For thousands of years humans have inhabited the area due to the reliable water source.
- About 300 BCE Ancestral Puebloan peoples came Pipe Springs followed by the Southern Paiute tribes who continue to live here today.
- Spanish missionaries and explorers traveled through the area beginning in the 1500s, bringing disease and conflict to the Native Americans.
- Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormans) settled in Pipe Springs in the mid-1800s bringing cattle to graze on the abundant grasses of the Arizona Strip.
The monument is managed jointly by the Kaibab Paiute Indians and the National Park Service. The monument is 40 acres and is surrounded by the Kaibab Paiute Reservation (another 188 acres) established in 1907. Our first stop was the Visitor Center where there is a very nice, small museum and gift shop.
There is a 25-minute video in the small theatre in the museum and exhibits on both the Kaibab Paiutes and the Morman settlers who inhabited Pipe Springs. About half of the museum has artifacts and displays about the Kaibab Paiutes.
And the other half has displays about others who traveled through or settled here (Mormans).
Here are illustrations of the dramatic decline in population of the Kaibab Paiutes due to diseases introduced by the Europeans and conflict with other Native American tribes. The Navajo and Utes participated in the Spanish slave trade stealing children and women from the Paiutes. By 1890 the Kaibab Paiute population had declined from 5,500 to 1,200. Today, approximately 350 Kaibab Paiutes reside on the reservation here.
Although it was a rainy day, we walked to "Winsor Castle," a Morman outpost built in 1871-1872. Along the way are several displays. This one is of the shelters built by the Paiutes in the 1800s as they traveled to different areas season by season.
Park Rangers provide 30-minute guided tours of Winsor Castle providing an interesting narrative of the history, purpose, and contents of the structure. It was initially built for protection from Navajo raids and to secure access to the water source (the house was built over the spring) but was also a multi-purpose headquarters for the Southern Utah Tithing Office and a way station between Utah and Arizona for Mormon pioneers, federal surveyors, and other travelers.
Built of stone, the building has two sandstone-block buildings facing each other with a courtyard in between. Large wooden gates enclosed the courtyard and a small lookout tower was built above the living quarters of the family that ran the ranch for the Morman church.
The lookout tower can be seen in this photo of Winsor Castle.
The tour started outside with some of the artifacts used by the women during the late 1800s. The house had walls 2-feet thick keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The rear wall is built into the earth which also helped insulate the living quarters.
Below are photos of the parlor and the kitchen. The family that ran the ranch fed not only themselves but the ranch hands and travelers that would stay at the house.
Upstairs were two bedrooms; one for the husband and wife and the other for the children. One of the ranch managers had a family of 12 children who stayed here. The small windows near the top of the walls were gun slots to be used to protect the ranch from Navajo raids.
The other side of the castle was used as a business office for the ranch, accommodations for travelers (2nd floor), the diary production center, and the cold storage area where the stream runs under the structure (1st floor, currently under repair).
To connect the remote Winsor Castle to other Morman settlements and Salt Lake City, the church established a telegraph station on the Deseret Telegraph Line here. It was the first telegraph office in the Arizona territory (1870).
Two ponds were built by the Mormans to capture the water flowing from the spring underneath Winsor Castle. This provided easy-access for the ranching operation and watering the gardens.
The Winsor ranch was very prosperous in the 1870s providing deliveries of butter, cheese, and cattle to St. George, UT, twice a month, to feed the workers building a new Morman temple there. Pipe Springs also became a hideout for polygamous wives when Federal laws were passed in the late 1800s making the practice a felony. In 1895, the church sold the ranch because the surrounding lands could no longer support a large cattle herd (due to overgrazing) and there was concern that the Federal government would confiscate the property due to the practice of polygamy. After being sold, it continued to serve as a way station for travelers.
We spent some time exploring the other structures at Pipe Springs. Below is one of two cabins still in existence here.
There are several corrals for horses, mules, and cattle.
A stone bunkhouse is located a short distance from Winsor Castle.
There are several outdoor exhibits of wagons of the late 1800s.
Pipe Springs was added to the National Park System in 1923 by President Warren Harding, one of the nation's earliest National Monuments, but is not well known. We really enjoyed learning about this time in our nation's history in this part of the country.
Admission to Pipe Springs National Monument is $7/adult. Our senior pass got us in for free. For additional information about the monument, see their web site.