Compound grows: Grain silos, residential building are among the latest projects being built
Two new grain silos and a residential building are the latest projects under way at a polygamist compound in Texas, but the towering limestone temple remains the centerpiece of the secretive endeavors at the secluded ranch.
Work on the temple, which began 13 months ago, is finished and the building, in the words of one resident of Eldorado, Texas, is “gorgeous.”
“The temple is a catalyst for something, we just don’t know what,” said J.D. Doyle, a pilot who regularly flies over the compound. “If it is half as pretty on the inside as the outside, it is going to be breathtaking.”
The temple sits in the middle of the 1,371-acre property, bought by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in November 2003, 4 miles northeast of Eldorado, a town of 2,200 in Schleicher County.
FLDS temple at the FLDS Ranch
in Eldorado, Texas. Photo from Eldorado FLDS
The ranch is one of several new outposts the FLDS has set up since Utah and Arizona authorities stepped up pressure on the polygamist sect. Its leader, Warren Jeffs, has not been seen publicly for nearly two years and is wanted by state and federal authorities for his alleged role in arranging underage marriages.
Some residents of Eldorado are uneasy about how hard officials might push to see if Jeffs is hiding out on the ranch.
“We damn sure don’t want a Waco,” Doyle said, referring to the 1993 standoff between Branch Davidians and federal agents that left 76 people dead. “When it comes down to it, Warren Jeffs is not worth the life of one man or child out there. There is no use pushing buttons and trying to instigate something when you can do it calmly, gradually and diplomatically.”
The only way to tell what is taking place on the property is from the air, and photographs taken from Doyle’s plane show barracks-style and individual residences, cement and waste treatment plants, a chicken coop, a greenhouse, hay barn, orchards and gardens and storage buildings.
Some 600 people appear to be living on the property but only a few men regularly come into Eldorado to buy gas and take care of official business, occasionally visiting with Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran.
“There are no investigations here and communications are still good,” Doran said.
If anything, the hubbub over the newcomers has grown tiresome for many in Eldorado.
“Our local paper runs front-page stories every week,” Doyle said, adding that he understands that the paper has to meet a big demand for news about the FLDS.
Still, Doyle said, “People are fed up with the FLDS. We want news about the football team.”
It is possible the search for a grain elevator and other farm equipment reported missing from the FLDS enclave on the Arizona Strip could lead to the ranch in Texas.
A 3rd District judge in Utah issued an injunction this week prohibiting removal of any property considered part of the United Effort Plan Trust, set up by the FLDS to manage property in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The trust is overseen by Bruce R. Wisan, a court-appointed special fiduciary.
Wisan said his attorney has prepared 12 subpoenas as part of the investigation into the missing equipment, including two for individuals in Texas.
“We need to see where that is going to take us,” Wisan said, adding he doubts the equipment will turn up in Eldorado.