Road Trip – Grand Canyon to St. George Utah (March 28-April 1, 2019)

After visiting Fort Verde I made my way to the Grand Canyon – Desert View to meet up with my friend Kathy. Kathy was still at work so I said hello to a few old co-workers who are still there and took some reminiscing photos.

I stayed overnight with Kathy and had a lot of fun catching up with her. The next morning we were up early and heading out on a three-day road trip. We headed out the west end entrance of the Grand Canyon towards the Vermillion Cliffs, past the North Rim towards St. George Utah.

As we headed toward St. George Utah on highway 89A we came across Pipe Springs National Monument out in the middle of nowhere so, of course, we had to stop and check it out.

The Kaibab Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum sits at the entrance of the monument. A collaboration between the National Parks Service and the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, the museum houses artifacts of both Native Americans and pioneers. There are educational displays and a short 10-minute video. During the summer months, folks in period costume demonstrate various activities to show what life was like in the late 1800s for both ranchers and Paiute. Guests may take a self-guided tour of the grounds, or accompany a park ranger for an educational talk. Tours of the fort are available at half-hour intervals throughout the day during both summer and winter months. Visitors will see artifacts and furnishings from the 1800s and learn more about the history of the fort. This time of year (March) there were not very many tourists and we pretty much had the place to ourselves and we had a great tour from our tour guide.

Pipe Springs National Monument is a historic pioneer fort located 20 minutes west of Kanab, Utah. The fort was created in the 1870s for security from the Native Americans but rarely was used for its original purpose.

Pipe Spring was named in 1858 by Latter-day Saint missionary, Jacob Hamblin on an expedition to the Hopi mesas.  Jacob saw the spring’s great potential as an oasis in the middle of the desert and took his knowledge of the area back home with him. Mormon pioneers living in St. George, Utah, brought cattle to the spring sometime during the 1860s. They established a large cattle ranch and began interacting with the local Kaibab Paiute Tribe. Although the relationship between the ranchers and the Paiute was friendly, there were some problems with other tribes in the area. During the winter of 1866, members of a local Navajo tribe stole the cattle at the ranch.  The rancher, and his herder, began tracking the cattle and were attacked and killed. Following the attacks, the ranch was abandoned for four years until a peace treaty was signed in 1870. Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, had a fort built for protection.

Although it was equipped with guns and high walls, the fort was never needed for safety, as both the Paiutes and Mormons were able to live peacefully. The fort was built right on top of the spring. The LDS Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort. With this outpost being so isolated it served as a way station for people traveling across this part of Arizona which separated them from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. It also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. There were many changes for the Paiute tribe when the Mormons settled and built the fort.  The biggest impact was the water source, now located inside the fort. Although this created some dependency, the relationship had mutual benefits. The Mormons benefited from the knowledge and friendship of the Paiute, and the Paiute gained some security as the tribe had been victim to slave raids from other tribes. With the presence of the fort, these attacks ceased and everyone was safe and secure. The Kaibab Paiute Tribe continues to live at Pipe Spring. In 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was founded. The property surrounds the monument, and the Paiute operate a campground and picnic area nearby.


Our next stop was St. George Utah. We stopped to take a tour of the Latter Day Saint winter home of Brigham Young. From 1870 to 1877, President Brigham Young lived in St. George, Utah, during the winter months. Beginning in 1872, he and members of his family lived in the place that is now called the Brigham Young Winter Home. From this home, he directed the affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The historic home is open to the public year-round. The home and adjacent office have been restored and furnished to reflect their 1870s appearance. Tours tell about Brigham Young’s family life in St. George and about his role in directing the settlement of southern Utah, including the construction of the St. George Utah Temple.

An interesting story about the green and red trim on the Brigham Young home: In the early 1870s the builders of the St. George LDS temple ordered white paint with which to paint the temple. When the paint arrived, half the wagon delivery was white and half green. Brigham Young and the settlers did not alter their concept and painted the temple white. The green paint did not go to waste and many fences, houses, and mercantile establishments were painted green. Some of that green paint was used on Brigham Youngs Winter Home. During restoration work, layers of paint were scraped away and revealed the original colors……the eaves, porches, banisters, and pillars painted a jade green with accented strips of cranberry red.

Next, we stopped to take a tour of the St. George Tabernacle. In 1862 Brigham Young suggested a meetinghouse be built, one large enough to comfortably seat at least 2,000 people that would not only be useful but also an ornament to the city. The ground-breaking and dedication of the site took place on June 1, 1863, which was also the 62nd birthday of Brigham Young. Over the next few years, the work to build the meeting house progressed slowly…..there was an outbreak of malaria, the rivers were unpredictable and dams and ditches needed frequent repairs and rebuilding. The Utah settlers were also busy with helping to transport other settlers from Missouri to Utah, and all settlers were also building homes, setting up mills and shops. In February of 1866 George A. Smith, the apostle-frontiersman after whom St. George was named visited the area and the limestone foundation that was six feet thick had only reached six feet high. Nine months later a stepped-up program of construction was put into place and within a little, over a year the basement had been completed and the main floor timbers were about to be laid. On March 20, 1869, the first public gathering met in the basement. Worked continued on the main structure for the next two and one-half years. On December 29, 1871, the last stone to the tabernacle was laid and a community celebration was held.

After the walls were up and the roof was on, meetings were held in the upper part, but finishing work remained. The community clock and bell were installed in the tower in 1872. The interior was finished in 1875, a beautiful silver sacra­ment set and organ were provided in 1877. Brass chandeliers were added in 1883. The Tabernacle has stood for close to 150 years until its recent remodeling. After almost two years of remodeling the St. George Tabernacle reopened its doors on July 23, 2018.

Our last stop was to view the St. George Temple. Brigham Young observing the effectiveness and beauty of the work that had gone into the St. George Tabernacle, the time had come for the Saints to build a Temple in St. George. The ground was broken on November 9, 1871, and excavation for the basement and foundation began immediately.

The cornerstone was laid on April 1, 1874, and completed January 1, 1877, it was the church’s third temple to be completed, but the first in Utah.

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