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Pipe Spring's Legends Will Keep Flowing
Will Bagley
Published: 03/24/2002 Edition: Final Section: Utah  Page: B1

Corrections: Last week's column credited Jacob Hamblin with naming Pipe Spring, but it was his brother, William "Gunlock Bill" Hamblin, who blasted Dudley Leavitt's pipe.

Pipe Spring, located inside the Kaibab Indian Reservation 20 miles southwest of Kanab, is an island of grass in the barren Arizona strip. Now, the spring has dried up.  

People have relied on its cool water for millenniums, as prehistoric petroglyphs and a large unexcavated pueblo attest. The Kaibab Paiute call these ancient people the iinung wung, and explorer John Wesley Powell said they called the spring Yellow Rock Water, the color of the surrounding cliffs. 

A Mormon exploration party under Jacob Hamblin stumbled on the spring on Oct. 30, 1858. According to legend, the spring got its name when his brother, William "Gunlock Bill" Hamblin, bet he could shoot a bandanna from a distance of 50 yards. The kerchief kept fluttering off in the breeze, so he asked Dudley Leavitt (great-grandfather of Gov. Mike Leavitt) to donate his pipe as a target.

Hamblin blasted the pipe off the rock. Hence, Pipe Spring. 

James Montgomery Whitmore, a Mormon from Texas, got a land certificate for the spring from Washington County's Judge John D. Lee and homesteaded it in 1863. With his partner Robert McIntyre, Whitmore founded a ranch, built a small dugout, ran fences and planted 1,000 grape vines and a fruit orchard.   

Navajo raiders drove the Nauvoo Legion and the Mormon settlers out of Kanab in December 1865. The next month, Indians ran off Whitmore's sheep. Whitmore and McIntyre set out in pursuit and disappeared. Utah militiamen searching for them captured two Paiutes, who led them to the men's bodies.  

In revenge, the militia killed about 12 Paiutes who had nothing to do with the murders.  

The militia used the spring as a supply depot until 1870, when Brigham Young decided it would be a good spot for one of the church's tithing herds and hired Anson P. Winsor to run the ranch. The Mormon prophet allegedly stepped off the walls of the fort surrounding the spring, and John Wesley Powell dubbed it Winsor Castle.   

"Ranch forts," compact and stout stone bastions designed to protect settlers from Indians, marked the beginning of many towns in Mormon country, but only two survive: Winsor Castle and Asa Hinckley's Cove Fort in Millard County.  

Winsor Castle, with its high sandstone walls built into a hillside, is the most intriguing.

Anson Winsor joined the Mormons in 1842 and served as one of Joseph Smith's bodyguards. He crossed the plains in 1852, settled in Provo, married a Danish immigrant as his second wife and worked as a wagon master.   

In 1857, he wrote a letter from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., describing the Utah Expedition, which legendary plainsman Porter Rockwell carried west to alert Young that the federal army was on its way to the territory.  

Winsor was just the kind of man Young needed to run the Winsor Castle Stock Growing Company. As one official in St. George noted, "This Pipe Spring and Kanab country is right between us and the Navajos, and it is the best country for stock raising that I ever saw."  

Journalist J. H. Beadle claimed that Winsor showed him cattle descended from stock seized at the Mountain Meadows massacre.  

The Deseret Telegraph Company established the first telegraph station in Arizona at the castle. Ella Stewart sent the first message on December 15, 1871.  

President Harding established Pipe Spring National Monument in 1923, and the beautifully restored fort lets visitors step back into the 1870s. And park officials will pipe in well water to keep Pipe Spring flowing.


Historian Will Bagley relied on Kathleen L. McKoy's "Cultures at a Crossroads," an administrative history of Pipe Spring National Monument, for this column.

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