What makes this area so attractive?
Learn the history of southern Utah and those who carved out
the beginning of this little bit of heaven.
The McQuarrie Memorial Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum (DUP) is the home to hundreds of photos, relics, and histories of early settlers in southern Utah. Tours are available and well as special events.Learn More
The Dixie Encampment Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers honors and preserves our pioneering forefathers in St. George and Washington City, Utah.Learn More
Where history resonates and creativity soars. Sponsor of annual Arts to Zion Art Studio Tour. Supporter of Silver Reef MuseumLearn More
Members from various communities in Washington County, Utah, come together to promote the history of the towns and cities of this area.Learn More
Early explorers to the area were Catholic Priests. In 1776, Father Dominguez and Father Escalante traversed this wild country in their pursuit of a trail to reach the Pacific Ocean. The Domínguez–Escalante expedition was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted in 1776 by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of modern day central California. Domínguez, Vélez de Escalante, and Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, acting as the expedition's cartographer, traveled with ten men from Santa Fe through many unexplored portions of the American West, including present-day western Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona. Along part of the journey, they were aided by three indigenous guides of the Timpanogos tribe (Ute people). The land was harsh and unforgiving, and hardships encountered during travel forced the group to return to Santa Fe before reaching Las Californias. Maps and documentation produced by the expedition aided future travelers. The Domínguez–Escalante route eventually became an early template for the Old Spanish Trail, a trade route from Santa Fe to Pacific Coast settlements."
Several explorers came after the Escalante and Dominguez expedition, such as Jedediah Smith, John Fremont, and Jim Bridger, to name a few. Each added to the body of knowledge needed to face the challenges in the mountains of the West. Much information was passed on to Brigham Young as he prepared the exodus from the United States to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
Several men were called by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve as missionaries in the southern region of the Utah Territory, with specific instructions to become acquainted with the Native Americans and to live among them and develop friendships.
Jacob Hamblin served as the lead missionary, building a home in Santa Clara.
After the Indian Missionaries, the first sizable group of settlers arrived in the region in 1857 assigned to settle the town of Washington with the goal of growing cotton.
Four years later in 1861, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assigned 309 skilled families to relocate from Salt Lake City to St. George with the assignment of developing a permanent community. In addition, 85 additional Swiss men, women and children, all German speaking, were assigned to settle Santa Clara.
In 1862, an additional 150 families relocated from Salt Lake City to St. George to support the effort which was struggling with famine and floods.