Utah's Dixie Birthplace, Washington City

Utah's Dixie Birthplace, Washington City (HM14AD)

Location: Washington, UT 84780 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 7.825', W 113° 30.528'

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Founded 1857.
After the Adair and Covington companies meetings with Isaac C. Haight in May 1857, they immediately started to prepare the land to grow crops. William H. Crawford, secretary of the group, wrote to the Deseret News, May 7, 1857, "... thinking you would like to hear from the Saints that were called to come to this place for the purpose of raising cotton and such things as could be raised in other parts of the valleys of the mountains and so far as we have examined I pronounce it a good place for that business." The city was laid out shortly after this meeting, but by whom is not known. William H. Crawford was qualified because he was elected county surveyor in August 1857. The blocks and lots of the city were surveyed and streets were named. Immediately they went to work making ditches and dams to get water so crops could be raised. It was too late to plant wheat, so corn was raised. Cornmeal became the main flour used by the settlers. It was coarse and caused some discomfort to those who ate it. The best farming ground was found along the river bottom and was only a few feet above the water level. It was relatively easy to construct a brush dam to divert the water to this land but they soon learned that the unruly Virgin could easily wash out their dams. Their first year here the dam washed out twice. Every year thereafter the Virgin washed out their dam at least once. Some years three dams were lost. In 1886 they started to build the pile dam to solve this problem. It was completed in 1889. In December 1889 it took the Rio Virgin only eight days to completely destroy that dam. The population of the city fell from over 600 to 312 by 1892. Half of the homes were vacant. Malaria was rampant and most of the citizenry were too sick to care for themselves. The new Washington Fields Dam was started in 1890 and finished in 1891. The dam was built where the Shinarump Sandstone crosses the river which was up-river thereby doubling the available land for agriculture. The new canal went into operation in 1891 and was finished to cover the newer farming land in 1893. Five major tunnels were built through which this canal flowed and they were all built with a single jack, star drill, shovel, pick, and wheelbarrow. The river was conquered! Wire fencing became available; lucerne (alfalfa) was grown in greater amount to feed the stock and was harvested by mechanical machinery and not by hand; the marshy ground was drained reducing malaria and the Cotton Factory was built. The Factory was built with private money and supplied work for the local people. It is one of the main reasons the Cotton Mission didn't fail. Construction work started in 1865 and finished in 1867 with a building one story high. It was soon learned that the weaving functions throughout the Factory had to be balanced out so in 1868 the upper stories were added and finished in 1870. It was never a money maker but supplied much needed work. In the spring of 1861 Brigham Young and other general authorities met at the Bowery in Washington City and decided that the Cotton Mission needed to be reinforced which led to the calling of 309 families in November and December of 1861, and established St. George. Snow's Grist Mill, in Washington, was built in 1866. A stone church was built in 1877 which was also used as a school. It was considered to be the best building in the area for these purposes. In 1909, a stone school, which still stands, was built partly by donated labor. The Covington Home, built in 1859, still stands. The Relief Society Hall, built in 1875 also stands and has been restored. These 1857 Missionaries, being Southerners, named this area Dixie after their former homeland, thus Washington City is the birthplace of Utah's "Dixie."
HM NumberHM14AD
Year Placed1996
Placed ByCitizens of Washington City and the Washington City Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 1:30pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12S E 277139 N 4112286
Decimal Degrees37.13041667, -113.50880000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 7.825', W 113° 30.528'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 7' 49.50" N, 113° 30' 31.68" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)435
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-99 UT-212, Washington UT 84780, US
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