On Dave’s return (after finding all the kids cuddled in our bed - it was chilly!), we headed back to the Visitor Center where the Ranger really praised the kids for all of their hard work completing the entire book. Once they were sworn in, we hooked the camper back up and sadly left Grand Canyon National Park, passing deer and some struggling cyclists on the way.
It was with much relief that our drive time was only about three hours today. On the way from one National Park to the next, we made a stop at Pipe Spring National Monument. We had pre-warned the kids that another JR program was incoming! It wasn’t too taxing – the blessing of a smaller NPS site is that it’s possible to see everything in a reasonably short time.
From the brochure: Water is a powerful force in human affairs. For millennia Pipe Spring has drawn a succession of peoples – either as an oasis on their journeys or as a water source for permanent settlements. It is an arid and seemingly uninhabitable region but hidden geological forces have brought water for a few places here, opening them to human settlement. The Strip is the first in a series of terraces that step up to the high plateau of central Utah some 200 miles to the north. There, water from rain and snowmelt percolates down to a hard shale layer and flows southward to the base of the Vermilion Cliffs, where it is forced to the surface at places such as Pipe Spring.
For 12,000 years the Strip was a travel corridor for nomadic big game hunters. Ancestral Puebloan peoples were the next to settle in the area, followed by related Southern Paiute tribes who live here still. Beginning in the 1700s, missionaries and explorers visited the area. In the mid-1800s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints came upon the Arizona Strip while seeking water and land to expand their new homeland in the West. Each of these cultures affected how the others adapted to this hard and demanding place in the high desert.
Due to over grazing by the settlers, the land sadly did not yield all it had previously given and the homesteads set up here were abandoned. There were two long-horns on the site, amazing to see these animals up close.
We spent some time in the Visitor Center and then outside looking at the machinery and tools used by the settlers as well as wandering in the basic cabins.
A Ranger conducted a tour of the main house, named Winsor Castle for the first family who settled here. Evidently there was much tension between the settlers and the Indians involving bloodshed on both sides. As such, when the house was built, it included small gun windows and a high look out tower. None of these were ever needed as the house did not come under attack. It ran successfully as a stopping point for food, water, and board as well as producing large quantities of dairy products to sell such as butter and cheese.
A telegraph operation was also set up here. After John Wesley Powell, on his journey to survey the Colorado River, informed them that their property was actually in Arizona, not Utah, they realized that theirs was the first telegraph operation in Arizona!
We love learning about these little slices of history. Hopefully this hands-on learning will serve the kids well in the future and help them retain some of what they hear. After admiring the still-harvested grape vines, they were sworn in for the second time that day as Junior Rangers.
We made it to Zion River Resort by late afternoon, having passed the outside towering rocks of Zion National Park, and the younger three patiently waited until we were set up to go in the pool. Given the winds, I can’t imagine it was terribly warm but they were not remotely perturbed – there was a pool, it was open, they should swim!