St. George is the seventh largest city in Utah and is a popular tourist location for those who travel to southern Utah to visit the nearby parks. The city is full of interesting areas and businesses, including many historical sites. The rich history of St. George makes it an amazing place to visit and learn about. Taking a few hours to explore the city and discover its past will prove to be an eye-opening, unforgettable experience.
Long before St. George became the popular southern Utah city that it is today, there were tribes of native people who called the area home. These groups lived, grew crops, and built their lives among the rugged red rock terrain of St. George and the surrounding areas. Today, visitors can still see evidence of these native people in the form of petroglyphs and ancient artifacts. Learning a bit about these native groups can help visitors to appreciate the deep history of the land.
Virgin River Anasazi
The first known inhabitants of what is now St. George were the Anasazi people. From 200 B.C. to 1200 A.D., the Virgin River Anasazi built homes, grew crops, hunted, and formed communities in this area of southern Utah. The reason for their abrupt departure is not known, but to this day, visitors can explore rock art, ruins, and other artifacts left behind by these ancient people.
It’s estimated that the Pauite arrived sometime around 1100 B.C. and departed around 1200 B.C. They lived much like the Anasazi, living off the land and building tribes among the red rock landscape. Just as the Anasazi, the Pauite left the landscape and no other group was known to inhabit the land for many years after.
Explorers and Settlers
After years of being a home for native people, settlers, explorers, and individuals trying to make money from the land started making their way to the St. George area. Once people began settling the area, it quickly turned into one of the most populous areas of Utah. Without these courageous settlers, St. George wouldn’t be the incredible city that it is today.
Approximately 500 years after the last native people lived in what is now St. George, the Dominguez-Escalante party came to the area. They were the first European-American people to come to the St. George area. However, they didn’t settle in this area.
Shortly after the Dominguez-Escalante people traveled through the area, fur trappers and government surveyors began passing through. Most of these groups were just passing through the area, as it took many more years for a group to actually settle in the area.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Finally, in 1854, the community of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headed west from their former settlements in the Dixie area in the east. They slowly began farming different areas, starting with a cotton mission. More families began being called to the area, until the LDS community was able to build a strong settlement in what is now St. George, Utah. The LDS community had such a large influence on St. George that, today, well over half of St. George residents are members of the LDS church. Just a short walk through St. George will reveal just how important the Mormon church is to the community.
In addition to the groups of people who have done so much to develop St. George, there are a few notable people who have been credited with having an even larger impact on the area. These individuals have helped to shape the people and the development of the St. George area. Their impact on this city can be seen everywhere, and St. George would be a very different place if it weren’t for their influence.
In 1861, as the growth of the St. George community began to increase, the LDS president, Brigham Young, was responsible for many of the decisions that impacted the group. As the Civil War began, he made the decision to devote a large portion of the land to growing cotton. He was also responsible for assigning families to the area, and by picking families that could successfully grow the community with their skills, Brigham Young is largely responsible for the communities’ success.
The namesake of St. George, George A. Smith was an LDS apostle that had a great influence on the community. While he didn’t have a hand in the actual settlement of St. George, he did personally select the original families that would settle the land, which helped immensely in the fast growth of the city.
Those who visit St. George can visit some historical sites that will help them to better understand the history of the area. There are many different areas throughout St. George that were established over a hundred years ago. Visiting historical sites in a city with such a deep history can be a life-changing experience.St. George LDS Temple
A pristine, white, towering temple against the red rock backdrop, the St. George LDS Temple is, perhaps, the most striking religious building in the country. Construction began on the temple in 1871 and it was completed in 1877. It has undergone many renovations since it’s original construction. Today, it’s the longest continuously operated Mormon temple in the world. Visitors from around the world, of all faiths, marvel at this incredible temple.
Brigham Young Winter Home
This home, which now serves as a museum, was where Brigham Young spent the last winters of his life. From this home, he helped to direct the construction of the LDS temple and contribute to the LDS community. It served as both his office and his personal residence. Today, visitors can tour the home to get an idea of how men like Brigham Young lived in the past.
Delve into the History of St. George
While there is so much to explore around St. George, between the nearby parks and other cities, failing to visit and learn about the city of St. George and its deep history will be a missed opportunity. Every visitor should take a day to explore inside the city, speak with those who know the history of the land and the city, and immerse themselves in St. George’s interesting past. So, in between exploring the nearby parks and other incredible sites, visitors should carve out some time to enjoy the amazing city of St. George.