Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pipe Springs National Monument and Colorado City, AZ

Colorado City felt like a foreign country. Wide, empty streets, and big privacy fences around huge, unfinished homes. Not much to lure tourists except the strangeness. It didn't seem creepy until I read this.

You already know this, but Colorado City is a fundamentalist Mormon settlement where polygamy is still practiced. Women dress the same way they might have 150 years ago. The town is the setting for the non-fiction book Under the Banner of Heaven.

Fredonia, Arizona. I don't know what this meant.

Pipe Springs is home to Windsor Castle, a small fort that protected an early Mormon tithing ranch. Nothing so easy as tithing by personal check or automatic deposit, so the church needed places to store the livestock and produce that came in from the faithful.


Church members could use the telegraph for free. They could reach anyone. Standing in the same place today, you can reach no one, but you can do it on a cell phone.

Housing for ranch hands, and a guardhouse 


Sullen Whit is sullen. We took Tess' picture first. Is that what's bothering you, Bunky?


The rooms were cool inside 18" sandstone walls built into the hillside. There is a spring that was diverted into the dairy room, so there's running water. Annie figured out where we could install the composting toilet, and we immediately made plans to move in.


The visitor center is on Paiute Tribal land, and the fort is not.

We could hear some unusual laughter coming from the garden.


Patti is the master gardener for the monument. Here she's making arrangements to mail a 60 pound Hopi squash to these guys before the garden is plowed under. She maintains a Paiute side of the garden, and a pioneer side.

We met Patti again before lunch. She had just received a proposal of marriage from an eighty-year-old Hopi elder. He wasn't called an "elder" for nothing. She didn't reveal her answer, but did say she was now in hiding.

She's also a fiddler, and demonstrated her skills as part of her interpretive duties.

I named this barrel Cooper and amused myself.

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Maria Meiners said...

Your silliness is just what I needed to read today :)

The Good Luck Duck said...

I'm so glad it's good for something, Maria!

The Odd Essay said...

Your photos are outstanding! Even Sullen Whit looks good. We lived near a Fundamentalist "community" in Utah for a while... interesting...

Brenda A. said...

Okay so I'll add Colorado City to the list of "bad vibe towns" to be avoided. I'm pretty sure I would find myself in big trouble for saying what's on my mind.

Fundamentalist- a nice word for bat shit crazy. :)

Donna K said...

That Warren Jeffs is a piece of work alright! Enjoyed your pics and the fiddle video.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Thanks, Donna! I haven't read that book yet, and Nicole just told me about Escape, written by a woman who literally escapes the community with her eight children.

Yeah, Brenda, I hear ya. Luckily, there's nothing for you to stop for, at least in Colorado City, so you'd be unlikely to have to say anything to anyone. But, according to the Wiki, outsiders are clearly unwelcome to settle.

Thank you, Sharon! Ole Whit couldn't help himself, sullen or no. Do you mind saying where you were?

Tammy said...

You don't know what that is- in the second photo....perhaps a dry run for Halloween!

Tesaje said...

I agree with Brenda lol. Nice Longhorns.

Gaelyn said...

Colorado City is creepier than the Shinning. Sets my hair on end. And although I found Pipe Springs interesting I was bothered by those Mormons building on top of this spring making it unavailable to others.
Hope you got to take some fresh vegies with you.

Carolyn said...

That barrel has a nifty top! Looks more like an Earnest to me ... But then what do I know about barrels ... I'm with Gaelyn ... too weird

ooo The Shining ... seriously ... aw man? Trying to get to sleep here ... It's 3:44am in my home time and 1:44 am here time ...

Enjoyed your Q&A post ... Left a comment there

ain't for city gals said...

Under the Banner of Heaven was a good book. I have driven through that town a few times...I just kept on going. Utah is a beautiful state but I always find they are not too friendly to outsiders...maybe it is me..Ha!

Happy Trails said...

The reason all the buildings/homes in Colorado City was full of "unfinished" homes is so they don't have to pay taxes on them while "under construction"! Definitely the weirdest place Chuck and I have ever driven through!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Happy, I heard that, too. Clever trick, but wouldn't "powers" get wise and change the tax code or something? Unless the powers are insiders.

Sheryl, we found Kanab to be quite friendly, but Kanab is MADE of outsiders. Maybe you should quit trying to order beer at Colorado City Diner.

Carolyn, there is an importance to being Earnest. This guy was a garbage can disguised as Cooper, which is cute. I'll check out Theresa's post again.

Gaelyn, VERY creepy. And apparently creepier if you live there and try to leave the cult. Or never belonged in the first place. Yeah, there's a lot to be bothered about at P.S., too. The livestock ate and overran Paiute food sources, so even though the Paiute were (sort of) glad to have allies against the Navajo, it didn't turn out so well for them anyway.

Me too, Mary.

Tammy, that's a better theory than I have.

Somer said...

I'm a Mormon, and I've been to Colorado City several times. Yes, even Mormons think the fundamentalists in these types of communities are "out there". However, my parents live near Kanab and have become friends with many people in Colorado City. They are honest, hard working and kind. Any perception of coldness comes from the fact that so many come to gawk at them and photograph them. I'd get tired of it too. Last time I was travelling through the area, I visited the dairy store because my mom buys their yogurt start. I'm vegan and the ladies in the store talked to me about how to make soy yogurt with the start. They even asked if I would call them or drop them a line to let them know how it went. Learning more about them and seeing how kind they are has been was a lesson to me about my personal tolerance and being prejudiced.

Brenda A. said...

The same thing could be said about the members of most cults. It's not the people born into them or sucked in who are deserving of scorn. It's the leaders. The one's controlling the others who should most certainly not be tolerated. It's a gross abuse of power. There are way too many crimes that have been committed by the leaders to just let them off the hook.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Somer, I appreciate your call for tolerance. Like Brenda, I feel no tolerance at all for the leaders. A cult escapee myself, I feel disgust and contempt for those who hold the power and wield it over others, most especially over the women.

ain't for city gals said...

Ha!..This is a subject that interests me...if we ever meet we shall talk..

The Good Luck Duck said...

Sheryl, if you mean me, I say okay!

Somer said...

I hear you. And on those fronts you are absolutely right.

Cheryl said...

I think I broke the speed limit when I drove past Colorado City. I've read a couple of books now on the happenings and that was enough to "press on."

I actually picked up "Under the Banner of Heaven" and was reading some excerpts. Not the kind of reading to evoke peaceful slumber.

Here's a recent disturbing report:

The Good Luck Duck said...

That is seriously messed up. I'm disgusted.

Best Friends frequently does mass rescues in Colorado City.