The town of Pine Valley has had a varied and interesting history. From its beginnings as a lumber and
livestock area, to a thriving town, to a near ghost town (with
only summer residents), to a recreation area, and now back to a community with year-round residents ,Pine Valley has always
been a desirable place for many. At
over 6500 ft. elevation the high mountain valley is one of the most beautiful, peaceful places to visit or to
Built by Ebenezer Bryce, its interior looks like an overturned ship. It's said that if the 'ship' is righted it will float.
Pine Valley--People of Purpose
A large and ever widening group of scholars, educators,
doctors, engineers, researchers, bankers, college
presidents, church, civic, and business leaders and a group
of fine citizens proudly relate their ancestry to the early
settlers of Pine Valley. Whatever produced such a people
might easily be traced to an inherent quality that enabled
those early colonizers to confront harsh winters with
courage, be productive in the glorious cooler summers,
hold fast to their faith, teach and live high principles on
the frontier, encourage a love of education, set goals of
substance and be bonded together by an undying faith in
God. To practice their belief they built a marvelous church
building that would tie the community together for years to
come and earn a reputation of being one of the oldest,
continuously used buildings in the church. Still loved and used by members today, the Pine Valley
Church which has been beautifully restored is now
primarily a summer branch with regular Sunday services
being held from Memorial Day in the Spring to Labor Day
in late summer. It is interesting to note that summer
residents of Pine Valley and others from surrounding areas
belong to other wards but faithfully attend this branch
from May to September, many even hold leadership and
teaching positions during these months. They appreciate
this fine old structure and the sacrifice that made it
possible. Here is a brief history of Pine Valley, its
discovery, the settlement, the actual building and a
mention of a few of the many people who made it happen. It
all began with a lost cow.
Pine Valley Discovered
Following a direct call from Brigham Young, a group of
settlers were sent to Southern Utah to colonize the
Washington and Santa Clara areas and serve as
missionaries to the Indians. Jacob Hamblin who would
become the great peacemaker to the Indians and his brother
William (Gunlock) Hamblin and Issac Riddle and their
families were part of this group. But first, it was
important they provide food for themselves and their
families to keep alive. Long experience had taught them
the value of taking some cattle along to safeguard against
starvation. In the heat of the summers it meant driving
their herds into the cooler valleys north of Santa Clara.
After one long, very hard day in the summer of 1855, Issac
Riddle and William Hamblin stopped for the night by a
clear running stream, ate a meager supper, spread out their
blankets and welcomed deep sleep. Upon awakening at
dawn the next morning a quick glance over the cattle herd
brought alarming news. One precious cow was missing.
Immediately, Issac mounted his horse and followed the
stream to search for the lost cow. As he rode on, the
territory was unfamiliar to him. Then, up over another rise
and he beheld a spectacular sight. The early sun was
beginning to spread light into the valley outlined by tall
mountains with thick groves of Pine and Spruce trees. And
there, standing deep in the tall grass, contentedly eating
away was the missing cow.
According to legend, Indians were in Pine Valley long
before the settlers to send smoke signals, to worship the
Great Spirit and hunt deer, rabbits, fur and pine nuts. On
the summer morning that Issac Riddle discovered Pine
Valley there was no indication that anyone had been there before.
Issac herded the reluctant cow back to join the cattle drive.
He couldn't wait to tell William and Jacob about his
remarkable discovery. But, this was just the beginning.
Lumber Mills of Pine Valley
As Issac Riddle herded the cow down Pine Valley in 1855 to rejoin the cattle drive it seems certain his mind was already contemplating the
economic potential of the valley
and its stately trees. There would soon be a serious need
for lumber in Southern Utah and Nevada areas and a need for work among early settlers. Would not this valley be an ideal
place to build and operate a lumber-mill ?
Apparently, Issac and others thought so. With two partners he purchased a lumber mill in Salt Lake City. It
was to become the first one to be operated in Pine Valley.
Soon others appeared, workers moved in to run them and
families followed. As the industry increased, the stage
was set to supply lumber for the eventual building of the
St. George Temple and Tabernacle.
In no time the noise of sawing lumber became a welcome
sound in the early valley, while the trails were managed by
hard-working settlers driving their ox-teams through all
kinds of weather to carry the lumber to building sites in
Utah and Nevada.
Even with all their activity there was one goal they had not
yet achieved. They desired a permanent structure, similar
to the style of the churches they had left in New England,
where they could worship God. Brigham Young gave his
approval, local church leaders Erastus and William Snow
were in agreement, there was plenty of lumber and
building materials and many willing workers but what they
didn't have was an experienced builder and architect to
plan and supervise. Then, someone suggested Ebenezer Bryce.
The responsibility to plan and construct the Pine Valley Church finally rested with Ebenezer Bryce, faithful
convert to the church from Scotland and a shipbuilder by
trade. He had good reason to be in Pine Valley. His wife
was related to the Gardners, one of the original families to
move into the new settlement. He agreed to build the
church, but he would have to do it in his own way, using
shipbuilding techniques. After working out final plans
with local church leaders, Ebenezer went to work with a
faithful, willing and excited group of workers standing by.
He had a congenial spirit. The men on the project enjoyed
working for him and the children loved watching.
After the foundation was solidly in, they formed the sides
of the building first, on the ground, then with the use of
ropes and pulleys and lots of manpower hoisted up the
sides. His signal to hoist was a little shipbuilder's rhyme
which everyone loved and repeated often for years after.
Even though the attic of the church was built like the
bottom of a ship, it was rock solid and has gained the
admiration of people even today.
Later, as a special honor to Ebenezer, Bryce Canyon was
given his name.
The Church Building Is Underway
There was an upper and a lower town site in Pine Valley.
The lower site was chosen for the church and immediately
men went up into a grove of trees called, "The Gulch",
where they found great old trees to cut, trim, mill and haul
to the building site.
Under Ebenezer's supervision huge granite boulders were
placed at the corners of the foundation with limestone
blocks along the four sides. Surely the Lord had prepared
this valley ahead with the rich resources readily available.
Even this experienced builder was amazed to find such a
Visitors today are warmed by the spirit of those hardy
folks, as they enjoy the timeless beauty of the Pine Valley
Church, built with love and sacrifice.