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History of St. George, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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St. George, the county seat of Washington County, is the largest of all the towns founded during the LDS Church's Cotton Mission of 1861. Located in the southwest section of Utah at an elevation of 2,880 feet above sea level, St. George has an average annual temperature of 59.9 with summer temperatures well into the 100s and the average maximum winter temperature around 55. The average annual rainfall is 8.30 inches, and the normal growing season is 196 days. All these factors made the area a suitable location for the early settlement.

Earlier Native American inhabitants of the St. George area included the Virgin River Anasazi, who left evidence of their presence in the rock art and archaeological sites that remain. The first recorded Euro-Americans to visit the area were the Dominguez-Escalante Party in 1776; they were followed by fur trappers, including Jedediah Smith, and still later by government survey parties.

By 1854 the LDS Church had established an Indian mission at Santa Clara, two miles north of the St. George Valley. In 1857 and 1858 experimental farms were set up to the east and west of where St. George was to be built. While touring the experimental desert farms in May 1861, Brigham Young predicted the settling of the area. Five months later, in October 1861, 309 families were called by church authorities to the what was called the Cotton Mission. Most of those sent had abilities that were deemed essential to establishing a successful community.

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