Pipe Spring National Monument – Take A Trip Back in Time
By John Hiscock
In 1870, Anson P. Winsor followed Mormon leader Brigham Young’s orders and began construction of a substantial fortified structure at Pipe Spring, to provide defense of the Mormon frontier against potential Navajo raids, as well as become a church tithing ranch. It took workers two years to build “Winsor Castle.” Rock for the walls was quarried from local sandstone, and pine timbers were hauled in from Mount Trumbull. The tall building had large wooden gates on either side, wide enough to permit a wagon to enter. The stout walls enclosed two houses separated by a spacious courtyard, with parlor, kitchen, meeting and guest room, and bedrooms. To protect the precious water source, a room was built over the main spring, where the 56-degree water cooled milk, cream, butter and cheese. Those dairy products were taken to St. George every two weeks for the builders of numerous public works projects, including a Mormon temple. Winsor Castle was a welcome stop for travelers crossing the empty, windswept Arizona Strip, between the Grand Canyon and the Utah border. Famed geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell watched the groundbreaking for the fort, and his survey team bunked in the small west cabin in 1872. While various people managed Winsor Castle and the ranch, the Mormon Church maintained ownership through the 1880s. During Federal raids on polygamous families in the 1880s and 1890s, wives and children hid out at Pipe Spring. The ranch passed into private hands in 1896. Despite the benefit of the fort to Mormon settlers and travelers, their arrival proved detrimental to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians. The Kaibab were excluded from the water source that had been keenly important to their existence. The 20th Century brought extreme challenges with the loss of their traditional lifestyle, a drastic decline in population, government assimilation programs such as Indian boarding schools and termination of reservations. Yet the modern Kaibab Paiute have become successful in government, business, and work to preserve their cultural traditions. Intrigued by the old fort and its history, National Park Service Director Stephen Mather proposed Pipe Spring be a national park area. It was proclaimed a National Monument on May 31, 1923. Today visitors are invited to learn about the history and culture of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians and Mormon pioneers in a variety of ways. There is an onsite visitor center and museum shared by the National Park Service and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, which offers an extensive array of exhibits on the Kaibab Paiute, as well as pioneer culture and history. A theater features a film on the settlement of the Pipe Spring area from the points of view of descendents of the early occupants – Kaibab Paiute and Mormon pioneers. In addition, Pipe Spring park rangers provide tours of Winsor Castle every half hour throughout the year. During the summer, rangers also offer walks, talks and “living history” demonstrations, bringing historic pioneer and American Indian traditions to life. Visitors are welcome to tour the orchard and garden, historic outbuildings, and the scenic half-mile Ridge Trail at their own pace. Trailside exhibits provide information about the natural and cultural history of the area.