Sanpete County History
Numerous eras of history have graced this area from the ancient times— Native Americans that worked and traded the vast resources, Spanish in lure of hidden treasure, Mormon pioneers that settled this area, Wild West robin hoods, and the present day farmers and ranchers...Wind Walker Guest Ranch lies in the heart of Utah, in the Sanpete Valley. This is the largest Valley in the World surrounded by mountains on all four sides. Many have come to the Sanpete Valley looking for something more than just rich's and solitude. They came to this valley because of an unknown draw.
Those that have come, those that left and those that still inhabit it, something always beckons for their return. Could this be because of the 360 degrees of mountains that surround this valley, the unparalleled breath of wildlife, the simple life that calms the soul, or is it that this valley holds sacredness to each individual that visits, that only the eye of the beholder will know?
On an hiking interpretive tour of ancient petroglyphs, one gains an insight into the past. The earliest settlers that were thought to inhabit Sanpete were Fremont-Sevier agriculturalists Native Americans who disappeared around 1300 AD. Mounds have yielded small stone- and mud-walled structures, as well as pottery, points, and metates. However due to discoveries that have been made and recent interpretations it is believed that this valley may have been the home to some other very ancient cultures. A man by the name of John Brewer found several separate caves, one containing mummies that were 7 and 9 feet tall. With these mummies were several gold, lead, and brass plates and artifacts that were engraved with strange characters.
There has also been a large natural clearing found just short of some historic relic caves that resemble an eagle in flight, hence giving this valley the name of "the valley of the eagle."
The San Pitch and Fremont natives that use to travel this area had a rich knowledge of utilizing the lack of water to create very elaborate irrigation systems to water their crops. Ute Chief Wakara enslaved local San Pitch Indians, who gathered and hunted in the local marshes and canyons. The Utes had adopted the horse and other trappings of Plains Indian Culture and ranged widely from an apparent winter base in Sanpete County.
Wakara at first invited Mormon settlement, perhaps for the resources it would bring, and then opposed it in a war of 1853-54, which caused a period of "forting up" and the abandonment of area towns. The Black Hawk War of 1865-72, a more serious and prolonged series of guerrilla raids, also disrupted county settlement. It culminated in 1872 with the massacre of over 6,000 Native Americans. Why did everyone want this valley so badly?
Mormon pioneers defeated treacherous terrain as they ascended into the Sanpete Valley The first Mormon settlers arrived in the area in the fall of 1849. They chose the Manti site because of a nearby warm spring, the extensive limestone quarries (later exploited commercially), and the fine farming and grazing lands nearby. The county's larger towns were established in the first decade of settlement. Scandinavian immigrants soon made up a sizable minority, and elements of their culture and humor remain today.
There have been many stories of the early Wild West Robin Hoods that passed through this area. They were mainly known as the Wild Bunch orButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This gang was known for stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Many believe that Butch Cassidy and Sundance had been shot in a shoot out in Bolivia. Many of the locals feel strongly to prove that the handsome, nearly six-foot Sundance Kid had returned to the United States as the five-foot-three-inch Hiram BeBee, a homely drunk who died in the Utah State Penitentiary in 1955, while serving a life sentence for shooting the sheriff in Mt. Pleasant.
They have since exhumed the remains of those that were shot in Bolivia and and had them DNA-tested. The results? The remains of those buried in Bolivia had nothing that could have even resembled Sundance or Butch Cassidy. Did these outlaws escape a trial for a new beginning? One more draw to the county to find out.
On another note, "ancient visitors" aligned sacred centers around the globe by using levy lines and intent. These sites also aligned with different star systems in the Universe. These advanced techniques for awakening have been forgotten, but are now re-emerging. Is this why so many have been driven to explore this valley that we call home? For the ancient knowledge that was left behind? For the exploration and greater understanding? Will we ever know?
--written by Brooke Allred, Interpretive tour guide