Dixie (Utah)

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The southwestern Utah area is in the Colorado River Basin.

Utah's Dixie is the nickname for an area in Washington County in southwestern Utah. Its climate is milder than the rest of Utah, located as it is at a lower average elevation below the Black Ridge and the Hurricane Cliffs, in the northeastern edge of the Mojave Desert. It was first settled in 1854, as part of Brigham Young's efforts to establish an Indian Mission in the region.[1] The settlers began growing cotton and other temperate cash crops during the 1850s.[2] The largest community in the region, St. George, was founded in 1861,[3] when Brigham Young selected 300 families to settle the area and grow cotton and other crops.[3]:3 The region had become known as Dixie by 1860, in reference to the attempt to grow cotton, and its association with the other cotton agricultural area Dixie in the southeastern United States.

Andrew Larson’s [4] text on the history of the name “Dixie” in Utah states that the first President of the Washington Stake in 1857, was Robert Dockery Covington, a slave overseer and slave owner from North Carolina and Mississippi. Larson states:

Already the settled area of the Virgin Valley was being called Utah’s “Dixie.” The fact that cotton would grow there, as well as tobacco and other semi-tropical plants such as the South produced made it easy for the name to stick. The fact that the settlers at Washington were bona fide Southerners who were steeped in the lore of cotton culture—many of them, at least—clinched the title. Dixie it became, and Dixie it remained. ... The name “Dixie” is one of those distinctive things about this part of Utah ... It is a proud title

— Andrew Larson, I Was Called to “Dixie” (p. 185) [Emphasis in original]

Whatever the real origins of the term, the Cotton Mission didn't work out as well as Young had hoped – yields in the test fields were not as high as expected, and economic viability of growing cotton was never achieved, although a cotton mill was built and used for a few years in the town of Washington.[5]

The main city in the area is St. George with its metropolitan area of about 140,000 residents.[citation needed]

The region, lying in Washington County, has become a retirement and recreational haven due to its pleasant winter climate, many golf courses and red sandstone landscape. In the winter, temperatures rarely stay below freezing during the day. In most years there is very little snowfall. The humidity is extremely low (usually below 25% in the summer), and it receives very little precipitation. Summer temperatures average around 85° F. (30° C.) with the high temperatures exceeding 100° F. (40° C.) for several weeks each summer. The summer temperatures in this region are the hottest in the state. The record high temperature is 117° F. (47° C.) Utah's Dixie is one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States, being located on the edge of the Sunbelt. St. George and its suburbs of Ivins, Santa Clara, and Washington, along with Hurricane, are the largest and fastest-growing cities within the region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bradshaw, Hazel; Jenson, Nellie (1978) [1950]. Under Dixie Sun: a History of Washington County. Daughters of Utah Pioneers Washington County Chapter. p. 23. OCLC 4831960. 
  2. ^ Arrington, Leonard J. (August 1956). "The Mormon Cotton Mission in Southern Utah". Pacific Historical Review 25 (3): 221–238. JSTOR 3637013. 
  3. ^ a b Logue, Larry M. (1988). A Sermon in the Desert: Belief and Behavior in Early St. George, Utah. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 025201474X. OCLC 16709942. 
  4. ^ Larson, Andrew (1992). I Was Called to "Dixie:" The Virgin River Basin: Unique Experiences on Mormon Pioneering. Dixie College Foundation St. George, Utah. p. 185. 
  5. ^ "Washington Cotton Factory". http://wchsutah.org. Washington County Historical Society. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bleak, James Godson; Snow, William J; Reid, H Lorenzo (1928), Annals of the Southern Utah Mission, OCLC 43290460