Friday, November 16, 2012

Encounter on the High Desert


About an hour and 15 minutes drive from where I live, is an historic cattle ranch and fort established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This 'tithing' ranch was built in 1870 and was a 5 day trip by cart and horse, to St. George.  People went and delivered their tithed cattle from the surrounding 4 counties.  Most cows were milked and butter and cheese were made by the inhabitants or superintendents (called by Brigham Young) who served and remained there during their 5 year 'calling'.  The dairy products were then shipped bi-weekly, mostly to St. George, to feed and sustain those who were building the St. George Temple at the time and other families in need.

The tricky part about this fort is that it was built on land that was and still is, inhabited by the Kaibab Paiutes.  The Paiutes were already diminished in numbers compared to their encroaching neighbors, the Navajo when the Mormon settlers came to this seemingly forsaken area. While the Paiutes and Mormons seemed to get along for the most part, except for a couple of unfortunate instances, this tribe of Native Americans wasn't thrilled with the idea that the white man would come and literally build their dwellings over the tops of their most precious water sources, the natural springs in that area.  Neither of them got along well with the Navajo, thus the need for a fort to protect them from possible attacks.  So, they built the fort...and were never attacked.

This area comprised of the Winsor Castle (the fort), a couple of cabins, gardens, an orchard and corrals is now a 3 acre parcel known as Pipe Spring National Monument.  It is completely surrounded by the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation. There is a vast history of culture at this park.

Last week my Mom and I learned of a special guided hike that takes place twice a year.  We would be allowed to enter into the reservation, with permission of the agency, to explore petroglyphs.  Yesterday, we spent a cool, windy afternoon enjoying all that this little hidden treasure had to offer.


Winsor Castle, the fort built by Anson P. Winsor, the first superintendent of the ranch.


Petroglyphs found on the reservation.  Although this area of carvings was not extensive, they were very beautiful and unique.  The location of was tucked back into a bowl of sandstone walls, the Paiutes call a 'Sacred Cultural Site'.  The image of the right is thought to have a bird on it's arm.  The holes in the center of the people, could not be determined whether they were part of the petroglyphs or bullet holes.  We weren't able to get close enough to see them.  Unfortunately, it is common for idiots to shoot at petroglyphs.  Although, these didn't look like bullet holes to me.  I would like to see these images at the solstices to see if there is some alignment of light through them.  I'm betting there is.


The etchings and carvings were very faded in most places.  You had to train your eye to stare at the panels to find them.  The above image is possibly a 'warrior', with feathers adorning his feet and legs. Approx. 1 1/2 feet tall.


I had never seen a petroglyph of a crane until now.  This almost 2 foot tall image threw us off a bit as there are no marshes or large water sources in the area.  I wondered if it might be a clan sign or migratory sign of some kind.


This picture shows one of the panels and how hard it was to see the petroglyphs due to their erosion and the harsh light in the middle of the day.  That area pointed to with arrows was completely covered in images.  


Back in the park, near the fort is an orchard and vineyard with grape vines that date back to the late 1800's.  The vines were entirely covered and draped with beautiful, sweet green, purple and red grapes.  They are just starting to turn to raisins, right on the vine, which makes them all the more sweet.  Mom and I ate them and should have eaten more.  They are literally hanging there for anyone who wants, to eat them.  

There are so many things to learn at Pipe Spring.  Here is a link to a short video about this monument.  Next time I go, I plan on taking a huge basket with me to harvest grapes and other heirloom tasty treats from the garden.  

I hope to have this 'encounter' again.  


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