Although settlers came to Washington County as early as 1852, St. George
was settled in 1861. Mormon leader Brigham Young sent a group of pioneers
to the far reaching corner of the Territory of Utah to grow cotton and wine
grapes and harvest silk for export to the Civil War-torn northern states.
Today the cotton fields are gone, the wineries are closed and the silk industry
has given way to modern, more prosperous businesses.
St. George, the county's largest city, lies along interstate 15 with a host
of smaller communities that make up Utah's Dixie. The advantages of the
county's position along one of the nation's key north-south routes between
California and places such as Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque is
making Washington County one of the nation's fastest growing communities.
The scenic area not only provides easy access to major markets of the western
United States, it has become a destination point for countless people and
businesses looking for a better way of life and more fruitful atmosphere
for growth and prosperity.
From 1990 to 1995, Washington County grew a staggering 50 percent and St.
George grew 61 percent, while the rest of the state tallied up a total growth
rate of 16 percent. The tiny farming community of St. George had grown up
and surrounding cities followed suit.
By the end of the decade, the St. George - Zion National Park areas of Washington
County were rated among the best communities in the country to retire by
Rand McNalley, Prentice Hall, Money and the American Association of Retired
People. As a result there was a large amount of construction of new homes
in the Washington County area.
The unprecedented growth experienced in the county has not been limited
to retirees, however. Young working families joined the migration to Utah's
Dixie to establish one of the most stable and reliable work forces in the
nation. They came for the climate, the scenic beauty, the family atmosphere
and explosive job opportunities. Much of the growth is due to the area's
competitive construction rates and low crime.