Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pipe Spring monument worth a detour in northern Arizona

Mormon fort at Pipe Spring
Sometimes the most interesting sites pop up when you least expect it, like when you’re driving down the highway to another destination. That’s how we discovered Pipe Spring National Monument.

We were driving along Utah Highway 59 across northern Arizona when we saw a sign for it. We decided if it was less than 10 miles off the highway, we’d visit it. As it turned out, the monument, which is operated jointly by the National Park Service and Paiute Indian Tribe, is less than a half mile down the side road.

It was well worth the stop. There’s a small visitor center with interpretive exhibits and a 23-minute video explaining the significance of Pipe Spring. Outside, there are brush huts used by the Paiutes, a brick fort built by Brigham Young and other outbuildings, including corrals for animals.

Indian huts at Pipe Spring
Pipe Spring was an excellent source of water for the first users, the Kaibab Paiute Indians, who were followed by explorers, missionaries and other travelers who passed through this high-desert area of Arizona.

In the second half of the 1800s, Pipe Spring was part of Brigham Young’s plan to settle Utah, with residents pledging 10 percent of their cattle operation to the Mormon church. The cattle operation was not that successful, but the area became a haven for church polygamists.

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