Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the St. George area was inhabited by the Virgin River Anasazi and later by the Southern Paiute tribe. The first Europeans in the area were part of the Domínguez-Escalante Expedition in 1776.
St. George was founded as a cotton mission in 1861 under the direction of church Apostle Erastus Snow. It was called "Dixie" by Brigham Young, who was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While early settlers cultivated cotton as a commodity crop, they did not succeed in producing it at competitive market rates. Consequently, cotton farming was eventually abandoned. More important to the economy was tourism, which developed as the railroads began to carry visitors to the nearby Zion National Park which today sees over 3 million visitors annually and is located 45 minutes from downtown St. George.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Brigham Young organized the settlement of what is now Washington County. Fearing that the war would take away the cotton supply, he began plans for raising enough in this southwestern country to supply the needs of his people. Enough favorable reports had come to him from this warm region below the rim of the Great Basin. Young was convinced cotton could be raised successfully here. At the general church conference in Salt Lake City on October 6th, 1861, about three hundred families were "called" to the Dixie mission to promote the cotton industry. Most of the people knew nothing of this expedition until their names were read from the pulpit; but in nearly every case, they responded with goodwill, and made ready to leave within the 1 month time allotted to them. The families were selected so as to ensure the communities the right number of farmers, masons, blacksmiths, businessmen, educators, carpenters, as needed.
The settlement was named after George A. Smith, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Today, St George is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse cities in the country! From stunning red rock mountains & soothing golf course views to green farmland & garden property. Located in the southwest corner of Utah and only 1 1/2 hours north of Las Vegas, St. George offers great amenities for any lifestyle. Diverse with retirement communities to active outdoor hiking, biking, tennis, pickleball, GORGEOUS City parks, walking trails that go for miles and miles, along with water sports, St. George has it all!