Pipe Spring National Monument is Magic
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 workmen 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 a 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, Utah, 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 wind-swept 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 West Cabin beside Winsor Castle in 1872. While various people managed 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 to protect their husbands from arrest. 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, who were excluded from the water source that had been 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 the 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 a visitor center and museum 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. Pipe Spring park rangers provide tours of Winsor Castle every half hour. During the summer, rangers also offer walks, talks and “living history” demonstrations, bringing historic pioneer and American Indian traditions to life.