Kanab, Utah To Virgin, Utah
November 22, 2020
My drives seem to be getting shorter and shorter. 🤔. Even though today’s drive was only -90 miles, I experienced quite a bit.
1. A Town Named “Cane Beds” in Arizona, Apparently A Polygamist Community
I found this article from 2006:
CANE BEDS, Arizona Ben Bistline chuckles when asked to explain why the practice of polygamy persists. The outside world, he says, just doesn’t get it.
“We just grew up in polygamy,” said Bistline, a 70-something former polygamist and local historian. “It’s part of our life. I don’t know how else to say it.”
Bistline has lived most his life along the Utah-Arizona border in a community once known as Short Creek — home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was here when Arizona authorities raided the community in 1953 in an attempt to stop plural marriages and has seen dozens of men and women jailed for their beliefs.
“They believe that it’s necessary to gain their exaltation to the highest level of heaven,” he said. “They’ve been taught that since the day they were born. It won’t change.”
Not even with the prosecution of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
“He’s not the sole supporter of polygamy,” said Lori Chatwin, a Colorado City woman who grew up there and married at 17. “It’s a religious belief.”
Jeffs, 50, was arrested Monday near Las Vegas after more than a year on the run. He appeared before a Nevada judge Thursday and said he will not fight extradition to Utah to face charges of rape by accomplice.
“Anybody who expects polygamy to go away is a fool. It’s been here 100 years and is not going to go away because one guy gets arrested,” said Flora Jessop, a former FLDS member who fled the community in 1996 and now works to help women and children who also want to leave the lifestyle.
The FLDS church is just one of a handful of Utah-based fundamentalist groups that continue to practice polygamy. Once a tenet of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Mormons — the practice was abandoned in 1890 as a condition of Utah’s statehood.
The church now excommunicates any member found practicing polygamy and disavows the idea of “Mormon fundamentalists,” although most Utah polygamists identify themselves that way.
If history is any indicator, Jeffs’ legal troubles should only serve to move him toward martyrdom, said Ken Driggs, an Atlanta defense attorney who has written extensively about the legal history of polygamy.
“Historically, it’s generally made martyrs out of the people who get prosecuted,” he said. “They come back revered.”
Jeffs is already revered as a prophet. As head of the church since 2002, he has controlled the sect’s marriages, deciding whom and when women marry. He has performed most of the marriage ceremonies himself. He is known to demand obedience and has reportedly used even minor infractions as grounds for booting some men from the church, forcing them to leave their families behind.
More than any FLDS leader before him, Jeffs has used fear to manage his flock, Bistline said. But it’s unfair to say that everyone lives and worships here under duress, he said.
“The majority don’t want to leave,” he said. “They’re an intelligent people and within their belief of polygamy, they are a moral people.”
Jessop doesn’t deny that some in the FLDS community don’t want to leave, but she also believes many are naive and lack experience to structure their lives and families another way.
“When you’re taught from birth that if you don’t live this way you’re damned to hell for eternity, that’s not a choice,” she said.
Driggs said Jeffs’ incarceration now and after any conviction would likely be seen by church members as another test of faith, but it might have a moderating effect on practices like underage marriages.
“That’s where the legal pressure is coming from. It may not stop, it may just happen a lot less,” he said. “But it won’t stop plural marriage.”
What outsiders fail to understand is how deeply the practice is rooted in religious commitment and heritage, said Driggs.
“It’s been my experience down there that the women are as committed as the men, sometimes more so,” he said. “(Outsiders) think it’s about sex and power and domination, but it’s about a lot of other things. This is what they were raised in and it’s multigenerational.
It’s their culture.”
2. A Town Named “Colorado City” (Also In Arizona) That Is Also Known For Polygamy
Colorado City is a town in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, and is located in a region known as the Arizona Strip. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 4,821. At least three Mormon fundamentalist sects are said to have been based there.
Colorado City, formerly known as Short Creek (or the Short Creek Community), was founded in 1913[ by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from the Salt Lake City-based The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The Council of Friends membership desired a remote location where they could practice plural marriage, which had been publicly abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On July 26, 1953, Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent troops into the settlement to stop polygamy in what became known as the Short Creek raid. The two-year legal battle that followed became a public relations disaster that damaged Pyle's political career and set a hands-off tone toward the town in Arizona for the next 50 years.
After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stayed in Short Creek, while the Apostolic United Brethren relocated to Bluffdale, Utah. The FLDS changed the name of the community to Colorado City (on the Arizona side of the border) and Hildale (on the Utah side) to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.
In January 2004, local FLDS fundamentalist leader, Warren Jeffs, expelled a group of 20 men, including the mayor, and gave their wives and children to other men. Jeffs, now a convicted sexual predator, stated he was acting on the orders of God, while the men expelled claimed they were penalized for disagreeing with Jeffs. Observers stated[by whom?] that this was the most severe split to date within the community other than the split between Colorado City and Centennial Park. According to the Utah attorney general's office, this was not the first time Jeffs was accused of expelling men from the community; as many as 400 young men are estimated to have been expelled by Jeffs from 2001–2006. Most were removed for failing to follow Jeffs' rules, or for dating women without his permission. Many of these expelled men and boys were very naïve and sheltered, often wound up homeless in nearby towns such as Hurricane, Utah and St. George, Utah. Jeffs was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and eventually arrested on August 28, 2006.
Most of the property in the town was owned by the United Effort Plan, a real estate trust of the FLDS. In 2007 the state authorities began dismantling church ownership of Colorado City lands. The FLDS church retaliated and indoctrinated their followers against the state, believing they were being targeted because of their beliefs. The FLDS followers became further secluded as a result. Most of the remaining FLDS view their leader, Warren Jeffs, as a martyr.
On April 6, 2010, law enforcement officials in Mohave County, Arizona, and Washington County, Utah, served five search warrants seeking records from town officers. The warrants were served on government officials and departments, including the Town Manager, David Darger, as well as Colorado City's fire chief Jacob Barlow. As a result of the initial warrants, the Hildale-Colorado City Department of Public Safety was shut down, and emergency responders were prohibited from responding to calls without the approval of county officials. Firefighter Glen Jeffs indicated that the warrants referenced "misuse of funds."
In response to a civil rights lawsuit by the United States Justice Department alleging that the Colorado City government, including law enforcement, was taking orders from the FLDS Church, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced in July 2012 that he was allocating funding to allow the Mohave County Sheriff's Department to provide daily patrols in the town.
On March 20, 2014, a jury hearing the case of Cooke et al v. Colorado City, Town of et al ruled that the towns of Colorado City and Hildale had discriminated against Ronald and Jinjer Cooke because they were not members of the FLDS Church. The Cookes were awarded $5.2 million for "religious discrimination". The Cooke family moved to the Short Creek area in 2008 but were refused access to utilities by the towns of Colorado City and Hildale. As a result of the ruling, Arizona's Attorney General Tom Horne issued a press release stating that he "wants to eradicate discrimination in two polygamous towns" and believes that the court ruling will give him the tools to do it.
Geography and climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.5 square miles, of which 10.5 square miles is land and 0.100% is water.
Colorado City has the typical cool semi-arid climate of the interior Mountain West, with very warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters, typified by very large diurnal temperature ranges throughout most of the year. The hottest day on record has been July 5, 1985 with 108 °F . Rainfall is lowest from April to June, but is never particularly high on average, though during strong extratropical low pressure systems, as much as 5 inches may occasionally fall during a month. The wettest year has been 1998 with 26.36 inches, though only 2005 has otherwise received over 20 inches, whilst the driest year since 1963 has been 2009 with 6.45 inches. Snowfall is relatively light; the most in a month was in January 1982 with 29.0 inches and that winter had the most for a year with 46.50 inches. The highest daily snow depth was however on February 2, 1979 with 13 inches.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,334 people, 444 households, and 417 families residing in the town. The population density was 317.3 people per square mile (122.5/km2). There were 457 housing units at an average density of 43.5 per square mile (16.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.85% white, 0.18% black or African American, 0.09% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 1.77% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.91% of the population.
Of the 444 households, 83.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 85.8% were married couples living together, 3.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 5.9% were non-families. 4.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 1.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 7.51 and the average family size was 7.58. Colorado City had the fourth-highest household size in the nation, based on the 2012 5-Year American Community Survey count of an average household size of 8.04 people by zip code tabulation area.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 60.4% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 20.2% from 25 to 44, 6.3% from 45 to 64, and 1.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 14 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $32,826, and the median income for a family was $32,344. Males had a median income of $24,429 versus $22,969 for females. The per capita income for the town was $5,293. About 29.0% of families and 31.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.5% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
The Colorado City/Hildale, Utah area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe Intellectual disability. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessop and John Y. Barlow; at least half the double community's roughly 8,000 inhabitants are descended from one or both.
Cane Beds and Colorado City (to a lesser extent) were distinctive in how run down they looked. Many of the roads were unpaved (they were dirt or gravel) and there were a number of discarded vehicles, RVs and trailers. I would have taken some photos but I don’t like photographing people’s poverty. Also in both towns there were a number of boarded up houses. Shudder - both places gave me the willies.
The Arizona Strip
The Arizona Strip the part of Arizona lying north of the Colorado River. The difficulty of crossing the Grand Canyon causes this region to have more physical and cultural connections with southern Utah and Nevada than with the rest of Arizona. The largest settlements in the Strip are Colorado City and Fredonia.
The Arizona Strip is sparsely populated and connected to the rest of Arizona by only limited highway links, at Navajo Bridge and the Glen Canyon Dam bridge, both at the eastern end on U.S. Route 89 and crossing the Colorado River, a few Arizona state highways and U.S. Route 89A at Fredonia, Arizona. It does have multiple road links to Utah to the north; as a result, the region has stronger historic, economic and cultural ties to Utah than to Arizona. Residents of Littlefield, Arizona, and the surrounding northwest corner of the state, near Interstate 15, must physically leave the state and reenter from Utah, Nevada, or California.
Four primary unpaved roads enter the core of the strip: from Mesquite, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Colorado City, Arizona; and Fredonia, Arizona. All four are dirt/gravel and should not be driven by vehicles with low ground clearance. Motorists should check with the BLM locally before heading into the strip on these roads, and are advised to be prepared – even rangers may not know current conditions, such as snow/ice cover and washouts.
I hope you enjoy the photos. The UFO site was across the highway (Arizona 359) from Canes Bed. The rock formation with the flag on it was in Colorado City. Lots of photos of it as I stood there for an hour as the sunlight changed resulting in different colors of the rocks. And I love the clouds we had today.
Tonight (Sunday) I am camping out in a wilderness area east of Hurricane. Dispersed campsites. Very popular - had trouble finding a site. And the dirt roads are in terrible shape - lots of ruts to attempt to avoid. But the price is right - it’s free! Low tonight is forecast to be 40 degrees - almost balmy!