Hurricane Valley Historic Rock Fort and Corral
With the settlement of Toquerville in 1858 by the first six families and others soon to join them, they soon realized that the pressures on the available irrigated farmland could not support the increasing population. Survival would depend on grazing and ranching the surrounding country. Cooperative herds were formed. The Hurricane Bench area, just seven miles to the south, seemed well suited for their needs.
These first structures were built in the Hurricane Valley approximately forty years before families settled here. They were built by Toquerville cattlemen in the 1860s to protect their livestock from Indian depredations and wild animals. Cattle were held overnight in the rock corral. They had a guard at night and herders in the daytime.
The fort was built on this high knoll, with visual access to the total landscape and within sight of Toquerville. Made of volcanic rock, the fort measured 20 feet by 20 feet. Wood and brush were stored nearby and were to be ignited in the event of trouble. Upon seeing the signal of smoke and flames, armed horsemen from Toquerville could be here within half hour.
In the mid-1860s, two Indian incidents erupted not far from here and five settlers were killed. One incident occurred near Pipe Springs were two men were brutally killed, and the other near Colorado City where three were killed. After finding the bodies, a militia from St George and surrounding towns acted on circumstantial evidence and killed seven or more Paiute Indians who lived in the area. Skirmishes continued the following years with more conflict from Indian bands. Navajo raids on livestock in the general area continued until about 1880. Only once was a warning signal made from this fort, and it was due to the youthful guard's curiosity rather than Indian hostilities. Richard Higbee, and early Toquerville resident, wrote this about the prank:
"Tommy Willis was a mischievous youngster, and one night he set fire to the brush and wood. Of course every man who could see the fire saddled his horse and rode for all he was worth to fight the Indians and save the cattle. I can see Brother Bishop Willis, now when he found out it was a prank of his son Tom's, and can hear him say, "Thomas, I am ashamed of you."
Young Tom learned two things: one, cattlemen could indeed get over from Toquerville in a hurry; and two, false alarms didn't amuse them.
The site for this restoration project was donated to the City of Hurricane by Lane Blackmore, who also made his heavy equipment available as needed.
The restoration work on the Historic Rock Fort and Corral was carried out by the Hurricane Valley Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.
Roland Hall served as project supervisor. Numerous volunteers included S.U.P. Chapter members, Boy Scouts of America, Cross Creek Manor boys, Americorps workers, and others who contributed many hours of labor in the construction of the rock retaining walls, the restoration of the Fort, and the development of the mini-park on top.