HISTORY OF PINE VALLEY                                 

 

Nestled at the foot of a semi-circular arc of the Pine Valley Mountains in southwestern Utah is the small town of Pine Valley at an elevation of 6700 feet.

How many years this serene valley remained unobserved by man is not accurately known, but evidence exists in the form of Indian writing on the walls of the gulch to the west of Pine Valley where the Santa Clara Creek continues its way south, that Indians were there even before the white man.

One of the camping places on the Old Spanish trail, Kane Springs, is not far to the west of Pine Valley, which would lead one to believe fur trappers saw Pine Valley.

In 1846, Jedediah Smith and other explorers came to southern Utah trapping beaver. It would seem they might follow the Santa Clara Creek in search of those animals. Milton R. Hunter says every area that might house beaver was explored by trappers. In 1844 Fremont ascended the Santa Clara. There is, however, no apparent record of white men going into Pine Valley until the Mormons came.

Brigham Young sent exploring parties to find places for saints moving west to settle. When Parley P. Pratt returned from one of these trips he reported there were acceptable valleys around Cedar City and Parowan and told of snow capped mountains near there. John D. Lee settled in Harmony in 1852. Soon, missionaries were sent to the Indians on the Rio Virgin.

The story goes that Gunlock Bill Hamblin, brother of Jacob Hamblin, and Isaac Riddle were in charge of mission cattle near Santa Clara, and as they moved the cattle north for summer grazing, Isaac tracked a straying cow over the hills and down into the lush green meadows of Pine Valley.

It was not very long until the worth of the valley for its timber was determined, as the Deseret News March 5, 1856 says: "Jehu Blackburn and Co. have erected a splendid sawmill  in Pine Volley about 25 miles southwest of Cedar City, and near an extensive tract of pine timber of superior quality, equal to that of Parowan.

When the Civil war began, Brigham Young could see the worth of cotton and in conference read out the names of 309 families to go to St. George, to the Dixie Mission, where, with a climate similar to the southern United States, it was believed cotton could be grown. This belief was correct. However, heat, living conditions, and malaria caused many of the Cotton Mission settlers to want to find a cooler place to live. Quite a few of the original settlers of Washington went to Pine Valley and neighboring Grass Valley.

Robert Gardner Jr., in his diary, indicates that in the latter part of 1861:

On invitation I hitched my team to Brother Snow‘s carriage and went with him to Cedar City to attend a sale of the property belonging to the Old Iron Works, to pay a debt which was owing to the Deseret News Office. We came home by way of Pinto settlement and Pine Valley. That was the first time I had seen that place. I liked its appearance very much. Timber then grew all over the upper end of the valley, and all around the face of the mountains. There was good grass over the valley and hills with good black soil in the valley. There was a nice stream of soft running water and many nice cold springs. The valley was high and cold. There was one saw mill in Pine Valley. It had been making lumber, but was not running at that time on account of low water. The Springs were not sufficient to run a flutter wheel mill.

Brother Snow was very anxious to have the lumber business increased for all the new settlements needed lumber. He asked me if I would like to come to Pine Valley and take charge of the business. I said to him, that I had not come to do my own will, and would go any place I was sent, but if he wished to know my own choice, I would be frank and say I had no further choice of lumbering, as I had spent a good part of my time in that business, and found that kind of work kept a man a great deal of his time away from society, meetings, schools, and so forth. The timber was mostly on mountains and in canyons, and I never knew a man to become rich at the business. For my choice I would rather stay near a good settlement of the saints, but where ever he wanted me to work, there I would try to work. He did not say any more at that time. Brother John and George Hawley, L Hatfield, William Slade and family, Isaac Riddle were all living in Pine Valley at the time President Snow and I called first to see the place. They were of the old Mission. Of the new settlers or Mission, John M. Moody and Sylvester Earl were living there. At that time no land except a small garden spot was cultivated. The water had to be used for the small settlement and would not always reach there in the summer time.

James G. Bleak was the historian for the Dixie Mission and secretary to Brigham Young. He mentioned occurrences that took place in Pine Valley in his writings, Annals of the Southern Utah Mission. Some of those things that relate to this historical sketch are quoted here.

Sept. 1856 - Petition of Charles W. Dalton and Co. [Dalton, L. W. Roundy, Jeru Blackburn and Robert Richey] was presented, asking control of the water, timber and grass in Pine Valley canyons and for mill purposes and the privilege of so much of said water as will be necessary to irrigate two acres of land for gardens.

Said Co. under the sanction of this Act are hereby entitled to all the rights belonging to petitioners of the same nature, to have and to hold as the same as long as they continue to subserve the interests of the settlements.

1860 – This year the settlers who first located in Pine Valley in the fall of ‘55 and spring of ‘56, and who had confined their labor to the production of lumber and shingles to furnish Washington, Santa Clara, Pinto and Harmony were joined by Wm. R. Slade and family, John Hawley and family, George Hawley and family and Joseph Hatfield and shortly after by Robert L. Lloyd of Washington. Whereupon a branch was organized [Monday, October 1, 1860] with Elder John Hawley as President, to be under the jurisdiction of Santa Clara Ward.

1862- The Washington County having granted to Erastus Snow, Robert Gardner and Eli Whipple a mill site in Pine Valley the former mill owners joined with the newcomers and on the 20th of April 1862, Eli Whipple reports his labor in Pine Valley stating that with his own hands, though no blacksmith, he has made a complete set of new mill irons; and the mill is now running and capable of sawing from 4000 to 5000 feet of lumber every 24 hours.

It is also the intention to have a shingle and lath mill attached to the saw mill.

At this time John Hawley presides over Pine Valley Branch. Religious and other gatherings were held in a log school house which was built near the first mill in 1859.

1862 – This year the Pine Valley mill has been burnt down, but is being built and made larger.

1863 – There being three lumber companies at Pine Valley the court appointed Jacob Hamblin, Robert Gardner and Robert L. Lloyd to apportion the timber to: Snow, Whipple and Gardner mill, Messrs. Burgess’ mill, and Thomas Forsyth mill.

1864 - As saw mill interests have been increasing in Pine Valley for the past two years, there has been an increasing desire among the settlers there, to use the waters of the Santa Clara for irrigation purposes. Those having this desire contended that such use, so near the head of the stream would not materially lessen the volume of water at the Santa Clara settlements and in the St. George and Santa Clara fields.

1865 - This year a townsite has been surveyed in Pine Valley and following the extention of water privilege given by St. George City Council a number of citizens of St. George have moved part of their families there.

(This townsite is where the present town of Pine Valley is located.)

Sept. 1865 - This month a convention of mill owners of Pine Valley met there and set the following prices:

Lumber for common buildings $40 per  M

  • Fencing and Flooring $50 per M

  • Finishing Lumber $70 per M

  • 1866 - A new school has been erected in Pine Valley and a Sunday School has been commenced therein, with Elder John Hawley, presiding elder of the settlement, as Supt.

    1867-In July, Pine Valley Ward was organized and William Snow was ordained as Bishop by President Erastus Snow, also as his first counselor, John Hawley. The second counselor was not chosen at this time.

    This summer the citizenry of Pine Valley, Washington, Santa Clara and St. George have voluntarily subscribed towards making a road between St. George and Pine Valley. Pine Valley subscribed $324.50, Washington $45, Santa Clara, $60 and St. George $549, total $978.50.

    The first farming was done in 1864, and it was carried on for the purpose of determining whether irrigating at Pine Valley would affect the flow of water farther down the stream. Thirteen acres were cultivated with success and without apparently diminishing the amount of water reaching the farms in Santa Clara. In fact, the crops at Santa Clara were better than in the preceding year, and for this reason no objection was made to a small amount of farming by the people of Pine Valley. Next year the St. George City Council, which had been given control of the Santa Clara, made a grant which permitted Pine Valley to farm still more land. It is doubtful, in the long run, that this increased use of water decreased the stream flow to the lands irrigated farther down the creek.

    In good years there naturally was no serious trouble between the users at Pine Valley and those below. The trouble came when seasons of drouth, not at all infrequent, appeared when there naturally was the temptation of those high on the stream to try to use more than their allotted share; or perhaps those low on the stream sometimes may have unjustly accused those above of taking their water.

    After St. George was settled, quite a number of citizens from that place went to Pine Valley, principally to expand lumbering operations, although farming was increased, and the cattle business was expanded. Eli Whipple stated in the St. George Tabernacle on August 10, 1879, that Pine Valley would produce 1700 bushels of grain that season, but he indicated that it was a very poor season and that as much as 10,000 bushels had been raised in some years. That Pine Valley was seriously affected by water shortages is evidenced by Whipple‘s remark that quite a few of her citizens were moving to Mesquite Flat, Bunkerville, and other places.

    The mines at Pioche and later at Silver Reef contributed to Pine Valley‘s prosperity. The surplus grain produced there and in Grass Valley sold for good prices, and lumber proved a gold mine. It is no wonder that the authorities scolded those who traded such items to the gentiles; the practice created a shortage for the needs of the Saints, for Pioche paid cash, and the Saints in Dixie were compelled, in the main to resort to barter and local scrip. . . Perhaps this lecturing had some effect, but the people of Pine Valley and other settlements on the Santa Clara continued to trade with Pioche and to grow in material prosperity from this traffic. But it had its negative effects also. Outlaws lay in wait to rob the returning freighters and became such a nuisance that Wells, Fargo and Company ceased paying in gold and used checks instead, establishing what were, in effect, banking businesses at Pioche and Silver Reef. Into Pine Valley during its boom period many notorious characters found their way–robbers and murderers fleeing from the law and looking for a place off the beaten highways where they could hole up until their crimes were forgotten. Saloons stocked with Dixie wine from Santa Clara and whiskey from Pioche helped keep them occupied. But they gave Pine Valley a bad name that most of the Mormon people there little deserved.

    The lumber cut in Pine Valley was of excellent quality, and certainly the place was well-fitted for the main purpose of its settlement, namely, to furnish lumber for the needs of the Cotton Mission. Lyman 0. Littlefield wrote the following to The Deseret News on May 12, 1863:

    Pine Valley is a delightful place. It abounds in large pines of easy access. The hills in almost every direction are covered with pines and cedars and in some places there are groves down to the level land where teams can pass through them without obstruction. There are 12 dwellings here with one good sawmill in operation and two more being built. A shingle machine is nearly completed. Grass is abundant and the soil and water is excellent; but not much will be done here in agriculture, as the design of this mission is to furnish lumber for building the new locations in the Cotton Mission!

    Eventually the best stands of timber were cut, and the resultant falling off in this activity was a decided factor in the decrease in population which afflicted the little community. Some timber was sawed in Grass Valley Canyon as late as the decade of the 1920*s, but Pine Valley‘s days of lumber production appear to be over.

    In Kate B. Carter’s Our Pioneer Heritage, there is reference to the timber for the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ pipes:

    In 1866 the great Tabernacle Organ was being built in Salt Lake City and some clear, clean lumber was needed for the pipes. To Robert Gardner was assigned the duty of furnishing this particular lumber. He and his son, William, began searching the forest for a tree that would serve the purpose. Finally one was found at the mouth of what is called Middle Fork, in Pine Valley. The tree was cut down, sawed into lumber and hauled by ox team to Salt Lake, a distance of approximately 300 miles. The stump of that tree is now being preserved as a landmark of this early pioneer achievement. The story of this accomplishment has become a tradition among the Gardner family and the residents of Pine Valley.

    As the lumbering business declined and farming became a mainstay for the people who stayed in Pine Valley, they began to see the wisdom in bringing cattle in to eat the tall green grass that grew after the winter snows were gone. Many kinds of cattle were brought to Pine Valley but most of those remaining today are the Hereford breed. There is mention made in several of the stories in this book of the spring drives to round up the cattle to move them to the summer range. Some of the men had sizeable herds. Some people had dairy herds for a time.

    The town grew smaller as many moved away to allow their children opportunities of schooling and for a while the deep winter snows found only a skeleton crew of the men of the village staying to care for stock.

    About 1908, several families moved from Pine Valley because there was not enough farm land to support the many families living there. These families transferred their water rights with them. They moved down to what was called Eight-Mile Flat, an area southwest of Pine Valley. The name was later changed to Central. Those who moved were William A. Bracken, Marcellus E. Bracken, Peter E. Beckstrom, Henry D. Holt, Robert Gray, James Chadburn, Benjamin Chadburn and possibly others.

    In order to get the water from the Santa Clara Creek, a canal had to be made. Marcellus E. Bracken, with a compass, a spirit level and a few of his own invented gadgets, surveyed this canal. I was told by several whom I interviewed that father master-minded the entire venture, the surveying and the land survey and division.

    Six years later, in 1914, a group of Utah citizens united in organizing a company to develop a farming area at New Castle and down on that desert. They were called The New Castle Reclamation Company. They planned to take water from the Pine Valley canyon streams, Left-hand Fork, Middle Fork, and Right-hand Fork at the foot of the east Pine Valley Mountains. They filed on the high water. They built a canal around the mountains and made a reservoir in Grass Valley over the mountain north from Pine Valley in which to store the water. Then they planned to construct a canal and tunnel down Pinto Canyon in order to run the water onto the land on the desert.

    This was an excellent idea and a very worthwhile project, had it worked as they planned... the idea, at that time, sad to relate, broke most of the members of the company involved.

    By way of comment . . . There were men of fourteen different nationalities working on the project at one time. There were Japanese, German, Italian, Austrian, Albanian, Greek, American, etc., etc., These men camped in the mountains. I guess no one knows how many lost their lives in this venture.

    It seems apparent that school was held in Pine Valley as early as 1856 and continued probably uninterrupted until 1919.Included here is a (partial) list of the teachers who taught in Pine Valley.

    One source researched indicated that Daniel Tyler of the Mormon Battalion was probably the first teacher. William P. Sargent from Lehi married William Snow*s daughter and came with William’s third and fourth families to Pine Valley and was the first teacher in the new school building built about 1866 in the lower town, across the street north of Earl and Stella Bleak’s home. Bess Snow indicated that Sargent really knew how to discipline and control the students. She tells of hearing the story of how one day he threw a pocket knife at her Aunt Nellie. It stuck up in the wall behind her. He was smart enough not to injure her but he could really control the kids. Sargent taught there about two years.

    Jeter Snow wrote:

    Schools were held only about three months during the year. The subjects taught were reading, writing and arithmetic. A Book of Mormon was used one winter for a reader. The more advanced students were allowed to study some geography and grammar. The same books were used every year, but every winter the teacher would start the students at the first of the book again instead of letting them continue from where they left off.

    Nora Snow Bentley indicated in her history:

    I went to school which was held in the lower part of the meeting house or church. The teachers I remember are:

    Zadie Bracken, Rosie Jarvis, Annt Ella Snow, Uncle Orrin

    Snow, Don Forsyth, Aunt Hattie Snow, Uncle William J. Snow, and Emma Gardner Abbott. I don*t remember how many years nor what years they taught.

    When Uncle William Snow taught, probably in the 7th grade, we would go over to his place some nights and he would read Janice Meridith to us.

    The first telephone put in Pine Valley was put in at our place April 27, 1904.

    The present combined school and church building was built in 1867 under the direction of Ebeneezer Bryce, an Scotish Ship builder who lived in Pine Valley at the time. William Snow was the first teacher there.

    William Snow Jr., the youngest son of William Snow taught eight years. Many students who had been in his class continued their education because he was such an effective role model and they wanted to be like him.

    Later, there were two teachers at a time. Lottie McQuarrie taught the lower grades and lived with Ozro and Maryette Gardner and George A. Cole, who came from Missouri and lived with Reuben and Lucy Gardner, taught the upper grades. Next, Hannah Crosby taught the young kids in the little room and Rob Gardner taught in the big room. Stella Jacobson taught for one year in the little room and Nora Snow taught in the big room. The next year Nora Snow taught the lower grades and Arthur Gardner taught the upper grades. Metta Morris came to teach the year her husband worked for the New Castle Reclamation Company. Mrs. Morris was good in music. She had the class read the Elsie Dinsmore books. It has been said that she taught to the eighth grade test.

    The last school in Pine Valley was in 1919. Linna S. Paxman was the teacher. LaRue and Bessie Snow and Lee Beckstrom were in the graduating class.

    Pine Valley has changed much since these times. Summer Sundays now find the white New England style church full to over flowing with reunion guests, summer resort folk, other visitors and those who still claim roots to Pine Valley’s original pioneers. Much property has been sold, subdivided and many summer and winter homes dot the hillsides.

    On snowy, wintery weekend days one can hear the purr of snowmobiles and see car loads of youth with inner tubes out for a tubing party.

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    10/25/2003