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About Saint George

St. George is a city located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Utah, and the county seat of Washington County, Utah. It is the principal city of and is included in the St. George, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is 119 miles (192 km) northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, and 303 miles (488 km) south of Salt Lake City on Interstate 15.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, St. George had a population of 72,718 in 2007, up from 49,728 in 2000. In 2005, St. George surpassed Layton as the eighth-largest city in Utah. From 1990 to 2000, St. George beat Las Vegas by a mere 0.6% as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. This trend has continued, with St. George being declared the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. (behind Greeley, Colorado) in September 2005. In 2007, the metropolitan area (defined as Washington County) had an estimated 140,908 residents. The population of St. George and surrounding cities in 2050 is projected to be at more than 700,000 residents.

St. George is the population and commercial center of Utah's Dixie, a nickname given to the area when Mormon pioneers grew cotton in the warm climate. St. George's trademark is its geology — red bluffs make up the northern part of the city with two peaks covered in lava rock in the city's center. The northeastern edges of the Mojave Desert are visible to the south. Zion National Park can be seen to the east, and the Pine Valley Mountains loom over the city to the north and northwest. The climate has more in common with the Desert Southwest than the rest of the state, with scorching hot summers and mild, mostly snowless winters. The city has recently developed into a major retirement destination.

History

St. George was founded as a cotton mission in 1861 under the direction of Brigham Young, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons or LDS Church)— part of a greater church effort to become self-sufficient. While the early settlers did manage to grow cotton, it was never produced at competitive market rates; consequently, cotton farming was eventually abandoned.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Brigham Young organized the settlement of what is now Washington County, Utah.

“Fearing that, the war would take away the cotton supply, he began plans for raising enough in this western country to supply the needs of his people. Enough favorable reports had come to him from this warm country below the rim of the [Great] Basin, that he was convinced cotton could be raised successfully here. At the general church conference in Salt Lake City on October 6th, [1861], about three hundred families were “called" to the Dixie mission to promote the cotton industry. Most of the people knew nothing of this expedition until their names were read from the pulpit; but in nearly every case, they responded with good will, and made ready to leave within the month’s time allotted to them. The families were selected so as to ensure the communities the right number of farmers, masons, blacksmiths, businessmen, educators, carpenters, as needed.” 

The settlement was named after George A. Smith, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In April 1877, the LDS Church completed the St. George Utah Temple. It is the Church's third temple, and, currently, its longest continually-operating temple.

St. George was the location of the 1998 United States Academic Decathlon national finals.

The city began booming in the mid-1980s, first as a retirement hotspot and tourist gateway to Utah's color country.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.9 square miles (168.0 km²), of which, 64.4 square miles (166.8 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (0.72%) is water.

St. George lies in the lowest elevation region of the state, Dixie, with most of the city lying below 3,000 feet (900 m). The city is surrounded by mountains and red sandstone buttes, and it lies at the very northeastern edge of the Mojave Desert. The Virgin River flows through the city. The Santa Clara River also flows on the east side of the city before merging with the Virgin River to the south. In early 2005, major flooding occurred within these two rivers. One person was killed and several houses were destroyed by the raging Santa Clara River.

The city borders Arizona, and is located between the towns of Santa Clara and Ivins to the west and Washington to the east. The core of the city, including its downtown, Dixie State College, convention center, and hospital, are located in a small valley overlooking the Virgin River and surrounded by low lava and sandstone bluffs. The city's southern section, Bloomington, is more typical of the Mojave Desert, with desert scrub and gravel dominating the landscape. The southeast part of the city contains some farming along the Virgin River, but like the west and northwest parts of the city has become increasingly dominated by suburban-style development.

Geology

In Southern Utah, soil and rock formations are red in appearance due to the presence of iron oxide. Although portions of the older section of the city (particularly the southern part near the Virgin River) lie on floodplain alluvium, much of St. George is built directly upon Jurassic, Triassic, and Permian period sedimentary bedrock. The following formations—listed in chronological order—can be found within the city limits.

Kaibab Limestone (Permian): Grey fossiliferious limestone, exposed at the center of the Virgin River anticline along Horseman Park Drive and in the low hills to the south of South Bloomington Hills.

Moenkopi Formation (Triassic): Chocolatey-red and white banded mudstone, shale, limestone, and siltstone containing thick layers of gypsum, exposed at Bloomington, South Bloomington Hills, and the south side of Webb Hill.

Shinarump Conglomerate (Triassic): Yellow to brown cliff-forming sandstone and conglomerate containing fossilized oyster shells and petrified wood. Forms the cliff faces north of Bloomington, on Webb Hill, and along the Virgin River south of 1450 South Street. This is actually the lowest member of the Chinle formation.

Chinle Formation (Triassic): Purple, white, grey and locally green bentonitic shale weathering to clay. Because of the softness of the strata, structures built on this formation run a higher risk of settling or slippage. The Chinle formation underlies large portions of St. George, including North Bloomington Hills, much of Green Valley, and much of the east part of the city around Riverside Drive and Pine View High School.

Moenave Formation (Jurassic): Red and orange sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone. There is some confusion about distinguishing between the Springdale sandstone member of the Moenave formation and the overlying Navajo sandstone, which is similar in appearance, in the St. George area. It is now generally assumed that the red cliffs to the north of the old part of the city (north of Red Hills Parkway) and at the Dixie Red Hills golf course are part of the Moenave formation. Other exposures include cuts into the east and west Black Hills and the southern part of Dixie Downs.

Kayenta Formation (Jurassic): Red, orange, and purple sandstone, shale, and mudstone. Forms slopes below the massive Navajo sandstone in the northern part of the city including northern Dixie Downs and along Snow Canyon Parkway.

Navajo Sandstone (Jurassic): Grey to brown, red, and (in its upper layers) white massive sandstone. Forms cliff faces above Snow Canyon Parkway and white outcrops at Winchester Hills.

Basaltic lava flows from the Quaternary period form the black ridges to the east and west of the old part of St. George city. The volcanic eruptions producing these flows are thought to date back 1.2 million years.

St. George straddles the line between the Colorado Plateau region to the east with its mesas, and the basin and range to the west with its broad landscapes and cactus forests. Other points of geologic interest include the Virgin River anticline; the rock has eroded away in the center leaving shear walls surrounding the "Purgatory Flats" area to the east of St. George. Another geologic feature is Pine Valley Mountain, composed of one solid piece of granite, it is one of the largest laccoliths in the world.

Climate

Because of the city's low elevation and southerly location, St. George is the hottest part of the state and has a mid-latitude arid climate (Koppen BWk), with maximum daily July temperatures averaging about 102 °F (39 °C). The hottest temperature ever recorded in Utah, 117 °F (47 °C), was recorded in St. George on July 5, 1985 (this was the state record until July 4, 2007, when 118 °F (48 °C) was recorded south of the city near the Arizona border). The record high minimum temperature (a.k.a. the record warm low temperature) is 89 °F (32 °C), set on July 15, 1970. In winter, temperatures frequently drop below freezing overnight (due to radiational cooling resulting from low humidity), but temperatures warm into the 50s°F (low 10s°C) during the day. Both the record low temperature of -11 °F (-24 °C) and record low maximum (a.k.a. cold high) temperature of 17 °F (-8 °C) were set on January 22, 1937.

St. George lies in a desert and averages 8.25 inches (210 mm) of precipitation annually. Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, except for a dry period from late April through June (after the Pacific storm season but before the monsoon). Precipitation mostly comes from the Pacific Ocean from late fall through winter and early spring. The storm track usually lifts north of the city by mid-April. The summer monsoon from the Gulf of California can bring localized but often intense thunderstorms from mid-July through mid-September. One such storm dropped the record single day precipitation in the city, with 2.39 in (61 mm) on August 31, 1909. Snow is rare, but not unheard of, averaging 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) annually. It has been recorded as early as October 29 (in 1971) and as late as April 11 (in 1927). The record single day snowfall is 10.0 in (25.4 cm), set on January 5, 1974.

Weather data for St. George, Utah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
(22)
84
(29)
91
(33)
100
(38)
108
(42)
115
(46)
117
(47)
113
(45)
109
(43)
99
(37)
88
(31)
75
(24)
117
(47)
Average high °F (°C) 54
(12)
60
(16)
68
(20)
77
(25)
86
(30)
96
(36)
102
(39)
100
(38)
93
(34)
80
(27)
65
(18)
54
(12)
78
(26)
Average low °F (°C) 26
(-3)
31
(-1)
36
(2)
43
(6)
51
(11)
59
(15)
67
(19)
65
(18)
55
(13)
43
(6)
32
(0)
26
(-3)
45
(7)
Record low °F (°C) -11
(-24)
1
(-17)
12
(-11)
18
(-8)
20
(-7)
35
(2)
41
(5)
43
(6)
25
(-4)
20
(-7)
4
(-16)
-4
(-20)
-11
(-24)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.07
(27.2)
1.02
(25.9)
0.93
(23.6)
0.53
(13.5)
0.39
(9.9)
0.19
(4.8)
0.67
(17)
0.76
(19.3)
0.60
(15.2)
0.68
(17.3)
0.64
(16.3)
0.77
(19.6)
8.25
(209.6)

Economy

Along with its increasing population, the economy of St. George and surrounding areas has boomed in recent years.

One of St. George's most significant corporations is SkyWest Airlines, which has its corporate headquarters in St. George. Wal-Mart has a large distribution center located near St. George. In 2003, Intermountain Health Care opened a new $100 million, 196 bed, 420,000-square-foot (39,000 m2) hospital building.

A large part of the economy of southwestern Utah comes from tourism. St. George is in proximity to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, as well as several state parks and recreational areas. It is a little less than an hour drive from the Tony award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival. Golf also plays a large part in the city's tourism industry. St. George offers one of the highest number of golf courses per capita in the country. Special events such as the St. George Marathon and the Huntsman Senior Games draw thousands to St. George each year. The St. George Marathon is currently the 13th largest marathon in the country.

Transportation

The city is on the Interstate 15 corridor, 125 miles (201 km) south of the western terminus of Interstate 70. It has access to the Interstate 10 and Interstate 40 corridors via U.S. Route 93, 120 miles (190 km) southwest.

St. George does not have access to any rail service. The Union Pacific line between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas is about 60 miles (97 km) north of the city. Community growth has led to construction of a new regional airport, as well as a beltway through the much of the urban area. The new airport will replace the current St. George Municipal Airport, which is of insufficient size and has no capacity for expansion or accommodation of larger aircraft. The $175 million plans for the airport include a single runway capable of accommodating regional jets as well as other larger commercial jet aircraft. The airport broke ground on October 9, 2008, and completion is expected in 2011.

SunTran is St. George's public transit system and operates 4 bus routes in the city.

Sports

The St. George community has been the home to two minor league independent baseball teams. The first, the St. George Pioneerzz (originally the Zion Pioneerzz), played in the independent Western Baseball League from 1999-2001, winning the league championship in 2000. A new franchise, owned and managed by former major league player Cory Snyder, was awarded to Utah's Dixie to begin play in the 2007 season. The new team, the St. George Roadrunners, plays in the independent Golden Baseball League.

Three of the city's high schools (Dixie, Pine View, and Snow Canyon) play in 4A state competition. A fourth school, Desert Hills High School, began play in 2008 as a 3A school. Dixie State College participates in the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference. Some famous DSC athletes are Corey Dillon, Anton Palepoi, Reno Mahe, and Scott Brumfield, who all played in the NFL. Marcus Banks, Lionel Hollins, Keon Clark, and Mo Baker are Dixie players who played in the NBA, and former Rebels Bradley Thompson and Brandon Lyon currently play in the major leagues. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst played at Dixie College.

The city also hosts nationally-known events, such as the St. George Marathon, Huntsman World Senior Games, and Ironman Triathlon (beginning in May, 2010).

Media

The Spectrum, which is owned by Gannett, is the local, daily newspaper. The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret Morning News, and Las Vegas Review-Journal / Las Vegas Sun are also heavily distributed in St. George and offer home delivery.

St. George has local televison station KCSG Channel 14, a MyNetworkTV affiliate, which broadcasts local news "Live" at 5:30PM and 9:00PM. The major television network affiliates are Salt Lake City stations that have broadcast translators in the St. George area. The Las Vegas NBC affiliate, KVBC has a local translator on which some of its programming airs two hours later than the same programming broadcast on KSL.

KDXU 890 is the main news radio station in St. George. It carries local programming from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. In July 2007, Sports Radio 1210 AM became an ESPN Radio network affiliate in Southern Utah. Devin Dixon Hosts "The Drive" w/devin dixon from 4-6pm every weekday afternoon. Music stations in the area include Sunny 106.1(90's & now), B92.1/96.7 (Today's Hit

The two leading radio broadcasting companies in Southern Utah are Cherry Creek Radio & Canyon Media broadcasting. Cherry Creek Radio St. George broadcasts 8 local stations including News Station KDXU 890, which carries local programming from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. KNPR, the National Public Radio affiliate from Las Vegas, has a translator near St. George and features news reports from Southern Utah with some frequency. Sunny 106.1FM broadcasts music from the 90's & today. B92.1/96.7 KXBN-FM, broadcasting "today's hit music." Sports Radio 1210 AM-KUNF-ESPN, broadcasting sporting events & talk. Star 98FM-KREC, playing adult contemporary. The Fox 102.3/107.3 KXFF FM, broadcasts "super Hits of the 60's & 70's and more." Canyon Media Broadcasting has four local stations: 99.9FM KONY Country; KZHK 95.9FM The Hawk (classic rock); 94.1 FM The Planet; and KZNU Fox News Radio 1450AM.

There are three low power FM stations in St. George: KOEZ-LP, broadcasting a variety of Spanish-language programming at 105.1; KWBR-LP, broadcasting a classical music format at 105.7; and KTIM-LP, broadcasting travel information at 101.9.

Education

St. George is home to Dixie State College of Utah, a four-year institution. It is also home to four high schools, Dixie High School, Pine View High School, Desert Hills High School, and Snow Canyon High School, as well as a number of elementary, intermediate, and middle schools. Nearby Ivins is home to Utah's first charter high school, Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts, which provides an alternative education with no tuition costs to any Utah resident.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.
 %±
1870 1,142  
1880 1,384   21.2%
1890 1,377   −0.5%
1900 1,690   22.7%
1910 1,769   4.7%
1920 2,271   28.4%
1930 2,434   7.2%
1940 3,591   47.5%
1950 4,562   27.0%
1960 5,130   12.5%
1970 7,097   38.3%
1980 11,350   59.9%
1990 28,502   151.1%
2000 49,728   74.5%
Est. 2008 72,718   46.2%

As of 2005 the city population was estimated at 64,201. The greater St. George area has a current estimated population of around 160,000. Many of these new residents are retirees who move to the area because of the mild winters. In September 2005, St. George was declared the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States.

As of the 2000 census, there were 49,663 people, 17,367 households, and 13,042 families residing in the city. The population density was 771.2 people per square mile (297.7/km²). There were 21,083 housing units at an average density of 327.4/sq mi (126.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.27% White, 0.24% African-American, 1.64% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.59% Pacific Islander, 2.87% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.72% of the population.

There were 17,367 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.6% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.9% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years old or older. The average household size was 2.81 individuals and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,505, and the median income for a family was $41,788. Males had a median income of $31,106 versus $20,861 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,022. About 7.4% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.

Nuclear contamination

On May 19, 1953, the United States government detonated the 32-kiloton (130 TJ) atomic bomb (nicknamed "Harry") at the Nevada Test Site. The bomb later gained the name "Dirty Harry" because of the tremendous amount of off-site fallout generated by the bomb. Winds carried fallout 135 miles (220 km) to St. George, where residents reported "an oddly metallic sort of taste in the air."

St. George received the brunt of the fallout of above-ground nuclear testing in the Yucca Flats/Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas. Winds routinely carried the fallout of these tests directly through St. George and southern Utah. Marked increases in cancer and other radiation-related illnesses were recorded throughout the mid-1950s and early 1960s.

A 1962 United States Atomic Energy Commission report found that "children living in St. George, Utah may have received doses to the thyroid of radioiodine as high as 120 to 440 rads" (1.2 to 4.4 Gy).

Notable residents

Notable natives

Notable businesses

Popular culture

Some movies that were filmed in St. George:

"For example, a single issue of the weekly newspaper published in St. George, Utah (population 4,562), reports a variety of public-spirited undertakings. The Red Cross is conducting a membership drive. The Business and Professional Women's Club is raising funds to build an additional dormitory for the local junior college by putting on a circus in which the members will be both clowns and animals The Future Farmers of America (whose purpose is "to develop agricultural leadership, cooperation, and citizenship through individual and group leadership") are holding a father-son banquet. A local business firm has given an encyclopedia to the school district. The Chamber of Commerce is discussing the feasibility of building an all-weather road between two nearby towns. Skywatch volunteers are being signed up. A local church has collected $1,393.11 in pennies for a children's hospital 350 miles away. The County Farm Bureau is flying one of its members to Washington, 2,000 miles away, to participate in discussions of farm policy. Meetings of the Parent Teachers Associations are being held in the schools. "As a responsible citizen of our community", the notice says, "you belong,in the PTA"(...).


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