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Washington County

Washington County’s characteristic red canyons and plateaus, along with warm winters have helped define the county. The area was originally inhabited by the early Archaic and Anasazi Indians and later by the Southern Paiutes. In 1854 Jacob Hamblin was sent by Brigham Young to work with the Native Americans in the area and help establish a peaceful relationship between the Mormons and the Indians. In 1861 about 300 families, who were originally from America’s southern states, were sent by Brigham Young to the St. George area to grow products that work well in warm climates such as cotton, silk, and pecans. This is when the area became known as “ Utah’s Dixie.” In the late 1860’s silver was found and the mining town of Silver Reef was established. The mine produced over 25 million dollars worth of ore before it was closed in 1901. Dixie College had its beginnings in the early 1910’s with only 42 students. The college has grown to over 7000 students in the year 2000. Zion National Park was first established 1909 by a Presidential Executive order and was given the name Mukuntuweap National Monument. The name was changed to its current name in 1919 by Congress.

Many tourists come to the area each year to see Zion National Park and similar surrounding areas, such as Snow Canyon State Park. Tuacahn Center for the Arts provides a unique theatrical experience in a huge outdoor theater framed by the red rock canyons. St. George has become home the World Senior Games held each October. Many residents of Washington County live here during the traditionally cold months of the year and return to their other homes during the hottest times of the year. A visit to St. George’s historic district gives the visitor a chance to see many restored homes and museums that help tell the history of the area


Woodward School was constructed in 1898 and used as school until just a few years ago. It was named after George Woodward, who donated $3000 for materials to build it. Harrisburg was established by Moses Harris in 1857.

A number of families soon moved to the site, but the problem of good water supply forced them to leave and Harrisburg became a ghost town. With the construction of Quail Lake Reservoir in the 1980's, a number of people have moved back to the area. Many of the sandstones ruins are still noticeable from Interstate 15. Pictured are two of the five fingers of the Kolob.

The Kolob section of Zion National Park was added to the national park system in 1937 as Zion National Monument. In 1956 the region was incorporated into the national park.

More information for Washington County can be found at the following sites:

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