Willow Springs

After a hundred or so miles of desert travel, the lovely old cottonwoods, the other trees and green fields of Callao provide a welcome rest for the eyes. Willow Springs Station, the twenty-third contract station in Utah, was located here. Although there has been some debate as to its location (see below), the best research supports local history, which places the station on Willow Springs Ranch (formerly Bagley Ranch). The Bagley family has owned and operated the ranch for well over 100 years, and learned the station’s history from those who lived it.

The old station still stands, and still serves as a ranch out-building and private museum. It is of adobe construction, faced with wood, and located among the grand old cottonwoods which date from the mid 1800’s. An excellent spring of excellent water still flows nearby.

Sir Richard Burton describes his visit to Willow Springs Station:

"The express rider was a handsome young Mormon, who wore in his felt hat the effigy of a sword: his wife was an Englishwoman, who, as usual under the circumstances, had completely thrown off the Englishwoman. The station-keeper was an Irishman, one of the few met amongst the Saints. Nothing could be fouler than the log hut, the flies soon drove us out of doors: hospitality, however, was not wanting, and we sat down to salt beef and bacon for which we were not allowed to pay…. As the hut contained but one room we slept outside; the Gosh-Yuta are apparently not a venturesome people, still it is considered advisable at times to shift one’s sleeping quarters, and to acquire the habit of easily awaking."

Information provided by Patrick Hearty, NPEA Utah, 2005.

A great deal of controversy has arisen over the location of the Willow Springs Station. Descriptions given by Nick Wilson (an Express rider) and Sir Richard Burton do not describe the location of the place now claimed to be the station site. A foundation (Figure 27), identified tentatively by the authors as dating to the proper period and similar to the structure depicted in the sketch from an 1868 photograph (Figure 28), has been found at the spot where an 1882 survey plat locates the Willow Springs Stable. This structure, located on the Dorcey Sabey property, is approximately 100 feet northeast of F. J. Kearney's boarding house (still standing, see Figure 29 and Photos 34 and 35). This facility is about 3/4 mile east of the structure popularly known as the station house. Further archaeological investigations are necessary to establish the true location of the station.