hell” having to move 50 tons of rock for 150 Acres of land. Once the War ended about two-thirds of the Keetley residents  returned  to their homes in California following the last harvest.

By  1952  the  golden   days  of  mining  in  the  Keetley  area  had  faded.  The  ore  no  longer  earned  top  dollar  on  the  market,  and  the strikes lead minders to seek work elsewhere.

In the 1970’s there became a growing need for water along the Wasatch Front.  The Central Utah Water Project made a proposal, and the rest is history. Construction on the Jordanelle Reservoir began in 1986.

The old 2 lane U.S. 40 was rerouted to  our current 4 lane highway and was completed in the mid 1990’s. In 1995 The Jordanelle Dam was filled and Keetley was no more!

Hideout has a connection with the historic connection with Keetley. While the actual town itself is now submerged under the Jordanelle Reservoir, the surrounding area is now home to new developments including our town of Hideout, Todd Hollow and Deer Mountain.

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