By Gerald Gygi
The St. George Temple Visitors* Center and Historic Sites welcome the many visitor*s that come to Dixie each year to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and colorful scenery. Visitors are welcome to Visit the St. George Visitor Center, which is open daily from 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM At the Visitor*s Center Annex visitors will learn the remarkable story of the building.
Early in December of 1870 Brigham Young came to St. George to spend the winter. Then on Jan. 31, 1871, he met with local priesthood leaders, presenting to them his plan for building a temple. The settlers gave a resounding approval and under the able leadership of President Erastus Snow, the plans were set in motion. This was an undertaking that would change the course of history in Southern Utah.
Brigham Young directed local church leaders to consider possible sites where the temple might be built. Two hilltop locations were proposed, but the group could not agree on which to recommend. When Brigham Young arrived he "somewhat impatiently chided them, and at the same time asked them to get into their wagons, or whatever else they had, and with him find a location (site)." He had them drive to the lowest part of the valley, a swamp infested with marsh grass and cattails.
But Brother Brigham, protested the men, "this land is boggy. After a storm, and for several months of the year, no one can drive across the land without horses and wagons sinking way down. There is no place to build a foundation." President Young countered, "We will build a foundation."
Later on while plowing and scraping where the foundation was to be, a horse*s leg broke through the ground into a spring of water. The brethren then wanted to move the foundation line twelve feet to the south, so that the spring of water would be on the outside of the Temple.
"Not so," insisted Brigham Young. We will wall it up and leave it here for some future use. But we cannot move the foundation. "This spot was dedicated by the Nephites. They could not build it (the Temple), but we can and will build it for them." (Lion of the Lord, page 237-238)
Groundbreaking occurred November 9, 1871. President George A. Smith dedicated the ground. All present responded with "Amen." Erastus Snow earnestly prayed, "that our beloved President Brigham Young, might live to officiated at the temples dedication." The
Excavation began that very afternoon.
Outlined by the brilliant red hills of Dixie, this beautiful temple stands today. Its pristine, white beauty reflects the sacrifice of a people whose basic belief in God was foremost in their lives. The site proved to be inspired. Standing alone when built, the Temple today is in the center of St. George.