Approaching Hildale in the evening from the northwest on Utah State Route 59
Location in Washington County and the U.S. state of Utah
|Became a city||March 20, 1990|
|• Mayor||Donia Jessop|
|• Total||2.9 sq mi (7.6 km2)|
|• Land||2.9 sq mi (7.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||5,049 ft (1,539 m)|
|• Density||1,000/sq mi (380/km2)|
|Time zone||Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|GNIS feature ID||1450387|
Hildale is a twin city to the better-known Colorado City, Arizona, which together straddle the border between Utah and Arizona. Hildale is the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Many adults in the community practice plural marriage. The United Effort Plan, the financial arm of the FLDS, owns most of the property in the city. Since most government officials – including the police force – are FLDS members, some critics have likened the community's atmosphere to that of a prison. At 66.9% English Americans, Hildale is the most ethnically English city in the United States.
Hildale, formerly known as Short Creek Community, was founded in 1913 by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from the Salt Lake City-based The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The Council of Friends membership desired a remote location where they could practice plural marriage, which had been publicly abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On July 26, 1953, Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent troops into the settlement to stop polygamy in what became known as the Short Creek raid. The two-year legal battle that followed became a public relations disaster that damaged Pyle's political career and set a hands-off tone toward the town in Arizona for the next 50 years.
After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups. Those were the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which stayed in Short Creek, and the Apostolic United Brethren which relocated to Bluffdale, Utah. The FLDS Church changed the name to Colorado City and Hildale to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.
On April 6, 2010, law enforcement officials in Mohave County, Arizona and Washington County, Utah served five search warrants seeking records from town officers. The warrants were served on government officials and departments, including Town Manager David Darger as well as Colorado City's fire chief. As a result of the initial warrants, the Hildale-Colorado City Department of Public Safety was shut down, and emergency responders were prohibited from responding to calls without the approval of county officials. Firefighter Glen Jeffs indicated that the warrants referenced "misuse of funds."
On March 20, 2014, a jury hearing the case of Cooke et al v. Colorado City, Town of et al ruled that the towns of Colorado City and Hildale had discriminated against Ronald and Jinjer Cooke because they were not members of the FLDS Church. The Cookes were awarded $5.2 million for "religious discrimination". The Cooke family moved to the Short Creek area in 2008 but were refused access to utilities by the towns of Colorado City and Hildale. As a result of the ruling, Arizona's Attorney General Tom Horne issued a press release stating that he "wants to eradicate discrimination in two polygamous towns" and believes that the court ruling will give him the tools to do it.
On September 14, 2015, at least 12 members of two related families from the community were killed in a flash flood while waiting for a low water crossing to clear at the mouth of Maxwell Canyon in Hildale. A thirteenth person was still missing as of September 16, 2015.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,895 people, 232 households, and 215 families residing in the city. The population density was 644.2 per square mile (248.9/km²). There were 243 housing units at an average density of 82.6 per square mile (31.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.41% White, 0.21% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.63% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.00% of the population.
There were 232 households out of which 76.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 82.3% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 6.9% were non-families. 6.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 8.17 and the average family size was 8.10.
In the city, the population was spread out with 63.6% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 18.4% from 25 to 44, 6.3% from 45 to 64, and 2.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 13 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,679, and the median income for a family was $31,750. Males had a median income of $25,170 versus $16,071 for females. The per capita income for the city was $4,782. About 37.0% of families and 41.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.0% of those under age 18 and 31.8% of those age 65 or over.
The Colorado City/Hildale area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe intellectual disability. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessop and John Yates Barlow. At least half of the double community's inhabitants are descended from one or both men.
Government and infrastructure
In January 2018, the city's first female mayor, Donia Jessop, was sworn in along with a new city council. This also marked the first time positions in city government have been held by people who are not members of the FLDS. About a month afterwards, 11 city employees resigned, at least one of whom said that his religion prevented him from "following a woman, and from serving on a board with apostates."
Students are zoned to:
- Three Falls Elementary School
- Hurricane Intermediate School
- Hurricane Middle School
- Hurricane High School
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