Friday, February 3, 2017

Pipe Springs

 When traveling to the North Rim of Grand Canyon from the western states there is a good chance that you'll travel along Highway 389 through Arizona. It's a lonely road with sparse communities sprinkled between panoramic views of nature's carefully crafted plateaus. And while it's easy to speed through the area to get to the Grand Canyon I would recommend slowing down and taking an hour out of your time to visit Pipe Springs National Monument. Especially since if you blink you'll miss the turn despite it being marked with a tell tale brown sign that we all know and love. 
  So what is Pipe Springs? Well originally it was just a natural spring that brought water to plants, animals and local native people of the area. Of course if that were all it was we wouldn't be talking about it would we? I think not. 
  Life was hard enough on the different tribes that lived throughout the area and they all used the spring's waters. One day Mormon settlers came across the spring and instantly realized how important the spring was in the harsh desert climate. Not long after their discovery a cattle ranch was established. The Kaibab Paiutes got along with the Mormons and the ranchers but the Utes and Navajo were not so welcoming and the Navajo decided to take action. In the winter of 1866 the cattle found it's way into the possession of the Navajo (by way of theft) which led to the rancher, Dr. James Whitmore and his associate Robert McIntyre to track the stolen cattle. The two men found the cattle and were quickly rendered dead by the Navajo. I guess they should have taken more men. 
  The ranch was a project of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day and after Whitmore and McIntyre were killed the project was abandoned for four years. During this time they worked on strengthening relationships with the tribes and a peace treaty was eventually signed. With a treaty in hand church leader Brigham Young ordered a fort to be built directly over the spring with high walls and plenty of guns for protection, you know, just in case people realized a treaty is just a piece of paper with scribbles on it. Don't worry though, this fort didn't lead to violence. In fact quite the opposite. The Paiute and Mormon relationship flourished and attacks from other tribes subsided. The LDS church would eventually lose this property but that's a story for a different day. 
 Today Pipe Springs is located on what is now the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation. There is a campground and picnic area for visitors as well as plenty of history of the site and the people that did and continue to live here. You can take a self guided tour of the facility like we did or you can take advantage of a ranger led tour which are always nice because you can ask questions and hear the more intimate stories of the property.
There seems to be a nice charm to these smaller monuments and I feel that it's just as important to visit them as it is the larger parks. They are our parks people let's keep them alive and help to keep their history alive. If you want more information on Pipe Springs National Monument just click here. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to sharing more with you next week.


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