Leaving the comfort of their homes behind, several thousands of people joined together and headed west, looking for a place to settle and peacefully practice the religion. Worn out and ill from the long trip, after burying many of their loved ones along the way, they finally arrived in Northern Utah in July, 1847 and began new lives. Brigham Young, who was the first governor of the Utah Territory and founder of Salt Lake City, approached the tired settlers asking for a group to move to southern Utah with him and start a settlement for the purpose of growing cotton. Of those, 38 families chose to go with him on what was called the Southern Mission or, officially, the Cotton Mission, all of them from the southern states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and the Carolinas. And all of the Virginia basin Washington City was the first town established specifically for growing cotton. Expecting war between the North and the South and a shortage of cotton what’s the driving force behind the groups endeavor. It was for the reason of their experience and growing cotton that those Southern families were chosen. Started by those first settlers, who are likely homesick for their southern roots, this area became known as Utah’s Dixie.
The Early Years
The area was noted as having a favorable climate for growing tropical plants such as sugar cane, tobacco, and of course, the cotton, that they had come there to grow. Despite their hope, living in wagons and dugouts on the hillside for the first years was a difficult beginning to life in Washington City. Malaria, dysentery and typhoid were common, taking the lives of many, water was taken from the irrigation ditches and, for lack of food, malnutrition took the strength of many, making their labor that much more difficult. Possibly the most important task was digging irrigation ditches and building dams to direct the precious water from the Virgin River for their crops.
Trials To Success
From 1857 to 1891, when the Washington Fields Dam was built, floods washed out their dams at least once a year but even so they were always willing to rebuild. With the hardships, it’s no surprise that nearly all of the original settlers moved on to other areas and it was jokingly said that the only reason the other stayed was that they were too poor to leave. Later, in 1865, Young help the town build a cotton Factory and they became successful in commercial cotton production. Nearby settlements also produced cotton but Washington City was able to grow the most and it was. The town’s newly found success in producing cotton was the break they needed, the factory was credited with saving the town.
The City We Know Today
Still known as the place where, “Utah’s Dixie begins,” Washington City, is now a thriving community that has become popular with retirees who have discovered the pleasant city and enjoy the warm winter months. In the area surrounding are several beautiful national parks to explore. In town, you will find the amenities of a modern city with a small-town charm that makes you feel at home. All these years later, after it’s difficult beginnings, Washington City is one of the Southern Utah cities that has dramatically grown in the last decade and become a wonderful place to live.
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