he revolutionary electric telegraph was not even a quarter-century old. Photography was in its infancy. The first major Union victory of the American Civil War was still a month away. It was January 17, 1862 — the day a barren wasteland converging the Mojave Desert, Colorado Plateau and Great Basin was settled and incorporated as St. George.
Fast forward 160 years. On Jan. 15, 2022, Mayor Michele Randall and members of the City Council will commemorate the city’s birthday by preparing free root beer floats and distributing other goodies at the Social Hall Parlor (47 East 200 North) from noon to 2 p.m.
In addition to refreshments, there will be several other freebies available that day, including:
- Free admission to the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center
- Free admission to the St. George Recreation Center
- Free admission to the St. George Art Museum
- Free rides all day on SunTran buses
- Free rides on the train at Thunder Junction and on the St. George Carousel
“This is a community party and everybody is invited to come celebrate our city’s history and heritage,” Randall said. “In addition to the root beer floats, there are many other free activities you can participate in during the day. We invite everyone to experience what we call ‘The Brighter Side.’”
What promises to be a day filled with fun and fellowship stands in contrast to the country’s status 160 years ago. The United States was a nation divided, nine months into what would be a four-year Civil War. The West was rugged and wild. The transcontinental railroad was still seven years from completion, which meant travel had to be done on horseback or foot through often hostile territory.
The first settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley in mid 1847. Less than 15 years later, Brigham Young sent a group of 309 families south for the purpose of growing cotton and grapes.
As times have progressed, St. George is now the seventh-largest city in Utah with approximately 95,000 residents. Perennially, it is among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the USA.
“We truly admire the sacrifice and struggle of the early settlers of St. George,” Randall added. “The fortitude and faith that they were doing the right thing is an inspiration to me, as well as many others.”
Take a moment during the root beer float social to meet the two new City Council members. Natalie Larsen and Michelle Tanner prevailed in the general election and will begin four-year terms Jan. 3.