Virtual Tour - Cheese Room

An Oneida cheese vat, shipped from Elmira, New York, to Pipe Spring soon after the fort was completed in 1872, was used in the manufacturing of cheese. During the first seven years of the fort's occupation, the ranch manager's family would produce between 50 and 60 pounds of cheese each day, most of which would be taken to St. George, Utah, as provisions for Mormon laborers building the temple. The process of making the large wheels of cheese was fairly straight forward, but very time consuming.
Cheese Room
Cheese press
Between 80 and 100 gallons of milk would be poured into the vat. Once the milk was heated to about 92 degrees F, a thickening agent, called rennet, was added. When the mixture reached the consistency of a thick gelatin, it was cut with a knife (sometimes called a cheese harp) into small chunks called curds.

This mixture was then transferred to a cheese press (small photo, left), where the liquid, called whey, was pressed out.
The resulting wheel of cheese would weigh 50 to 60 pounds. Each day one wheel of cheese was produced. Pipe Spring cheese most likely resembled mild cheddar cheese.

To transport the cheese and butter to St. George, Utah, it was possibly placed in wooden barrels and surrounded by flour. Alternatively, the butter could have been packed into stoneware jars. Either method woul protect the products during the four day wagon trip, even in the high summer temperatures of the Arizona Strip.

Last updated: July 24, 2020

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Pipe Spring National Monument
HC 65 Box 5
406 Pipe Springs Road

Fredonia, AZ 86022


(928) 643-7105

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