Castle on the Frontier
The Arizona Strip is a vast, thirsty land. But at Pipe Spring, where this free-flowing spring has attracted wayfarers and settlers for many centuries, water is abundant.
Prehistoric Basketmaker and Pueblo Indians lived near the spring over a thousand years ago. Later the Paiutes, nomadic Indians of the Great Basin, camped at the spring during their yearly migrations. Here they hunted rabbit and deer and gathered pinon nuts, grass seeds, and prickly pear for food. The first known white men to enter the area were Fathers Francisco Dominguez and Silvestre Veliz de Escalante who passed within eight miles of Pipe Spring in 1776. In October 1858 the spring was "discovered" by Mormon missionaires enroute to the Hopi Pueblo to the southeast.
Pipe Spring, and the lush native grasses in nearby Pipe Valley, were soon put to use by the Mormons. In 1863 Dr. James M. Whitmore, a Mormon convert and cattleman from Texas, began ranching at Pipe Spring. Whitmore and his herder, Robert McIntyre, built a temporary shelter, and added ponds, grape vines, and fences. On January 11, 1866, both men were killed by Navajo raiders who crossed the Colorado River to drive off stock. The Navajos, with their lightning attacks, drove settlers from St. George and other communities east of the Virgin River. In 1868 the Utah Militia settled at Pipe Spring to keep the marauders south of the Colorado.
Peace between the Navajos and Mormons returned in 1870 when Jacob Hamblin, and the western explorer Major John Wesley Powell signed a treaty with the Indians at Fort Defiance, Arizona. Brigham Young, president of the Mormon Church, became interested in Pipe Spring as a location for the church's Southern Utah tithing herd, the cattle contributed by Mormon families as a tenth of their income. By chance, Young, Hamblin, and Powell met at Pipe Spring on September 12, 1870. Young made plans to build a fort to protect the valuable water supply, the grazing grounds, and those "called" by the church to serve there.
Building began in late 1870. Joseph W. Young, President of the Stake of Zion at St. George, was initially in charge of construction, but Anson Perry Winsor was soon appointed superintendent of the ranch and diligently attended to the construction of the fort that was to bear his name. Winsor Castle consisted of two rectangular, 2-story houses with walls connecting their ends to form a courtyard. Building stone was quarried from the red sandstone cliffs west of the fort, and lumber was hauled from a nearby sawmill.
Church members from the territory helped pay their tithing by working on the fort. Before the big building was completed in early 1872, two smaller ones were added. The rock cabin built by the militia in 1868 was extended by adding another small rock house and connecting their roofs. The Winsor family lived here while waiting to move into the fort. The other building, west of the fort, quartered the workers.
A.P. Winsor collected tithing cattle and purchased more to build up a sizable herd. Under his sure hand Pipe Spring produced cheese, butter, and beef. Some was delivered to the Southern Utah Tithing Office for workers building the St. George Temple. The remainder was sold wherever a market developed. In 1879, when the manager was Charles Pulsipher, the ranch had 2,269 head of cattle and 162 horses worth over $54,000.
Pipe Spring declined in importance in the 1880s, but continued to be an active church ranch for most of the decade. It was a popular stop-over along the trail between the Virgin River towns and the Colorado River. The trail by the fort became known as the Honeymoon Trail because so many young couples traveled it returning home after being married in the St. George Temple. During the period of turmoil over polygamous marriage and the resulting threat of Federal confiscation of church property, the Mormons decided to sell the ranch. In 1888, D. F. Saunders, a non-Mormon cattleman, became the owner. The ranch changed hands several times, then in 1906 Jonathan Heaton and Sons from nearby Moccasin, bought 40 acres, the buildings, and water rights. The Heaton family owned the ranch until Charles Heaton interested Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service, in the significance of Pipe Spring “as a memorial of western pioneer life”. Pipe Spring was proclaimed a national monument by President Warren G. Harding on May 31, 1923.
Cows and Cowboys
By the end of the Civil War Americans had settled the tier of States west of the Mississippi River. Further to the west was a vast, trackless grassland that stretched to the Rocky Mountains. Even to the hardy pioneers this prairie seemed fit only for buffalo and Indians. There was little water for raising crops and ten thousand seasons of grasses had built up a sod that was almost impenetrable to the plow. In the phrase of the day, this was "The Great American Desert". In this desert arose the legendary American cowboy.
The prairie could not be farmed, but its rich grasses provided ample feed for buffalo and the peculiar kind of cattle known as the Texas longhorn. The ancestors of the longhorns came from Spain. Some had escaped from the Texas ranches and had grown wild and wily on the range. As they learned to survive the harsh winters and defend themselves from predators, the longhorns became dangerous, especially to a man on foot. Nevertheless, some people saw that fortunes could be made from these "cows". Land was cheap. grass was free, and there was a growing demand for beef in the East. The problem was how to get them to a market. The railroads that crossed the west after the Civil War were part of the answer. The other part was the cowboy, a man on a horse who could manage the unruly longhorns.
Cowboys and horses are almost inseparable, but the cowboy had no particular love for the animal. A horse was only a tool used in tending cattle and working the range. The rest of the cowboy's equipment was adopted for the same practical reason. His wide-brimmed hat kept the sun off his face, a neckerchief kept dust out of his nose and lungs, and a many-pocketed vest held his valuables. The cowboy’s boots were not made for walking, but for staying in a saddle for long hours and getting out of it quickly.
The cowboy's daily routine revolved around cattle and the ranch, but the spring and fall roundups were the main events of his year. In the spring cattle were gathered. They had spent the winter on the range, mingling with other herds, living off the grass, and giving birth to calves. Cowboys from neighboring ranches cooperated to drive all the cattle to a central location where each new calf was given the brand of its mother. The ranch owner kept count of the herd, for each addition meant an increase in his future profits.
In the fall another roundup picked the cattle that were ready for market. This roundup led to the famous cattle drives. The weeks or months spent on the trail were a period of hardship and trial for the cowboy. He had to prove himself in a contest against the weather, Indians, and several hundred stubborn cattle.
A day on the trail began early. When breakfast was over, the chuckwagon, a mobile kitchen, moved ahead to the noon resting place and the cook prepared lunch. The cattle were formed into a long line and driven on, the cowboys fighting dust or rain or swollen rivers to get the cattle a few miles closer to the railhead. After lunch the chuckwagon moved on again to the site selected for the night campground. Work did not end at sundown, for the cowboys had to set watch over the skittish cattle and keep them calm. Day after day the routine was repeated until the herd reached the railhead and was sold.
Pipe Spring National Monument is a memorial to those early cattle ranches and cowboys. Visitors here may see homes and bunk houses, work sheds, and corrals typical of 19th-century ranches. While the cattle raised here were used by the Mormon Church and did not have to be driven hundreds of miles to a railroad, other activities, skills, and equipment are similar to those of open-range cattle ranches throughout the West. At certain seasons, visitors today can see cattle being rounded up, herded into corrals, and calves branded.
A Tour of Pipe Spring
- A. Gardens and Trees The orchard and garden were planted in 1868
- B. Ponds The two ponds have irrigated the gardens since the 1880's
- C. Winsor Castle (Fort)
- D. Blacksmith Shop Used as quarters in 1870, the building now houses pioneer tools.
- E. Harness Room A collection of harnesses and farm equipment is displayed in the former barracks built in 1868.
- F. Corral In this juniper-log corral, a type used by early ranchers, cattle are still branded during spring roundup.
- G. Dugout Site Built in 1863 this was the first dwelling at Pipe Spring.
- H. West Cabin This bunkhouse was used by explorer John Wesley Powell's survey crew in 1871.
- I. Dominguez-Escalante A marker recognizes the achievement of the two padres.
- J. Trail There are many historic and natural interpretive markers along this #&189;-mile loop trail.
- K. Pig Pen
- L. Chicken Pen
- 1. Courtyard The large doors at each end of the courtyard allowed wagons to enter the fort.
- 2. Middle Room This room was probably used as a sitting room or bedroom. Today pictures of early pioneers are displayed on the walls.
- 3. Southeast Bedroom Furniture in this room is largely of native ponderosa pine. The clothing and trunk are typical of the late 19th century
- 4. Telegraph Room The telegraph operator lived and worked in this room. A picture of the first operator, Miss Luella Stewart, hangs over the original telegraph stand.
- 5. Northwest Bedroom The bed and the chairs in this room use rawhide strips, a common item on the ranch.
- 6. Meeting and Guest Room This room was used for meetings and Sunday services and as a lodging for overnight guests. The small trap door in the ceiling leads to a lookout tower. Rugs were made on the loom outside the door.
- 7. Kitchen This is the fort's main kitchen. Hearty meals were served on the large table set in Mormon fashion: the plates turned over and the chairs turned backwards for kneeling to pray before morning and evening meals. The stove was brought to the fort in 1895.
- 8. Parlor The settlers at Pipe Spring often relaxed in this room. Books, musical instruments, and singing provided the entertainment. Families gathered here to read the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Beyond the back wall is the source of water for Pipe Spring. It comes from the hillside and the fort was placed over the spring to protect it. The water was once piped across the courtyard to the spring room. It now runs underground.
- 9. Spring Room Some of the spring water flows into this room, but most has been diverted outside the fort. The spring yields about 30 gallons of water a minute at a constant 56
F. The cold water made the cream rise in the milk and helped cure the cheese.
- 10. Cheese Room Making cheese was one of the major activities at the fort in the 1870's. Milk was placed in a cheese vat and heated to about 89
F. Rennet, from the stomach of a calf, was added to make the milk curdle, and the curd heated to 102 F. It was then cut, salted, and kneaded to remove some of the whey. The curd was packed in a round, and pressed to remove more whey for a solid cheese. After pressing, the cheese was weighed on the stillyards. Workers at Pipe Spring turned out 60 to 80 pounds of cheese a day.
The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.
View the park's map to create your own personal maps and images right here.For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.
A geology photo album for this park can be found here.For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.
Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.
Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout
The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!
Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.
For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.
The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.
A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.
NPS Geology and Soils PartnersAssociation of American State Geologists
Geological Society of America
Natural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
U.S. Geological Survey
Currently, we do not have a listing for any park-specific geology education programs or activities.For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.