Thistle (Utah) was a small community on US-6/89 at the junction of Thistle Creek and Soldier Creek, 16.9 miles (27.20 km) southeast of Springville and ca. 64.8 miles (104.29 km) southeast of Salt Lake City. The settlement was established in 1883 when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad pushed its line through from Denver. Many thistles growing in the area are the impetus for the name. One-hundred years after the establishment of Thistle, Utah experienced it's first and most costly ($200 million) Presidentially-declared disaster.
1982 saw record-breaking precipitation in this area. In the spring of 1983 more hot days followed causing a rapid snow melt. The saturated soil could no longer support the additional moisture and began to slide. Mud began moving down the hillside onto the Rio Grande railroad tracks. Cracks in the pavement also became evident to motorists traveling on nearby U.S. 6/89.