A worn and hungry band of Spanish explorers made camp at Johnson Wash, six miles to the east, on October 21, 1776. Fathers Dominguez and Escalante called it Santa Barbara. They found no water for horses or the men who were subsisting on meager supplies of pinon nuts and prickly-pear cakes obtained in trade from the local Paiutes.
The Spaniards had already spent nights without water and only minimal nourishment. Lorenzo de Olivares was nearly mad with thirst after eating too many of the salty cactus cakes. He disappeared that evening stumbling up the wash. Having worried about their companion all night, the padres found him the next morning at some small pools near the base of the red Shinarump Cliffs to the north.
The territory known as the Arizona Strip confronted the expedition with some of its most brutal difficulties. Wandering first southeasterly then north, without the aid of native guides, they struggled through a harsh and rutted land searching for the Ute crossing of the Colorado River.
Dominguez and Escalante returned to Santa Fe in January, 1777 after exploring much of what is now the Four Corners region but having failed in their effort to open a land route to Spanish settlements at Monterey.
The Historic Dixie-Long Valley, Utah Pioneer Trail
Segments of the old Indian trails between St. George and Long Valley were used by Mormon pioneers to settle Long Valley in 1864 and for its resettlement in 1871 following Indian conflicts. The trail divided at the area of this marker, the Elephant Trail took a northeasterly route while the alternate Cottonwood Canyon-Sand Ridge Trail went more easterly before joining the Elephant Trail after it descended into Parunuweap Canyon/Long Valley. The desert trail, about 85 miles long, traversed deep sand, sandstone ledges and lava faults and was the primary transportation route, including mail and heavy freight, for half a century. It took four days for loaded wagons drawn by horse or ox teams to travel the distance.
This is #119 of the Sons of Utah Pioneers historic markers.
The Old Spanish Trail, the main trade route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, passed this way beginning in 1829. At the end of the Mexican-American War this portion of the route evolved into what was variously known as the Salt Lake Road, the Mormon Trail, the California Road, and eventually U.S. Highway 91. The original pack trail descended Utah Hill, passed through Beaver Dam, then followed the Virgin River toward Las Vegas. As wagon traffic increased in the 1850s the route veered westward near today’s Utah-Arizona border to avoid the river gorge.
In January, 2005 a major flood roared through this valley destroying thirty homes and causing massive property damage.
There are many markers about the Old Spanish Trail, see this page for others. This one is located in Beaver Dam, Arizona and was dedicated March 19, 2005 by the Matt Warner 1900, Billy Holcomb 1069 and Queho Posse 1919 chapters of the ancient and honorable order of E Clampus Vitus.
Eight miles northeast along this road are the ruins of White Hills, once a mining boom town. A six-year wonder, from 1892 to 1898 the mine produced twelve million dollars in gold and silver. The mineral discovery was one of the few credited to an indian… a hualpai named Jeff. White Hills had twelve saloons and two cemeteries. Water was nearly as expensive as whiskey.
Formerly known as Indian Secret Mining District or Silverado, the White Hills mining camp started in the 1890’s. The mines were rich producers of silver, especially horn silver, also called chloride silver. This large community was devastated by a flash flood on the morning of August 5, 1899 from which the town never recovered. After the closure of the mines, the remaining buildings slowly disappeared. Now nothing is left of the once prosperous mining camp. The ghost town of White Hills continues to be marked on travel maps.
Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona–Utah border, near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.
Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”