Pipe Spring National Monument – Take A Trip Back in Time
By John Hiscock
For hundreds of years, ancestral pueblo-building and Southern Paiute people lived and farmed at Matungwa?va – a bountiful spring flowing from the red rock of the Vermilion Cliffs. In 1863, Mormon settler James Whitmore started ranching at this same spot, called Pipe Springs by the Mormons. Conflict, strife, and outright warfare between the Mormons, Utes and Navajos threatened remote settlements throughout the 1860s. The killing of Whitmore by a Navajo raiding party near Pipe Spring in 1866 prompted the Mormon militia to respond and resulted in the execution of seven Kaibab Paiute. In ensuing years, Pipe Spring served as a base of operations for the Mormon militia in the conflict with the Navajo. In 1870, Anson P. Winsor followed Mormon leader Brigham Young’s orders and began superintending construction of a substantial fortified structure to provide defense of the Mormon frontier against potential Navajo raids, as well as become a church tithing ranch. It took masons, carpenters and blacksmiths two years to build “Winsor Castle.” Rock for the walls of the structure was quarried from local sandstone, and pine timbers were freighted in from Mount Trumbull, many miles to the south. 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, Utah every two weeks for the builders of numerous public works projects, including a Mormon temple. Winsor Castle, as it was known, 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 beside Winsor Castle 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 to protect their husbands from arrest. The ranch eventually 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 subsistence 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. In 1922, intrigued by the interesting look of the old fort and the history of the area, the first director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather, proposed Pipe Spring be added to the new and growing system of national park areas. Mather worked closely with the Mormon Church and the ranch owners to acquire Pipe Spring and see it 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 the historic fort, 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 out-buildings, and the scenic half-mile Ridge Trail at their own pace. Trailside exhibits provide information about the natural and cultural history of the area. For more information, call 928-643-7105, or e-mail PISP_Interpretation@NPS.GOV or visit www.nps.gov/pisp.