Monday, June 13, 2011
From Encore Park, St. George, Ut
As in most of Utah, the Mormon religion is very prevalent here... some say about 80% of the population. In 1861 the Mormon Prophet, Brigham Young, sent 300 families from the Salt Lake area for the purpose of establishing cotton farming. Mr Young concluded that with the beginning of the Civil War cotton would become very hard to get and he wanted his folks to have access to their own supply of cotton for weaving and making cloth. The area is very hilly and mountainous, but with lots of valleys with fertile soil. And water was available from the Virgin River.
Very little timber was available for building homes, so the early settlers mostly lived in tents and started planting cotton. Because there was very little money and no way to earn any, the Church started construction of a Tabernacle almost immediately, to provide jobs. Workers, all Mormon, were paid in scripts which could be spent at the Church store.
The tabernacle took 13 years to complete, but served as a house of worship and a community gathering place. It was built of stone, hand chipped into bricks of varying surface.
A few years after starting the tabernacle he also determined that a Temple should be built in St. George, the third temple for the Mormon faith. The Temple is considered a most sacred place and only the worthy are allowed to enter. Here marriages are sealed forever and commandments are delivered to the Saints (members).
There is a very interesting Visitor's Center on the grounds of the Temple and we enjoyed a very detail presentation of information about the church.
We also visited the winter home of Brigham Young. The winters in the area are much milder than Salt Lake City, so Brigham Young would spend his winters here.
The house was beautifully maintained and was furnished with many of his personal furnishing.