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Get to Know Washington County's Historic Sites

Your new life in St. George is exciting, packed with gorgeous scenery, delicious restaurants, and endless opportunities for entertainment. Along with its modern golf courses and shopping malls, though, St. George also has a rich history well-documented in museums throughout the area.

You've already read about historic sites to see in St. George itself, but what about the surrounding area? If you need a break in between unpacking boxes at your new house, check out any of these historic sites in St. George or Washington County. You're part of a community with a rich history, so get to know the area by planning a family daytrip to one of these exciting locations.

1. St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site

You won't have to travel far to enjoy this prehistoric museum. Head up to the Johnson Farm to see preserved dinosaur tracks from the Early Jurassic period. You'll also see dinosaur remains, fossilized plants and fish, and traces of invertebrates, along with realistic dinosaur models. Enjoy the feeling of knowing that dinosaurs once roamed the same red rock landscape where you and your family now live!

2. Warner Valley Dinosaur Track Site

If you prefer an outdoor excursion, visit this track site instead of the Johnson Farm. You'll see hundreds of distinguishable dinosaur tracks after a two-mile hike near Fort Pearce (mentioned below). If you choose to take your family on this hike, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, take enough water, and avoid hiking during the hottest parts of the day.

3. Deseret Telegraph and Post Office, Rockville

You'll find this building in the small town of Rockville, just off of I-15. It dates back to 1864 and is one of the earliest structures built by Washington County's white settlers. The house itself was made of the area's distinctive red sandstone, and the nearby building acted as the township's telegraph and post office.

4. Fort Harmony, New Harmony

Brigham Young instructed Mormon settlers to build this Southern Utah fort, and the first timber version was constructed by the John D. Lee party in 1853. The group later moved the fort to a nearby location, where they reconstructed it from adobe in 1855—the first adobe fort of its kind in the West.

This fort played a key role in the colonization of the American Southwest. It sheltered 300 settlers before a 28-day-long rainstorm washed it away a few decades after its construction.

In 2006, archaeologists unearthed the fort's original foundation. Today, you can visit the foundation and even check out a DVD walking tour of the old fort from the nearby New Harmony library.

5. Zion – Mount Carmel Highway

This highway isn't just one site, but an important scenic road whose formation dates back to the 1920s. The highway spans the stretch between Zion National Park and Mount Carmel Junction, and connects a variety of national parks, including Cedar Breaks, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon's North Rim.

If you're in the mood for a scenic drive or want to reach any of these parks, take the long way around by enjoying this historic route instead of traveling down I-15. Make sure to look out for other historic sites along the way, like the East and South Entrance Signs to Zion National Park, which are made of red sandstone and were constructed in the 1940s.

6. Parunuweap Canyon Archeological District, Zion National Park

While you enjoy Zion's other historic sites, don't forget about the Archeological District. This site contains ruins from the Ancient Pueblo People (commonly referred to as the Ancestral Puebloans or the Anasazi) who once lived in this area. Some of the ruins date back as far as 500 CE; the most recent ruins are from 1150 BCE.

7. Fort Pearce, St. George

This fort is an important relic from the Black Hawk War, a little-known piece of Southern Utah's history. Unlike a traditional war, this particular war consisted of a series of raids from Ute and nearby Native American groups on Mormon settlers in the area from 1865 to the early 1870s.

Fort Pearce is one of three remaining structures that Mormon settlers in the area constructed to safeguard their homes, crops, and livestock. Typically, a group of six men on horses would wait near the fort, then one would ride to the closest settlement to warn of an incoming raid.

The building was constructed in 1866, and many of the original stones still stand. Fort Pearce was used as an outpost until the war ended in 1873.

8. Pine Valley Chapel and Tithing Office, Pine Valley

This ward chapel was used by early Mormon settlers as a meetinghouse. In fact, they constructed the building in 1868, which makes it the oldest LDS meetinghouse in continuous use. A Scottish convert, who was also a pioneer and former shipbuilder, designed the church to look like an upside-down ship, a design which makes the building both distinctive and beautiful.

As you enjoy your new life in St. George, make sure to check out some of these exciting historical sites in Washington County. Don't forget to check our blog frequently to learn more great facts about the area!