Pinto, Utah is now considered a ghost town although there
are a few year-round residents and many others that keep semi-permanent homes there.
Some long-time Pinto families include the Hafens, Milnes, Snows, Knells,
Harrisons, and several others.
Clear Pinto Creek and its surrounding lush meadows was a natural stopping place on the Old Spanish Trail
for the traders and Indian slavers
who were the main users of the trail. The area grew a good natural grass and grain that the settlers of Parowan would come and
gather as hay
for their cattle.
Pinto was one of the earliest LDS settlements in Washington County. Some of the early missionaries
who were sent to Harmony settled in the
Pinto area. Captain Rufus Allen, Richard S. Robinson, Amos G. Thornton, Prime T. Coleman, Benjamin Knell, Robert
Dixon and David W. Tullis
were among the group who went to Pinto in the fall of 1856. Rufus C. Allen finished the first dug-out on Pinto Creek and the two
families of Rufus
C. Allen and Richard S. Robinson and several unmarried men spent the winter of 1856-57
In 1859 on July 17 Pinto was organized. Richard S.
Robinson, president of the branch; and Amos G. Thornton, first and Benjamin
counselor; Thales H. Haskell, clerk. At this time the settlers at Pinto were: Richard S. Robinson and family, Amos G.
Thornton and family,
Benjamin Hulse and family, Prime T. Coleman and family, Thales H. Haskell and family, Widow Eccles (whose husband, Thomas Eccles,
on the plains in the 1856 Martin handcart company) and family, Benjamin Knell and George Day.
The Pinto branch was attached to the Santa
Clara organization. At the March 1860 term of the Washington County Court, Pinto was organized as a
precinct of Washington County. Benjamin Hulse was appointed Justice of the Peace, Prime T. Coleman,
constable, Amos G. Thornton, pound keeper and Richard S. Robinson, road supervisor.
The first settlers on Pinto Creek located where Pinto now is, according to advice from President George A. Smith.
The settlers built their houses close together in fort style, making two rows of houses. They had no trouble
with the Paiute Indians, but the Navajo Indians, about 1886, stole
some stock from the range. The main street of the town follows the general course of the
valley from southeast to northwest. The first meeting
house at Pinto consisted of a small log house about 15 x 16 feet, built about 1860. A rock meeting house 24 x
34, was built in 1866 and was for
many years also used as a schoolhouse.
In 1865 a treaty was made with the Paiute Indians by Colonel O.H. Iries at Pinto on September 18, 1865.
In 1868 the Union Iron Company commenced operations at Little Pinto bringing more settlers to the area.
James G. Bleak who was traveling
through the area with Erastus Snow and others said of their stop at Pinto on July 22, 1868, "...At this settlement there
were nineteen families. It
was a thriving place, built in fort style. Richard S. Robinson was Bishop at this
time. A very creditable juvenile choir was found here, under the
direction of Elder Joseph Elredge, formerly of London, England. This place was found to have a
fair prospect of breadstuffs for a year to come,
though there have been serious frosts."
Pinto continued as a small thriving farming community until 1916. At that time some residents who needed
more land and water than Pinto
offered bought and homesteaded the land at the mouth of Pinto canyon on the edge of the Escalante desert. They began to farm
in the area and
vacated the Pinto settlement to found the new town of Newcastle.
The Pinto area still offers excellent pasture and grazing for stock and many nice summer gardens are raised in the beautiful valley.