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    Category: Historic Sites

    The cotton factory in Washington City is a clear reminder cotton was once a major industry in pioneer Dixie and the reason Brigham Young sent reluctant settlers to build homes and communities here in the southwestern-most corner of Utah.  Those hearty early pioneers – many who were originally southerners from such home states as Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee – brought cotton seed with them to this then-remote locale and began raising cotton in 1857, despite facing trials such as heat, thirst, disease and the constant need for repair to irrigation dams.  But while their crops thrived, the realities of transporting their heavy bales to northern Utah meant days – even weeks – away from their families, farms and church duties … and the cost, not just in time but in dollars and cents, was prohibitive.  Within a short period of time, it became evident the solution and the only effective way to keep cotton growing lucrative, was to build a factory nearer to the crop.

    Brother Brigham decided the best way to bring his plan to fruition was to dismantle underutilized woolen milling machinery near Salt Lake City and transport it by wagons to Washington City.  Under the direction of Appleton Harmon, “the project was pursued with haste.”  The first floor of the factory was completed within a year, despite many of the pioneers who were involved at the time in the construction of the St. George Tabernacle as well as constructing dams, clearing land and building homes for their families. 

    By 1868, the cotton factory was fully operational and within two years, a second floor was added using donated funds from the people who had plans to buy out Brigham Young, their benefactor.  But at the end of the Civil War, cotton flooded the market so growing it in this part of the country no longer made sense. After 30 years, the cotton factory was closed in the spring of 1898.

    For decades, the cotton factory sat unused and fell into disrepair until the mid-1980’s when Norma Cannizzaro adopted the property and made its restoration her personal crusade. In her enthusiasm, she invested a considerable sum in repairing the exterior and renovating the interior as an events center, but nearly a decade later she admitted she could no longer support the project.

    Hyrum and Gail Smith purchased the grounds in 1993 with plans to create a historical village with the cotton factory as its centerpiece. But, they too, encountered difficulties, forcing them to put the factory back on the market.

    In 1998, Star Nursery, a successful local business, purchased the cotton factory to house its second St. George location. Star Nursery adapted the main floor of the building for its garden shop but carefully preserved the building’s pioneer construction, leaving the exterior and upper floors of the factory unchanged.  In support of the needs of the community, Star Nursery still makes the second floor available for public use and tours.

    As vacationers here in southern Utah, it’s a sure bet you aren’t concerned about gardening, but a walk through the historic cotton factory is a must-do.  Another “must do” is to register online today for your beautiful, comfortable and affordable home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals at  or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.   We look forward to seeing you.

    Looking for a pleasant day trip while visiting in St. George?  Try Cedar City, an easy 50-mile drive up the I-15 freeway.  Different in many ways from nearby St. George, Cedar City’s elevation is much higher, the population is much smaller and the weather is much cooler, but the people are just as nice and there’s plenty to see and do. 

    Also known as the “festival city” as the home of the renowned, Emmy award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival, a visit to Cedar City would not be complete without a walkabout on the campus of Southern Utah University where The Bard’s works come to life throughout the summer theater season.  Even if there is nothing on stage, the grounds are amazing, including a completely new theater complex opening in the summer of 2016.

    The Iron Gate Winery, a one-of-a-kind business in southern Utah located at 102 N. 200 West, offers tastings, tours of the wine production area, and sales of world-class wines made in Cedar City from grapes sourced from some of the finest California, Oregon and Washington vineyards.  The first and only winery and tasting room anywhere in this part of the state is open during the spring and summer each Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. while in the fall and winter months, the winery is open the same hours but only Thursday through Saturday.

    A tour of Frontier Homestead State Park (formerly known as Iron Mission State Park) will provide visitors with up-close displays of turn-of-the-20th century pioneer artifacts, including horse-drawn vehicles and agricultural implements, a variety of craft demonstrations, rotating art exhibits, interpretive lectures, and guided tours. An iron industry exhibit displays a town bell, the only known artifact from the original foundry, as well as other items of interest including several historic cabins, a large collection of horse-drawn farm equipment, and a replicated pioneer household.

    Another stop you’re certain to enjoy in nearby Cedar City is an easy one-mile hike to the Cascade Falls overlook on Cedar Mountain.  While this is considered a hike nearly anyone can manage, the trail elevation is about 8900 feet in altitude … and it is accessible only in the summer months when there is no threat of snowfall.

    You are also certain to enjoy a drive – generally best seen from June through October – through the Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon State Park to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a natural amphitheater, stretching 3 miles across and about 2,000 feet deep. Remember though, for those who find it difficult to breath at high elevation, the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet above sea level.

    You can always return to Cedar City If you haven’t crossed everything off your to-do list, but the best thing about daytrips is coming back at the end of the day to your comfortable and affordable home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals or Five Season Vacation condominiums.  Register online today at for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. We’ll be waiting for you!

    The Hurricane Canal, which for more than 80 years carried Virgin River water from the “upriver” communities of Springdale, Rockville and Virgin to homes and farms on the Hurricane Bench, is an engineering miracle.  The story of its construction by second-generation settlers is one of backbreaking labor, creative innovation and sustained determination against the odds. 

    The canal is a suspended rock-lined delivery channel on the hillside on your right, clearly visible to tourists and residents traveling to Zion National Park.  You may not recognize it as you motor through small communities and up the hill toward the park, but this 17.5-mile waterway was chipped through rock cliffs by 3 – 300 laborers using only picks and shovels – and an occasional blast of dynamite – to bring water to the parched Hurricane Valley.  Today, there are other water sources for farming and ranching in this part of Washington County, but it is thanks to a handful of visionary men committed to stay put and raise their families here that the Hurricane Canal was built.

    The Hurricane Canal, dry since 1985, is now a pleasant and memorable hike.  There are places where the canal has been ravaged by years of neglect, and there are the anticipated critters along the way, so hikers should be alert but will certainly find lots to enjoy, including seashells along your way – left over from the ancient Lake Bonneville which millions of years ago covered this part of Utah to the tops of the mesas. 

    A word of warning:  hiking the Hurricane Canal is not advised in the heat of the summer.  Despite its name and history, there is no water anywhere along the way.  Exploring the canal is something you will want to do on your vacation in Southern Utah, but it is best done in the cool part of the year (mid-November to mid-February) and always with reliable, close-toed shoes, a big brimmed hat and lots of bottled water.

    No warning is necessary when it comes to finding a beautiful resort rental as your home-away-from-home when vacationing in St. George.  Whether you are here for a week or a month, we will be waiting to make you comfortable after your hiking adventure at the 5 Seasons Vacation condominiums and St. George Resort Rentals.  Register online today at for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

    The Arizona Strip is a 2-million acre section of northwestern Arizona, although in many respects it is more a part of Washington County, UT. The Arizona Strip, located between downtown St. George and the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park, provides prized grazing for sheep and cattle and located between downtown St. George and the Grand Canyon, has the lowest elevation and the highest temperatures in the state.  It is also a region of colorful rocks, breathtaking beautiful scenery, and impressive contrasts in terms of rainfall, vegetation, animal life and geology.

    The Dixie Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (also known as DASIA), a non-profit organization which came into being in 1994, has a mission to enhance understanding of the Arizona Strip’s history and natural resources in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management in both Utah and Arizona, and the National Forest and National Park Service offices in southern Utah.

    The DASIA office, located at 345 S. Riverside Drive,  oversees five wilderness areas, including the internationally known Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail; nine Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and two river segments suitable for Wild & Scenic River designation.  In these remote areas of the desert, there are approximately 4,000 miles of unpaved roads leading to spectacular scenic vistas, remoteness and solitude among rough scenic canyons and ponderosa pine forests.

    DASIA’s on-site retail store also offers an assortment of interpretive resources, detailed maps, and souvenirs, while the Field Experience trip planning program can assist in your planning needs.

    Speaking of planning, if you’re planning a vacation to southern Utah, you’ll need a comfortable home-away-from-home whether your time in the St. George area is a week or a month.  Register online today at for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

    When optometrist Dr. Sheldon Johnson decided to level some property on his farmland in St. George, he had no idea his seemingly inconsequential task would change his life from that day forward while creating a new attraction which would bring thousands of dinosaur-loving tourists and curious visitors to his hometown.  A thick block of sandstone he found under sedimentary rock revealed an unexpected surprise to the landowner – a large dinosaur track preserved in 3-dimension.  But the surprises didn’t stop there.  In the 15 years since this discovery was made, thousands more tracks, fossilized bones and fish, shells of small aquatic animals, leaves and seeds of plants have been unearthed and identified from 200 million year-old sandstone and mudstone along the shores of an ancient lake, now near downtown St. George, UT.

    Dr. Johnson and his wife, LaVerna worked with Utah State Paleontologist Dr. Jim Kirkland and other scientists, local businesses and elected officials to decide how this find would be preserved and protected in a creative learning environment.  The answer is the Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, a beautiful museum built directly over the original find. 

    In addition to the tracks clearly on display everywhere you look, museum staff have created interesting videos and displays to explain the site to young and old alike.  Displays from other dino-sites come and go, as well often providing a different perspective on dino-life in the world’s Jurassic era.

    The Dinosaur Discovery site is open at 2180 East Riverside Drive every Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the summer months (March 1 – September 30) including all summer holidays.  From October 1 to February 28, the museum is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays as well as winter holidays.

    Tickets are $6 for Adults, $3 for children ages 4-11, and those under age 4 are free.  There are also discounted Group rates (10 or more).

    When it comes time to schedule your one week or one month vacation home-away-from-home, make tracks to find everything you need to know about the comfort and convenience of 5 Seasons Vacation con-dino-miniums and St. George Resort Rentals.  Register online today at for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

    Still A Community Of Stark Contrast

    Silver Reef, a mid-19th century boom town located about 20 miles north of St. George, is a delightful mix of early Washington County history and beautiful high-end homes tucked away in our famous red rock desert terrain.

    Following the discovery of silver in 1876, Silver Reef became a thriving and boisterous community – almost overnight. In less than 60 days, Silver Reef went from isolated desert to a community of about 1500 residents. This rough-and-tumble mining town was a stark contrast to the religiously based agricultural communities in nearby Leeds, Washington City, Hurricane and St. George, which made for cautious relationships between the citizenry, though some tried hard to maintain the peace.

    A few even developed friendships, such as the close relationship between sureveyor, musician, judge and Mormon leader John Menzies McFarlane and Silver Reef’s Catholic priest Reverend Lawrence Scanlan. Father Scanlon wanted to celebrate a high mass with his congregation but had neither a finished church nor a choir. His friend McFarlane, who was then employed at Silver Reef, suggested the mass could be held in the St. George Tabernacle where he regularly conducted a 30-voice choir he was confident could learn the unfamiliar music in a matter of weeks. Discussion among local Mormon leaders resulted in a favorable decision. On May 25, 1879, the tabernacle filled with Catholics who had traveled great distances to attend and many curious Mormons. Father Scanlan is reported to have said, as he began the service, “I think you are wrong and you think I am wrong but this should not prevent us from treating each other with due consideration and respect.”

    Today the beautiful landscape, in which Silver Reef still exists, hosts a community of attractive modern homes as well as a few intact historic stone buildings, including the sturdy Wells Fargo station, which have survived the ravages of time and temperature.

    Visit Silver Reef on your next vacation to southern Utah. You won’t need to strike it rich to enjoy the beautiful accommodations waiting for you at St. George Resort Rentals. Reserve your rental today. We look forward to serving your vacation needs whether for a week or a month.

     Mountain Meadow

    It is not something most longtime residents like to talk about, because the Mountain Meadows massacre was the darkest day in Southwestern Utah history.  Today a monument to this travesty sits on a knoll overlooking the site where, in 1857, 120-California bound travelers were killed by southern Utah Mormon militia and their Native American allies. 

    Through the years there has been much discussion and speculation as to what led up to this attack on innocent travelers, but it is believed by most scholars and historians, the incident resulted from the legacy of persecution the Mormons had experienced in Missouri and Illinois before their exodus west, and a growing hysteria about the possibility of war between Mormons and federal troops. In the summer of 1857, a large contingency of federal troops was marching to Utah to put down what had been reported to be an alleged Mormon rebellion.  Tragically the ill-fated Baker-Fancher party from Arkansas and Missouri was passing through southern Utah during the height of the hysteria.

    Beginning in 1988, the Mountain Meadows Association, composed of descendants of both the Baker–Fancher party victims and the Mormon participants, designed a new monument in the meadows.  It was completed in 1990 and is maintained by the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation.  In 1999 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints replaced the U.S. Army’s marker and the 1932 memorial wall with a second monument, which it now maintains.

    To see the on-site monument and learn more of the history of this terrible event, drive approximately 20 miles north out of St. George on Utah Hwy. 18.  Watch for the sign (on the left side of the highway).  Turn left (west) into a parking lot just off the highway and make the five-minute walk up a wheelchair-accessible asphalt trail to the monument.

    A visit to Mountain Meadow might not be on your “must see” list, but it is a spectacular drive and a reminder of what can happen in a world gone mad.  Reserve your stay today and enjoy our welcoming and friendly community and the comfortable surroundings waiting for you at St. George Resort Rentals.

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    Imagine an opportunity to meet someone who lived more than a century ago. Suppose you could ask him or her about what life was like “back then,” before air-conditioning, before our modern forms of transportation … even before indoor plumbing. What would you ask?The educational and entertaining St. George LIVE! is your opportunity to query such early pioneers as Brigham Young, Erastus Snow, Orson Pratt, Jacob Hamblin, Judge John Menzies Macfarlane and other southern Utah settlers.

    St. George LIVE! begins at 10 a.m. at the St. George Art Museum, located in the Pioneer Center for the Arts. On the corner of Main Street and 200 North, volunteers and buses are waiting to introduce you to some of this community’s most interesting early citizens. Every Tuesday through Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you will travel to six sites aboard an air-conditioned bus where historic figures, in authentic costumes, come alive to describe what it was like living in Dixie at the turn of the century.

    You will see the Opera House, Tabernacle, Pioneer Courthouse and Brigham Young’s home, all with restrooms and water available. Guests interact with the pioneers, see a replica of the odometer which measured the walk across the Plains, participate in a water stealing trial, hear stories of the settlers and gain a new appreciation for those who came before us. Tickets are $3 per person for those 12 and older. Younger children are free when accompanied by a paying adult; and, parking is available behind the Art Museum off 250 North.

    For more information or group reservations, call Angie at 435.627.4510 ext. 112, or 435.673.5818. Also visit St. George LIVE! online at If you need reservations for the best in vacation rentals, register online today at for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.


    It’s hard to believe, when temperatures in St. George in July or August are uncomfortably in the triple digits, Pine Valley, just 32 miles up Utah Highway 18, is 25+ degrees cooler.  The drive itself is spectacular, passing along the upper rim of Snow Canyon State Park, then through the volcano field about ten miles out of downtown St. George.  Note the two (now extinct) black cinder cones, responsible for the black lava rock strewn chaotically around this part of Washington County.

    You can feel the drop in temperature as you climb the 4000 feet in elevation to the little community where pioneer women and children spent the summer months.  When you turn right off Utah Hwy. 18, after passing through the small town of Central (follow the strategically placed signs), the change of landscape means you have left the Mohave desert behind and crossed over into the Great Basin, the largest desert in the United States. 

    Besides the refreshing change in temperature, Pine Valley’s claim-to-fame is its history.  There are amazingly beautiful new homes – some second homes, others year-round residences – interspersed among dozens of pioneer homes, dating back to the mid-1800’s and lovingly maintained by generations of descendants of early settlers.  Certainly one of the most easily recognizable structures in the valley is the tiny, two-story, white frame “Mormon” chapel, built in 1868, still in use today and reputed to be the most photographed church building in the state.  Built by Australian shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce (for which Bryce Canyon National Park was named), the wood frame walls were assembled on the ground, then raised into position and joined with wooden pegs and rawhide, still clearly visible in some places throughout the building.  Free tours are given during the summer months from 9 a.m. until dusk.

    When you return to St. George, we’ll have your beautiful, comfortable and air-conditioned vacation rental waiting for you.  Reserve your rental online today at

    grafton-ghost-townGrafton, not far from Zion National Park, is said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West – and filmmakers through the years have found it to be the perfect backdrop for several movies, including 1929’s “In Old Arizona” – the first talky filmed outdoors.   But no one who has ever seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will forget the memorable “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross riding a bicycle through Grafton.

    The tiny town of Grafton, part of Brigham Young’s efforts to settle the Utah territory, was established in 1859 as part of the southern Utah cotton mission. The town grew quickly with some 28 families by 1864, each farming about an acre of land. Soon there were irrigation canals and orchards (some which can still be seen providing shade here in the desert).

    In June 1997, a partnership was formed including descendants of early Grafton homeowners, the Utah State Historical Society and the state’s Division of State History, the Bureau of Land Management, and others, dedicated to the preservation, protection and preservation of this early settlement.

    When you travel to Grafton be sure to bring water and a camera.  The picturesque site is small but there’s lots to see and photograph.  It’s on private property, but open to visitors year round.  Cross the old truss bridge in Rockville – 3 miles west of Springdale on Utah Hwy. 9, then take an immediate turn and drive 3.5 miles west along the dirt road to find the old adobe church and those few remaining structures beneath the red ridges of Zion National Park.

    This is one more adventure awaiting you here in Utah’s Dixie and we have a beautiful place for you to stay.  Register online to enjoy the luxurious St. George Resort Rentals.  There’s not a ghost of a chance you will be disappointed. We look forward to serving your vacation needs whether for a week or a month.

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