Mormon Temple, St. George, Utah

St. George was first settled in 1861 and incorporated in 1862. The town was named after George A. Smith, an early LDS Apostle and was built near the place where the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers meet.

St. George began life as a cotton mission: Brigham Young was worried about the Confederacy locking up all the American supplies of cotton. So he sent a group of Mormon pioneers to the area to see if they could grow sufficient cotton to keep the Mormons of Utah supplied. Those early settlers were able to grow cotton but it never happened in such a way as to be able to compete in the regular markets and the effort was shortly abandoned. However, that first group of chosen pioneers included almost 300 families, selected to ensure the community would have as many farmers, businessmen, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers and educators as they might need. I don't know how much time they put into growing cotton but in 1877, the St. George LDS Temple was dedicated and is now the oldest continually operating Mormon Temple on Earth.

St. George is in that area where the Basin & Range Province and the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts meet, an area with a great diversity of flora and fauna. The local geology is characterized by lots of red rock, sand, bluffs and mountains. It's a stark and beautiful area prone to scorching hot summers and mild, almost snowless winters. It's the location and the climate that began turning St. George into the major retirement destination it has become, starting in the 1980's.

In 2005, St. George was declared the second fastest growing metro area in the United States (right behind Greeley, Colorado). The economy of the St. George area has also been booming since the 1980's.