Human History

Southwestern Utah’s human history dates back thousands of years, with the arrival of migrating peoples moving south through the numerous landscapes of the western hemisphere. Over the millennia there have been numerous native American cultures to inhabit this area and confront the challenges that the landscape and climate placed upon their culture.

The first people in this hemisphere were nomadic Pleistocene hunters who migrated out of the arctic portions of Siberia in pursuit of large game animals upon which their culture was dependent. These first nomads were either followed or evolved into the hunter-gatherer societies of the southwest known as the desert archaic culture who are believed to have became the well-known farmers commonly called the Anasazi and the Fremont. Numerous petroglyphs and pictographs are scattered along many watercourses in the area as testament to their long term residence in the region, and to the success of the addition of farming to a hunt and gather lifestyle.

The nomadic Paiutes made this place their home until European and then Americans began to explore and settle the area. Spanish explorers passed through along the Spanish trail. Then American pioneers and trappers explored, but never settled the area. The Mormon church, in the 1850’s, was the first to settle the Washington County and Saint George area since the Paiutes. As their population grew along with the growing need for water, they expanded into neighboring areas like the Arizona Strip and Hurricane. In the 1870’s, the town of Silver Reef even thrived on silver mining for a brief period. In recent decades, southwest Utah has experienced a large amount of growth, with Saint George having the largest population in this corner of the state.

Link to Silver Reef History page:

Link to Anasazi Page: