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Quaint charm: Stepping back in history by visiting the pioneer homes of St. George

SHARE Quaint charm: Stepping back in history by visiting the pioneer homes of St. George

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Despite the influx of thousands of new residents in the past decade, the city of St. George in the southwest corner of Utah has maintained much of its quaint charm by vigilantly preserving its pioneer heritage.

Several dozen homes and edifices built by the city's early settlers still stand, offering visitors a window to the past.

Modern-day visitors are invited to step back in history for several hours by taking either a walking tour of the homes, or an escorted tour called St. George, LIVE.

The homes and edifices are centrally located in the heart of downtown St. George. In many regards, they are much as the early builders would have known them. Among the edifices is Brigham Young's winter home where he often resided in his later years to escape the cold of Salt Lake City.

To capture the flavor of the era, volunteers dressed in clothing of the period welcome touring visitors and help them relive the history of the area and the events that took place.

The tour begins by meeting Jacob Hamblin, then moves to the Opera House to meet Orson Pratt. Erastus Snow greets visitors at the Tabernacle. At the courthouse visitors are entertained by Judge John Menzies Macfarlane, who conducts a mock trial about the improper use of irrigation water and puts one of the tour members on trial. The tour concludes at the Brigham Young Winter Home where the president greets them before they tour the home.

Among the many pioneer settlements established throughout Utah and neighboring states, St. George is noted for its beautiful red rock bluffs that surround the city, a beauty that belies the nearly intolerable heat suffered by the pioneers.

Since the early 1990s, the desert setting has become an enviable place to reside.

Maps of the walking tours are readily available at hotels and other key areas, as well as the St. George Convention and Visitors Bureau located on St. George Boulevard.

The escorted tours are conducted during the months of June, July and August from Tuesday to Saturday and begin at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Cost is $3 per person. Groups can be scheduled for $2 per person.

E-mail to: shaun@desnews.com