The Spencer Place (Vermillion Cliffs National Monument)


The Spencer Place is a small ruin in Paria Canyon about one and a quarter miles north of the Lonely Dell Ranch. Very little remains of the site, consisting of a crumbling stone structure, vehicle parts, along with other miscellaneous rusty metal treasures.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the immediate area surrounding the Lonely Dell Ranch was the home to roughly ten families, mostly polygamist, who had been excommunicated by the Mormon Church. Carling Spencer’s family was among those, setting up this homestead just a short way upstream from the Lonely Dell. In the mid-1930s, Spencer sold the property to George W. Fisher, and moved his family to Short Creek, AZ (now known as Colorado City, AZ).

Fisher was the owner of the Wilson Ranch, located several miles upstream from the Lonely Dell. He relocated the wood cabin that had been the Spencer family home just a short distance away, and lived in it part-time when he was working road construction. The cabin is no longer standing, no traces of it can be found, likely having fallen victim to a flash flood.

In 1936, the original owner, Carling Spencer was prosecuted while living at Short Creek for his practice of plural marriage, and was sentenced to two years in prison.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.