Staking a Claim
PIPE SPRING, 1863
Whenever businessman James Whitmore rode out from St. George to see how his 11,000 sheep, 500 cattle, and 1,000 grapevines were faring, he often slept here in his dugout—a rough shelter hand-dug in the ground. Imagine a rock-walled bedroom six feet deep in the hillside directly before you. Whitmore had emigrated from Texas to Salt Lake City in 1857, moving south to St. George in 1861. He secured the title to 160 acres around this spring. With his herdsman Robert McIntyre, Whitmore staked out corrals, built a dugout, fenced off 10 acres, and started planting apples and grapes.
No photographs exist of Whitmore’s dugout. An archeological excavation in 1957 revealed that sandstone slabs lined the walls and covered the floor. The dugout was roofed with a frame of juniper poles topped with brush and clay.