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Destination: Southern Utah

Alice L. Beesley - September 22, 2007

People come from all over the world to see the wonders of Zion National Park in Southern Utah. Zion National Park and most of its highlights--Angels Landing, Great White Throne, Altar of Sacrifice, West Temple Mountain, Virgin River, Kolob Canyon, and the Three Patriarchs to name a few--were named by early Mormon pioneers.

In 1854, the Church established an Indian mission in Santa Clara, just two miles north of the valley of St. George, Utah. During the next few years, experimental farms were set up in the St. George area. While touring the farms in May of 1861, President Brigham Young predicted that the area would soon be settled. Five months later, over three hundred families were called by Church authorities to what was called the Cotton Mission. At the time, the leaders of the Church were looking for ways to be self-sufficient and they decided that growing cotton would aid members in several ways, especially during the Civil War. Although the early settlers managed to grow cotton, intense summer heat and destructive rainstorms prevented the product from becoming a large market and the project was abandoned. However, a nickname for St. George survived: Utah's Dixie. In the following years, Saints poured in from all over the country and President Young directed them to settle across the territory, in areas including Grafton, Rockville, and Springdale, the entrance to Zion National Park. In the 1870s, the St. George Temple and tabernacle were completed, the first to be completed in Utah and the oldest temple built by the early Saints that still stands and is owed by the Church. Today, about sixty percent of the St. George population is LDS, with about 250 members moving in each month. In addition to Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon are each less than half a day's drive away. Along the way, stop in nearby towns to visit one or more Church historical sites. h3. 4 Places You Must See in Southern Utah *St. George Temple* Despite it being a soggy lot at the time, in 1871 President Young chose the lowest point in the St. George area as the site of a new temple. The Saints used a cannon filled with lead to pound stone footings firmly into the ground. The cannon sits in a permanent display on temple grounds and boasts historical notes of its own: It was used by Napoleon in his siege against Moscow. When the troops left, the cannon was abandoned and transported to Siberia, then Alaska, and finally Fort Ross, California, where the Mormon Battalion found it and took it to Utah. *St. George Tabernacle* On his yearly trips to St. George, President Young made plans for the building of the tabernacle. Soon after the settlers arrived in St. George, they started the work, using the local red sandstone for walls and dedicating their talent to beautiful, elaborate woodwork inside. This tabernacle is where Lorenzo Snow gave his inspired revelation on tithing. *Brigham Young's Winter Home* In 1871 President Young bought a house in St. George. Two years later he added a large two-story section to the front of the original building. The home and its grounds have since been restored and tours are available. The first stop on the tour is the telegraph office beside the home. Here visitors learn why the Saints were sent to St. George and that the town was named after George Albert Smith. The tour continues around the grounds to the garden and Mulberry tree, then into the home through the decorated parlor, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor. The home is furnished with replicas and period pieces, some of which belonged to President Young, including an eight-sided table in the parlor, a rocking chair in the kitchen, and three beds in the bedrooms upstairs. President Young's bedroom is a big room with a massive bed, a secretary desk, file cabinet, and two tables where he worked. The home is located at 67 West 200 North and is open daily from 9:00 A.M. to dusk. Admission is free. *Utah Shakespearean Festival* Just fifty miles north of St. George is beautiful Cedar City, home of the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival. If you're in the area between June and October, stop by to enjoy professionally cast plays such as Twelfth Night, King Lear, and The Tempest. Check out bard.org for more information on shows, dates, and ticket prices. *Pine Valley Chapel* Built in 1868, this chapel is still used for worship today. Of the settlers in Pine Valley in the 1860s, only one person, a shipbuilder, was qualified to construct the much-desired chapel. At the request of the settlers, Ebenezer Bryce constructed the chapel to be reminiscent of the churches they left in New England, adding unique construction techniques reflective of his skill in his original trade as a ship carpenter--the corners were wrapped in green rawhide that tightened as it dried, and the attic was designed to look like an upside-down ship hull. It is open Memorial Day to Labor Day for tours and is just a forty-minute drive from St. George, close to the site of the tragic Mountain Meadows Massacre. *Visitors' Center* Adjacent to the St. George Temple is the St. George Temple Visitors' Center, where missionaries are ready to assist you with tours and questions. Seventy-three different translations of the Book of Mormon are on display. At the end of each display is a two-to-three-minute audio/visual presentation. A diorama of Jerusalem shows the major events in Christ's life with recordings and wall paintings that light up with touch plates. A genealogy chart on one wall shows how Winston Churchill, Joseph and Emma Smith, Richard Nixon, and George Bush all came from same family, and two large theatres show Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration and other films. The visitors' center is located at 440 South 300 East and is open daily. Call (435) 673-5181 for more information. *Jacob Hamblin Home* President Young sent Jacob Hamblin to colonize the Santa Clara area near St. George and to establish good relations with the Indians. Mormon craftsmen built his two-story house in 1862. They used local red sandstone and ponderosa pine from Pine Valley. In front of the house sits an original plank wagon, and out back is a stone with Jacob Hamblin's name carved on it along with the date June 16, 1865. On the main floor is a large room that was used for social activities. Among other things, this room contains a bearskin draped across a bench, a loom, and a spinning wheel. The bedrooms, with hot rocks to warm beds, chamber pots for toilets, and photos of Jacob, are upstairs. In the kitchen, a soup and stew cook pot hangs in the fireplace. The pantry displays rocks the area's Native Americans used to grind wheat into flour. The home also contains an ammunition pouch that was given to Jacob by John Wesley Powell. Grafton Ghost Town and Graveyard Educator and author Michael Rutter describes Grafton as one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the West. Mormon farmers settled the town in the 1860s to plant cotton, but due to disease, floods, and war with Indians, the town was abandoned in the early 1900s. Several buildings--a red brick church, the two-story Ballard home, and a one-room log cabin--still stand. The town was used as the backdrop for a scene in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A short distance north of town is an old cemetery enclosed by an iron gate and wire fence. Some of the gravestones are crumbled, but many are still readable. Grafton is three miles from the entrance to Zion National Park, or two miles west of Rockville. *Old Iron Town and Iron Mission State Park Museum* Because of a shortage of iron in Utah, in 1851 President Young called for volunteers to colonize a site near Coal Creek (present day Cedar City), which they named Iron Mission. After seven years of facing Indian troubles, floods, heavy freezes, furnace failure, and a crop shortage, Iron Mission and the foundry closed in 1858, but Cedar City continued to grow. Take a self-guided tour of the charcoal kiln, furnace, and foundry area where only a chimney and rock walls remain. See the large furnace that was never completed, a moulding house, which produced the iron used for the baptismal font and the twelve oxen in the St. George temple, and the Spanish Erasta (grinding stone) where iron ore was reduced in size and used to charge the furnace, and sandstone was ground into sand. The park has a fun museum and a display of old wagons, farm machinery, cabins, and an Indian artifact collection. A diorama based on the descriptions of the original foundry is on display at the park, as is a replication of a frontier kitchen/parlor. There is no camping in the park, but there are places to camp nearby. The museum is located at 635 North Main in Cedar City and is open daily except on major holidays and Sundays, November to February and Labor Day to Memorial, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Summer hours are extended.
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