In 1870, Brigham Young, president of the Mormon Church, visited an oasis in the parched Arizona Strip. He quickly recognized Pipe Spring's potential value as a cattle ranch for the church and made plans to build a fort to protect the valuable water supply. Called Winsor Castle, the fort -- along with barracks and juniper-post corrals -- is preserved at Pipe Spring National Monument as a memorial to early cattle ranches and cowboys.

Pipe Spring National Monument
©National Park Service
Pipe Spring National Monument is a memorial to cowboys and early cattle ranches.

Church members helped pay their tithing by working on the fort. They quarried stone from the red sandstone cliffs to the west and hauled lumber from a nearby sawmill to build the fort. Winsor Castle consisted of two rectangular, two-story houses with connecting walls that formed a courtyard. The structure housed bedrooms, offices, a parlor, the kitchen, the area's first telegraph, and a room for making cheese. The rooms are furnished with original items from the pioneer days.

The ranch peaked in 1879, with 2,269 head of cattle and 162 horses worth more than $54,000. The Mormon Church sold the ranch in 1888. On the grounds, visitors can tour re-created gardens and orchards, the blacksmith shop, harness room, corral, and other historic buildings, including the cabin where explorer John Wesley Powell's survey crew stayed in 1871. A short trail loops through the monument, highlighting historic and natural features of Pipe Spring.

Pipe Spring National Monument Information

Address: 401 N. Pipe Spring Rd., Fredonia, AZ
Telephone: 928/643-7105
Hours of Operation:

  • Jun.- Aug. 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sept. - May 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission: $5

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To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.