Caineville, Utah

Frank Hat Place Caineville

Adus F. Dorsey II

Let’s admit it, life in the Lower Country has always been tough; just ask anyone who has driven through, grown up, tried to live or make a living below the Reef and they will sit you right down on a cottonwood log in Caineville and tell you so. The notorious California B filmmaker *Al Adamson and one time owner of the Rim Rock Motel in Torrey, once shot a gritty film about Caineville. Produced in black and white, the opening scene in Al’s Caineville movie is a worn and weathered wooden gate, swinging loose on its squeaking hinges, with withering leaves whistling by in the dusty desert wind looking like a dramatic scene from the 1953 movie Shane. At any minute you expect Alan Ladd (Shane) to turn his back to little boy Joey and then callously leave Caineville forever, never looking back. That very scene from the movie Shane has played itself out in Caineville more times than anyone will ever know; the town of Teasdale was once populated with a lot of the folks who turned their back to Caineville after “The Big Flood of ’09,” never thinking to return after tasting the sweet mountain water of Bullberry Creek. 

In Marian Murphy’s book “A History of Wayne County,”Ms. Marian glosses over everything Caineville, it is like she dropped her drink on the floorboard of her car around Forrest Sim’s Sleepy Hollow Campground on the east side of Capitol Reef National Park, reached down to get it and didn’t come back up until she got to Hanksville. She misses so many of the good things about Caineville in her book that it makes one think she didn’t take the time to stop at Randy Ramsley’s Mesa Market for any of his world famous cheeses much less spend an enjoyable afternoon listening to Barbra Ekker and Dee Hatch recalling first hand the personal stories of Caineville. 

To be absolutely fair, everybody has a Caineville origin story, but it depends on who you talk to whether or not it is printable and the stories get more colorful the further up county you go. Ann Snow’s 1950’s Caineville rendition in the book Rainbow Views seems to rise to the top with the rest of the cream when it comes close to what is the real truth.  President A.K. Thurber opened the region now known as Caineville in 1882, the stalwart individual that he was, Elijah Cutler Behunin heeded the call to settle in the wilderness and with a staff and flock of sheep he at once packed up his passel of kids and moved there. According to one account Brigham Ney went with him, stayed over night and left in disgust. E.C. built a cottonwood log cabin (still standing along the Fremont River,) he cut cane and wild grasses near the river to provide winter-feed for his horses and daily on bended knee glanced skyward waiting for his rewards.

As is generally the case as soon as an area was settled a LDS ward was set up and the search was on for a Bishop. In the spring of 1892 while Wayne was still a branch Sevier Stake, President A.K. Thurber came again to the lower valley looking for a Bishop for Caineville. After calling at the Floral Ranch where the Hanks families were living he ask for Walter? A.K. was directed to a sheep camp not far away, not finding Walter, A.K. left a note on the camp stove, which read, “Meet me in Caineville on Sunday.” Somewhat hesitantly and curious, Walt Hanks met the appointment and was told he was selected to preside over the Saints of Caineville, at which time Walt uttered, “President Thurber, I would gladly go on a fifteen year mission rather than be Bishop.” President Thurber then replied, “You can be Bishop longer than that if you behave yourself.”  Church records indicate that divinely dutiful Walt Hanks commanded the pulpit as Bishop of the Caineville Ward for 18 years. 

The hardy individuals that settled in the lower country immediately recognized the fact just as 1 + 1 = 2, that the conducive climate of Caineville combined with a little H2O would make seeds sprout. So armed with sticks and seeds they set out to plant fruits of all kinds, melons, cane, grain, vegetables and most importantly shade trees for those hot Caineville afternoons. Cash crops were sorghum, dried fruits, and winter apples. While fresh fruit was of high quality Caineville was just to far from any market in the early days to reap much of a benefit from it. It didn’t take long before fermentation and consumption became a viable option, and like a tank of gas in Torrey, the Caineville elixir demanded a rather high price, and thirsty miners were more than obliged  to produce some gold dust to pay for it. 

As calamitous as the biblical ten plagues of Egypt, there have been somewhat similar historical incidents take place in Caineville but they have been relatively few and far between. In the winter of 1892 – 93 the dreaded disease diphtheria reared its steely head stealing seven kids lives from their beds as they slept. Then there was the big flood in 1909 and probably a couple more that didn’t find its way into the history books. 

Today Caineville can be a great place to live, visit and is home to some very persistent farming families such as the Jackson’s, the world renowned Randy Ramsley Mesa Market, The Luna Mesa Café, the ever evolving Robinson Nut Ranch and the perpetual entry-level EMT training ground, Swing Arm City. You always see something new when you drive to Caineville. 

Just to be clear the good book tells us that the town of Caineville was named in honor of John T. Caine, a Utah Representative. John T. Caine settled in the Territory of Utah in 1852 and taught school. He served as secretary of the territorial council during the sessions of 1856, 1857, 1859, and 1860. He was one of the founders of the Salt Lake Herald in 1870, serving as managing editor and president. He served as delegate to the Utah constitutional conventions in 1872 and 1882. He served as member of the territorial council in 1874, 1876, 1880, and 1882.  Caine served as member of the Utah State Senate in 1896 and will be forever remembered as the Caineville namesake.  

  • Al Adamson was reported missing in 1995. Five weeks later, after law enforcement officials discovered his remains beneath the concrete and tile-covered floor where his hot tub once sat at his home in Indio, California, his live-in contractor Fred Fulford was arrested at the Coral Reef Hotel in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Fulford was charged with and convicted of murder, and sentenced to 25 years to life tiling bathrooms and showers in a California prison. 

References; IMBD Al Adamson, Caineville film Courteousy of Joni Taf,t  WikiPD for John T. Caine, Anne Snow, Rainbow Views 

2 thoughts on “Caineville, Utah

  1. i enjoy your stories and writing style. Thank you, always such a treat ! Walter Hanks is my maternal great-grandfather. I had never heard the story about his call to be bishop in Caineville. Thank you, once again!

    Liked by 1 person

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