Westwater River Runners Rejoice: General Store Opens in Cisco!


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River runners paddling Utah’s Westwater Canyon can now rest easy if they forgot a costume for “formal night” or even the hot dogs. A new general store has opened up in the booming metropolis (AKA ghost town) of Cisco en route to the take-out.

Called the Buzzard’s Belly General Store, the new drive-by retail store has, well, almost everything a forgetful river runner might need, from popcorn to toilet paper. It also has a selection of used dresses for dress-up night. The only possible complication: its population is officially registered as zero

“We just opened up, but so far so good,” says owner Jean Murawski, originally from Grand Junction, who bought the building a year ago and just opened the store with her husband, Alan, on Sept. 20.

Murawski is hoping that her bread and butter will be river runners stopping by either before or after their run down the iconic Southwest-style 17-mile whitewater run. If it’s the latter, the store also sells, yep, you guessed it, ice cream — a favorite after any river trip.

Murawski also hopes to be a stop on the way for mountain bikers and climbers heading back to Colorado and the Front Range after visiting Moab and taking the Cisco Road “short-cut” back up to I-70.

Cisco is officially a ghost town in Grand County, Utah, near the junction of State Route 128 and Interstate 70. It started in the 1880s as a saloon and water-refilling station for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, complete with stores, hotels and restaurants. Nearby cattle ranchers and sheep herders also used it as a livestock and provisioning center (in the early 1900s, over 100,000 sheep were sheared at Cisco before being shipped to market). Cisco continued to grow when oil and natural gas were discovered, but the town’s decline coincided with the demise of the steam locomotive. Its economy crashed for good when Interstate 70 was built, bypassing Cisco. Still, it survived long enough to be assigned the 84515 zip code. As of the late 2010s, Eileen Muza was the sole ‘resident.’

Cisco Fun Facts You Didn’t Know!

  • Johnny Cashwrote the song Cisco Clifton’s Fillin Station about H. Ballard Harris, a man living in Cisco who owned a gas station with his wife, Maxine.
  • “The Cisco Cliftons” band is composed of one of H. Ballard Harris’s grandsons and was the inspiration for the band name.
  • Cisco was a filming location for the movies Vanishing Point(1971), Thelma and Louise(1991) and Don’t Come Knocking (2005).




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