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I didn't have much spare time last weekend. In trying to decide where I could ride close by I saw this out my front door.



The remains of a volcano perched high on the Hurricane Fault, know locally and on topographical maps as Mollie's Nipple. There is a road and trail that allows access from the east. You can hike to the very top, and it is a pretty good view from up there. I decided, what the heck, I haven't been up there for quite awhile, might as well go take another look. This is my escape from the valley when headed east.







On the way I stopped at a historical site. In the early 1900's sheep herds from miles around were herded to this site to be sheared each year.



More than a million sheep were sheared here. To begin with they were sheared with hand shears. Then a gas engine was used with the necessary machinery to power the shears. This monument is built on the pedestal for the engine. You can also see the remains of the concrete pad that the machinery was mounted on.



People who've looked around the area have left their findings on the monument. You can see some blades from the power shears that are approximately 100 years old.



I had to clean it up a little bit to be able to read the text.



Here's the text of the plaque, if you're interested.

Considerably more than a million sheep were sheared at or near this site between 1910 and the early 1930’s. Some years there as many as 150,000 sheared resulting in over one million pounds of wool. At times it was the largest shearing operation in the world. Sheep herds trailed in on a prearranged schedule from winter feeding grounds on the Arizona Strip and Southeastern Nevada for their annual fleecing that took place between March 20th and May 10th. A typical herd of 2,500 to 3,000 sheep could be accommodated daily.



Hand powered shears were first used but soon a gasoline engine and a system of shafts, pulleys, and belts powered clippers for as many as thirty shearing stations. The concrete base upon which this monument sits is the same concrete base upon which their power plant was supported. Supported by wide belts under their stomachs as they leaned over the sheep, each man would shear 100 or more sheep in a day. Shearers placed the wool on a conveyor belt where it could be inspected prior to being tamped into huge sacks. A worker recalled, I’ll never forget the wild cacophony of the shearing shed: sheep bleating, dogs barking, wranglers shouting, clippers whirring, machinery clanking and belts slapping became a deafening din.



Wagons loaded with 12 to 16 three-hundred-pound sacks made their four-day journey to the railhead at Lund, Utah (northwest of Cedar City). After shearing, the she sheep, now vulnerable to late killing frosts, were trailed to mountain pastures. A narrow toll bridge just below Virgin facilitates the shorn sheep’s journey northward, a two-cents per sheep toll reportedly being charged.



At a time when this region was struggling for an economic foothold, this industry brought a great infusion of much needed capital. Hauling the wool to the Lund railhead provided work for as many as 50 teams and wagons netting about $10,000 yearly to the haulers. As many as 30 shearers were employed, and many more young men were needed as wool trompers and wranglers. Supplies and drinking water were delivered from Hurricane to the corrals almost daily. Two cook shacks were needed to feed the men. As one woman lamented, “Mother put of 1,500 quarts of fruit each summer to be used at the shearing corrals.”



Multiple events forced the corral’s closure. It was twice torched by resentful cattleman. By the mid thirties, highways and equipment improved. Trucks equipped with power shears could drive to the herds, thus lessening the stress to the sheep. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 ended uncontrolled grazing. Low priced wool from abroad caused severe permanent cuts in United States production.



The sheep, and the lenticular trails made by millions of their hooves over this region are now a vague memory.



Here's a picture of what it looked like about 100 years ago.



I tried to locate where the above picture was taken from, but I'm unsure if I found it. Do you think it was from here?

 

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Discussion Starter #2
After checking out the historical site I headed on around to Mollie's Nipple.







It was too rough to ride any further, so I just hiked the rest of the way.

Looking to the north from the top of Mollie's Nipple.



Northeast.



East.



Southeast.



South along the Hurricane Fault.



Southwest. That's Sand Hollow Reservoir, and the nearby sand dunes.

 

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Looking west.



Northwest. You can see Quail Creek Reservoir over there, which isn't far from I-15. You can also see another volcanic cinder knoll.



I had to hustle back to get the rest of my chores done, so didn't get many more pictures.

Almost home.

 

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Sweet! Thank you for the RR and pics!



Bag
 

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Looks like another nice place to ride. Kinda cool seeing some of the history of the sheep in the neighborhood. My house borders some BLM land and in the late winter/early spring, sheep are seen grazing on this land, sometimes right on the other side of our fence.



I suspect Utah was similar to Idaho in sheep population over the years. I did a quick check on population of sheep in Idaho. It appears sheep population peaked in Idaho around 2.65 million sheep, while today it is around 235,000.



While riding in the mountains, I often see old corrals that I had mistakenly thought were for cattle, only to learn that most were sheep corrals, as they needed to be herded, while cattle were open range. Seeing the corrals you photographed reminded me of many of the corrals I still see today.



Very interesting ride. Funny how so many hilltop, mountains, etc are named "nipple" something-or-other.



Thanks for sharing.
 

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Thanks, guys. I enjoy hearing of your escapades as well. Admiral, you've inspired me to create a mount for my camera so I too can shoot some video. One of these days I'll get that done.
 

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More than a million sheep were sheared here. To begin with they were sheared with hand shears. Then a gas engine was used with the necessary machinery to power the shears. This monument is built on the pedestal for the engine. You can also see the remains of the concrete pad that the machinery was mounted on.



People who've looked around the area have left their findings on the monument. You can see some blades from the power shears that are approximately 100 years old.


i realize this thread is a couple of years old, but i just found it from your recent thread. it is still beautiful and inspiring to me.



the sheep shearing reminded me that i took these pictures in patagonia argentina in early 2004.











we camped on an estancia of 50,000 acres with 25,000 sheep. those guys had forearms!
 

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Wow, I just cannot imagine shearing 25,000 sheep with unpowered shears! My Dad still runs a few head of sheep, so I have some experience shearing sheep. It's a big enough job with powered shears. Those guys are a lot tougher than me! Thanks for sharing your pictures.
 

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Awesome, RR, B-Dub.



I have seen Mollie's Nipple on the BLM map I have.

Did you know in the Az. Strip there's another MN, down near Copper Mtn Mine.

Thanksgiving time we 4x4ed to MN from the mine, it took us ( 4x4's ) 9 hours to

travel to MN and back, it was rough 40 miles round trip.



Looking forward to April 13th, Grand Gulch Mine and the Savanic.

The Savanic has a " staircase " that I'm not sure I can do on 2 wheels.

I can only descend in 4x4.

Take care,

VDR aka MarkyMark
 
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