Kelton, named after a local stockman, became a section station on the first transcontinental railroad in 1869. It was located north of the Great Salt Lake and southwest of present-day Snowville, Utah.
In 1863 John Hailey established a stage route between Salt Lake City and Boise. Kelton was one of the stations along the way. Six years later, when Kelton became the best point to connect to the railroad from Boise, the route became known as the Kelton Road.
You can get to the ghost town of Kelton today in less than four hours. In the 1860s it took a little longer. A stage could make between the two towns in 42 hours. If you were hauling freight, it could take 18 days. Here’s a list of the stage stops along the Kelton Road, courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society’s Reference Series.
Black's Creek (15 miles from Boise)
Baylock (13 miles)
Canyon Creek (12 miles)
Rattlesnake (8 miles)
Cold Springs (12 miles)
King Hill (10 miles)
Clover Creek (11 miles)
Malad (11 miles)
Sand Springs (11 miles)
Snake River at Clark's Ferry (10 miles)
Desert (12 miles)
Rock Creek (13 miles)
Mountain Meadows (14 miles)
Oakley Meadows (12 miles)
Goose Creek Summit (11 miles)
City of Rocks (11 miles)
Raft River (12 miles)
Clear Creek (12 miles)
Crystal Springs (10 miles)
Kelton (12 miles)
Kelton, Utah’s unique position as Idaho’s railway station ended in 1883 when the Oregon Shortline came through Southern Idaho. The end was sudden. By 1884 a traveler on the old route noticed that “grass now grows over the defunct overland Kelton stage road where the weary traveler once traveled in clouds of dust. . ."
Kelton survived until 1942 when the Southern Pacific pulled out the rails that had made the town boom.
You can see ruts through the lava and an old bridge abutment on the Kelton Road at Malad Gorge State Park. Go to the park unit north of the freeway.
You can also soak up some Kelton Road history at Stricker Ranch, operated by the Idaho State Historical Society. Rock Creek Station was there.