Originally known as Pleasant Valley Junction, Colton was established in late 1882 by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad at the point where a branch line connected to the coal mines at Scofield and Winter Quarters. In the mid-1890s, Pleasant Valley Junction was renamed Colton after railroad official William F. Colton. By this time, the community had hotels, stores, and saloons, as well as a railroad depot, roundhouse, turntable, and bunkhouses. In addition to coal, cattle were shipped from local ranches, and soon a stone school was erected.

In 1904, ozokerite was discovered and the Utah Ozokerite Company was formed to begin work on what would become the world's largest mine for that substance. By March 1905, a new mill was erected. By 1915, there were talks of making Colton a railroad division point, but Soldier Summit was chosen instead.

By the late 1940s, ozokerite mining was coming to a close as the waxy substance was largely replaced by petroleum products. By the 1950s, diesel engines largely replaced steam locomotives and Colton was no longer a necessary stop. It was soon abandoned. Today, only ruins of the school remain at the site, though an old general store (unpictured) was relocated from the townsite to along Highway 6 to serve travelers, though it too appears to have been closed for some time.