St. George's Pioneer Past

From the Native American tribes who occupied the ancient landscape to the Mormon presence still alive and thriving today, St. George, Utah is home to a history as rich and colorful as the sandstone cliffs around it. During your stay at Clarion Suites St. George, check out some of the history of the area.

Much of the pioneers' work is still visible today. Among them are Brigham Young's Winter House, the original St. George Temple, Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, the Dixie Sugarloaf, Pioneer Park and the St. George City Art Museum. As the settlements in St. George grew, the pioneers experimented with various crops such as silk, molasses and cotton. This is how St. George came to be known as Utah's Dixie.

Native American history

The Anasazi people were the first to occupy Southern Utah and the St. George area. Though they lived in the area from 200 B.C. to 1200 A.D., little is known about the tribe. Ironically, the Anasazi's claim to fame is their mysterious disappearance around 1200 A.D. The only evidence of this ancient tribe is rock art and ruins scattered throughout the Southwest. You can visit ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs outside of St. George today.

Not long after, St. George became the home to the Paiute people from 1200 A.D. to the late 1800s when the pioneers arrived. The Paiute irrigated field on the banks of the Virgin, Santa Clara and Muddy rivers where they raised squash, melons, sunflowers, wheat and more.

Mormon settlers in St. George

The first Europeans who made it to Southern Utah were part of the Dominguez-Escalante party in the 1770s. As they charted the area, fur trappers and government survey parties followed soon after. The St. George area was largely unoccupied by European-Americans until the 1850s. As the political climate grew tense back east and laid the groundwork for the Civil War, the Mormon settlers were making their journey to Utah.

In 1854, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established the Santa Clara mission two miles northwest of what is now St. George. The town was named after the Mormon apostle George A. Smith, also called the “Potato Saint” because he encouraged other members of his party to eat raw, unpeeled potatoes to prevent scurvy. Though he was not part of the town's settlement, he personally selected the pioneers who stayed in the area.