This article originally appeared in Vol.60 No.1 of Pioneer Magazine
by Glenda heaton
Pipe Spring fort was completed by April 1872, though interior work continued for several years. The completed structure consisted of two sandstone block buildings that faced each other across a courtyard, each two stories tall. Heavy wooden gates, which opened outward, enclosed both ends of the courtyard. Wood shingles covered the fort’s roof. For defensive purposes, none of the building’s exterior wall were constructed with windows but instead were supplied with gun ports. Windows were later put in to provide more light.
The north building (or upper building) of the fort bordered a hillside that historically yielded the site’s primary source of water. The spring flowed southward, beneath the floor of the north building’s west room, then through a stone-lined trough across the courtyard and into the west room of the south building (the lower house). The main function of the cattle ranch at Pipe Spring was to produce cheese, butter, beef and hides for Mormon workers building the St. George Temple, which was under construction. Sheep were also kept at Pipe Spring during this period, providing a source of wool and lamb for the St. George workers. In addition to cooling the dairy room, the water that issued from the spring behind the fort was used for culinary purposes, crop irrigation and stock watering.
There were two bunkhouses, one on the east and one on the west, that were used to house hired hands and machinery.
The fort at Pipe Spring never came under attack from the local tribes. Peace negotiated between Hamblin and Powell and the Navajo while the fort was under construction eventually ended the raiding of the white settlements.
In 1871, a telegraph station was set up at Winsor Castle and became the first telegraph station in the territory of Arizona. Eliza Luella Stewart was the first telegraph operator. Later she married David King udall, becoming the matriarch of the extensive Udall family in Arizona. She was also the first matron of the Mesa Temple.
Once the St. George Temple was completed in 1877, young Mormon newlyweds, married by civil authorities in the Arizona settlements, traveled from the Little Colorado River settlements to St. George to have their vows solemnized in the temple. The route was traveled by so many newlyweds that it came to be known as “The honeymoon trail.” The fort at Pipe Spring became a popular stop for food and water. See Kenneth Mays, “The Honeymoon Trail,” Pioneer, Vol. 54, no. 4, 2007, 31–36.
The fort was rented out to several families through the years. A daughter of one of the renters remembered that during that time, in addition to “the most wonderful spring water,” the family had an orchard, garden, field, pastures, cows, a pet goat, chickens and a pond of water surrounded by tall trees. She also mentioned a downside of living there: she once had a face-to-face encounter with a rattlesnake while retrieving her shoes from under a stairway.
A. D. Findlay sold the Pipe Spring property to Jonathan Heaton and his sons on January 2, 1909, with Findlay carrying the mortgage. The Heaton’s copartnership was called the Pipe Springs Land & Live Stock Company. Later it was passed on to one of Jonathan’s sons, Charles Carroll Heaton. At this time, the fort was in terrible disrepair.
On May 31, 1923, Pipe Spring was proclaimed a National Monument by the United States government. Charles Heaton’s son, Leonard Heaton, moved to the fort with his family and started to restore the fort. He was paid a dollar a month for his service. In 1931 he was put on regular salary. His son, Lowell Heaton, would be the last baby born in the fort—once so full of life.