It’s a long way from Las Vegas to Kanab. By the time we got to Colorado City, a controversial town founded by breakaway Mormons who desired polygamy, Ruth & I both needed our own break. However, we did not stop. By the time we got to Kaibab, we were desperate for relief. I saw a sign noting the approach of Pipe Spring, a National Monument we knew nothing about. “If it’s not too far off the highway, let’s stop and at least use the restrooms,” I proposed. Not only was it close to the road, it was a 5 Compass surprise, an attraction not to be missed.
Pipe Spring borders the Kaibab Reservation. The stories of the spring and the Kaibab Paiutes both proved fascinating. We were very lucky to get a personal tour with Autumn, a very well-educated and dedicated Paiute Shoshone who went to school, among other places, in Colorado City. The only other person on the tour was a gentleman who was in the process of moving to St. George, Utah, the fastest growing city in the United States. He appeared to not like what Autumn had to say near the end of her presentation.
This was once exclusively Paiute land. The descendants of pueblo builders, they were here because of available grass and water. Spaniards brought the slave trade and many Paiute women and children disappeared. The tribe mostly moved out. Jacob Hamblin, a Mormon Missionary, moved in and started a ranch. He promised the Paiutes who remained that he would protect them, if they converted. More Mormons moved in because they needed the grass that was “as high as a horse’s belly” for farming and ranching. Brigham Young named Anson Winsor ranch manager, more Mormons came, and a building through which the spring flowed was built. This gave the Mormons control of the water. Thirsty cotton was grown. This facility produced lots of dairy products and Dixie Wine and became a haven and hideout for wives fleeing polygamy. Autumn called it “an Adamless Eden.” Kaibab Paiutes dwindled to 76.
One of the more interesting Mormon settlers was a woman named Eliza Luella Stewart, master of Morse Code. She operated the 1st telegraph office in the Arizona Territory at Pipe Spring. Because Winsor Castle, which became its common name, had been built into a hillside and water ran through it, its downstairs parlor was cool. Its sofa became popular with traveling Mormon honeymooners.
I have really simplified a very complex and compelling story. Autumn ended her presentation with the news that the spring that brought people to the Pipe Spring area for millennia will dry up due to human development in the next 10 years. The water table is dropping drastically. The Kaibab Paiute population is up to around 250.
Pipe Spring National Monument is very old. The 1st director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, proposed that it be added to the National Park System, and it was…in 1923. It was funded and built by both the National Park Service and the Kaibab Paiutes. Rangers and volunteers lead tours every half hour all day. I hope you get Autumn as your guide.