Fort Pearce

Fort Pearce

History

History

Fort Pearce is a quick drive away from the city of Washington over an improved dirt road, and except for immediately after a rain will be accessible year-round. The site was a fort used to protect the pioneer settlers in the late 1800's, and is located along the Fort Pearce wash. This is a unique historical site with much of the structure still standing, making it easy to imagine what the fort was like when it was built.

 
Elevation Range:   30 ft
Low Elevation:   2960 ft
High Elevation:   2990 ft
Distance:   0.1 miles
Area:   Warner Valley
Cost:   Free
Rating:    (3.0)
Aerobic Intensity:    (2.0)
Technical Difficulty:    (2.0)
Scenery:    (2.0)
  1 ratings
Last Edited: Oct 05, 2016

 Guide

Fort Pearce is as easy drive away from Washington City, and represents a unique piece of history in the area.  The fort itself as well as the wash and water source was named after Major John D.L. Pearce of the Iron County Militia.

As you arrive at the fort location, there is a paring area surrounded by a short rock wall built from local river rocks.  Immediately to the West is a trail that will take you up to the fort, visible about 100 yards away.

The fort was constructed with walls about 8 feet high, but there was never a roof.  You can still see where the doors were, and you can see the gun ports in the "flankers", or the defense rooms located in two of the corners.

This fort is one of several built during pioneer times in the area, but it is one of the best preserved.  This guard post was built during the Black Hawk War, a period of time when the American indians of the area would raid the Mormon pioneers in an attempt to drive them from their homelands.  Cheif Black Hawk of the Ute tribe led various groups against the Mormons between about 1865 and 1870, stealing livestock, attacking outlying ranches and settlements, and killing settlers who fought back against the raids.  During this time both Native Americans and Mormons were killed.

As part of a protection strategy, local Mormon militia constructed various sentry posts at strategic locations, including on major trails and travel locations throughout the central and southern portion of the state.  At each one of these posts were stationed various men, who had the task of attacking and delaying these indian raiding parties.  One of them would race off as quickly as possible to warn others in the area of the incoming attacks.  Horses were kept stabled and at the ready at night, so that someone could take off with little to no warning to make their alerts.

Fort Pearce was built on one of the primary routes used by the Ute and Najavo horsemen traveled on their raids in the St. George area.  As you visit the area, notice the strategic positioning of the fort - high up on a cliff, overlooking a narrow canyon just above one of the only water sources in the area.  A small number of men could use the fort and defend it because of the location and the nearby water for themselves and their horses.

The fort was built by 20 men starting on December 4, 1865, and the construction took about a month for the fort and a nearby corral for the horses.  The remains of the corral are less preserved, but can be seen immediately south of the fort structure itself.

You can take some time to travel down along the wash as well, and see the water that was so preciously guarded.  If you look along the cliffs on the north side, you can see some "Pioneer Grafitti", left by some of the settlers in the area.

There are some interpretive placards and information at the site.  It can be hot - visiting the area during spring or fall can be best, but there is certainly enough to spend an hour or two in the area.

 

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 Getting There

  1. Take Hwy 7, Southern Pwky, driving East away from 1-15.
  2. Drive for 10.3 miles to the Warner Valley Rd exit
  3. On Warner Valley Road, travel southeast for 5.5 miles
  4. At the sign for Fort Pearce, turn right
  5. After about 1/4 mile, the road will finish at the parking lot

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