LONGHORNS AT PIPE SPRING: HISTORY COMES ALIVE
starting out to be a fine day for Whitmore and Tess. They’ve
had their breakfast of alfalfa hay and a big drink of cold spring
water. They’ve playfully locked horns, butted heads, and pushed
each other around the corral for a few minutes. A visitor has brought
them some juicy oranges to munch. Now they’re lying side by
side in the sun, calmly observing the other visitors lined up at
the fence, snapping photographs of the comely half-siblings, who
came to Pipe Spring National Monument in 2005, when they were only
a few months old.
Whit and Tess
don’t know that they represent a noble breed with centuries
of history that spans two continents, or that Whit’s name
is a link to Pipe Spring’s own history. They just know that
life is good for Pipe Spring’s longhorns.
James Whitmore first brought Texas Longhorns to the 160 acres he
claimed around Pipe Spring in 1863. Whitmore had moved to St. George,
Utah at the request of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day
Saints, but the dry, rocky land and blistering summer heat of St.
George discouraged him from keeping cattle there. Pipe Spring in
the 1860’s had abundant water, good grass, and a milder climate
– this was where he chose to locate his herd. Whitmore knew
the Longhorn breed from his days of running cattle in Texas. Able
to graze on anything available, tough as nails, and superior breeders,
Texas Longhorns were his choice for the remote and rugged Arizona
The longhorns’ fortune on the Strip was better than Whitmore’s,
who was killed by Indians, most likely Navajos, in 1866 while trying
to recover stolen livestock. When the LDS Church purchased Pipe
Spring from Whitmore’s widow and made plans to establish a
tithing ranch there, Texas Longhorns were part of the stock.
The tithing ranch at Pipe Spring included a variety of cattle breeds,
such as longhorns, durhams, and devons. Saints from Filmore to Kanab
who gave their ten percent to the Church in the form of livestock
rather than money or other goods turned the cattle over to the Pipe
Spring ranch manager. The Church then raised and distributed the
cattle to other communities in the territory as needed. Cattle from
Pipe Spring, as well as butter and cheese made from their milk,
were important sources of food for workers building the St. George
Temple during the six years of its construction.
Top: Whitmore and Tess.
Majestic and Brigadoon.