Washington County, Utah Article

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Washington County, Utah
Washington County Hall of Justice, May 1992
Map of Utah highlighting Washington County
Location in the U.S. state of Utah
Map of the United States highlighting Utah
Utah's location in the U.S.
37°17′N 113°31′W / 37.28°N 113.52°W / 37.28; -113.52
WASHINGTON COUNTY UTAH Latitude and Longitude:

37°17′N 113°31′W / 37.28°N 113.52°W / 37.28; -113.52
Named for George Washington
Seat St. George
Largest citySt. George
 • Total2,430 sq mi (6,294 km2)
 • Land2,426 sq mi (6,283 km2)
 • Water3.6 sq mi (9 km2), 0.1%
Population (est.)
 • ( 2017)165,662 [1]
 • Density68/sq mi (26/km2)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Mountain: UTC−7/ −6
Website www.washco.state.ut.us
Washington County 5th District Courthouse, 2010

Washington County is a county located in the southwestern corner of Utah, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 138,115, [2] making it the fifth-most populous county in Utah. Its county seat and largest city is St. George. [3] The county was created in 1852 and organized in 1856. [4] It was named for the first President of the United States, George Washington.

Washington County experienced the fifth-highest job-growth rate in the United States at one point. [5]

Washington County comprises the St. George, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The earliest settlement was Fort Harmony in 1852. Santa Clara was established in 1854 as a mission to the natives that lived on the Santa Clara River. Hamblin and Pinto were settled along the Los Angeles - Salt Lake Road in 1856, as was Gunlock in 1857.

Next came the settlements established as colonies to grow cotton, before the beginning of the American Civil War. They were located along the Virgin River, in the warmer climate below the Great Basin, that was called Utah's Dixie. The first were Virgin and Washington in 1857. Heberville, Pintura and Toquerville followed in 1858, Grafton, Harrisburg and Pine Valley in 1859. Adventure in 1860, and Duncans Retreat, Northrop, Shonesburg and St. George in 1861. [6]

Fort Harmony, Adventure, Northrup were abandoned and Santa Clara, St. George, Washington, Harrisburg, Heberville, Grafton and Duncans Retreat, were nearly destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862 that followed forty-four days of rainfall in January and February 1862. [7] New Harmony, Springdale and Rockville were founded in 1862 by settlers flooded out of Fort Harmony, Adventure, Northrup and other places in the vicinity. Harrisburg was relocated.

Shoal Creek later called Hebron, was a ranching community established in 1862 in the west of the county. Leeds was settled in 1867, and Silver Reef was a mining town begun in 1875 and abandoned by 1891 due to the collapse in silver prices. [6]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,430 square miles (6,300 km2), of which 2,426 square miles (6,280 km2) is land and 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) (0.1%) is water. [8] The elevation varies from 2,178 to 10,365 feet (3,159 m) in elevation. The lowest point in the state of Utah is located in the Beaver Dam Wash in Washington County, where it (seasonally) flows out of Utah and into Arizona. Washington County is made up of three major geographic areas; the Colorado Plateau in the east-northeast, the Great Basin in the northwest and the Mojave Desert in the south-southwest.

Greater St. George

Most of the population is centered in the middle-south of the county near the border with Arizona (see St. George, Utah). Most national shopping, dining, and hospitality chains are located here, along with several local businesses. The climate of this section of the county is the driest; it only receives nearly 10 inches of rain each year. The terrain is also among the lowest in Washington County, making for a particularly hot and dry climate when compared to the rest of the county. Most homes are located in subdivisions, and an increasingly large urban sprawl exists. In Downtown St. George, several local restaurants and stores call this area home, and despite its extremely compact size, it tends to attract many locals and tourists alike. To combat the sprawl (which threatens many nature reserves and increases congestion), growth and promotion is being projected inward to the central area of the St. George, with many new centrally located developments being planned and constructed. The central valley of the city also contains Dixie State University, the only 4-year college within a 50-mile radius. Dixie High School is also located in the central valley.

Most commercial and industrial lots exist in the eastern portion of the Greater St. George Area in eastern St. George and Washington. Out there, land is generally inexpensive and closer to Interstate 15, making it a more viable option for shopping and dining. Rapidly expanding suburbs also exist there, especially in an area known as Washington Fields. Large irrigated farms have been sold to commercial and residential developers to make way for the anticipated need of more housing and business. Pine View High School is located in Washington, and serves this portion of the area. A second high school is planned to be built in Washington Fields due to the rapid growth.

The western portion of the urban area contains the cities of Santa Clara, Ivins, and Western St. George. While there is still some commercial and few industrial lots, land is considerably more expensive due to the scenic vivid-red cliffs and volcano lava fields, along with the close proximity to Snow Canyon State Park. This has resulted in the construction of many resort-style communities and gated subdivisions such as Entrada, Kayenta, and the Palisades. Abundant luxurious housing often exceeds $1,000,000 in price. However, there still are plentiful neighborhoods and older houses that tend to be more affordable. Snow Canyon High School is located in this area.

The southern portion of the city contains the neighborhoods of Bloomington and Hidden Valley and is also the location of Desert Hills High School. Limitations on development in this area exist due to terrain, and as such, it contains less population than its east and west counterparts. Despite its smaller size, the massive SR-7, also known as Southern Parkway, has been built as a beltway to accommodate future growth in the southeastern portion of St. George and Washington. The partially constructed freeway also connects the city to the all-new St. George Regional Airport, and in the future, will provide a vital connection to the community of Hurricane, which will thereby provide quicker and more efficient access to Zion National Park.

Despite its scenic location among red sandstone, lava fields, and the backdrop of the Pine Valley Mountains, the northern area of St. George is almost entirely undeveloped due to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, which protects a variety of endangered wildlife and unspoiled desert. The only communities in northern St. George are The Ledges and Winchester Hills in the west, and Green Springs, near Washington, in the east. While the community of Winchester Hills has existed for many decades, The Ledges is a newer development met with significant controversy. A few houses in the gate portion feature what many consider to be multimillion-dollar views of Snow Canyon State Park, and because of this, are visible from inside the state park. This has led many to believe that the beauty of Snow Canyon is in jeopardy due to the City of St. George's willingness to sell the land around the park to private companies. In reality, only three houses are visible from inside the canyon, although more visible lots exist to be built upon. On the opposite end of the city is Green Springs, an upscale multimillion-dollar development, which consists of a golf course and many distinct gated and non-gated housing communities.

In the extreme east of the area lies the cities of Hurricane and La Verkin. Because this locale is disconnected from the rest of the area by undeveloped swaths of land, it is still usually considered distinct from urban St. George, however this may change in the future due to anticipated development that will connect these two regions. This area is more farm-based than St. George, but is still enjoying the rapid expansion in commercial, industrial, and residential development like the rest of the region. It is served by Hurricane High School.

Outside the urban area

While the entire county, due to its large size, is considered part of the St. George Metropolitan Area, most land in the county is rural.

In the middle and north of Washington County, sparse population exists. The center-county communities of Central and Pine Valley are popular resort communities and contain many cabins and recreational parks, due to their locations in Dixie National Forest and the Pine Valley Mountains. Veyo and Dammeron Valley, also near the center of the county, are primarily ranching towns, with most houses situated on large plots of land. This central area of Washington County is generally more wet and humid than the rest of the county, due to its high elevation and high precipitation. In Pine Valley, precipitation often exceeds 20 inches per year.

The northern portion of Washington County is semi-arid and dry, albeit less so than in the southern portion. The only incorporated town in this area is Enterprise which has a population of just over 1,700. Enterprise is the home of the only secondary school outside of the Greater St. George Area, Enterprise High School. The town contains a small grocery store and multiple gas stations, but is relatively rural when compared to the bustling urban area of St. George.

Western Washington County is home to Gunlock, also a ranching town, and a small Native American reserve named Shivwits, occupied by the Shivwits Band of Paiutes. This area of the county is also the location of the lowest area of the state, Beaver Dam Wash.

Eastern Washington County is also sparsely populated. However, the towns of Rockville and Springdale are filled with major hotels and resorts, despite their small sizes. This is due to their extreme proximity to Zion National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Springdale in particular contains many kitschy shopping and dining options. Most of the income in these two towns is fueled by tourism alone.

The county includes an area along the Old Spanish Trail called Mountain Meadows. Zion National Park is located in the eastern part of Washington County.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected areas

There are 18 official wilderness areas in Washington County that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Most are entities managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but some are integral parts of the above listed protected areas. Two of these extend into neighboring counties (as indicated below). Many of the BLM wildernesses are not much more than small appendages of Zion Wilderness in Zion National Park.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2017165,662 [9]19.9%
U.S. Decennial Census [10]
1790–1960 [11] 1900–1990 [12]
1990–2000 [13] 2010–2014 [2]

As of the census [14] of 2000, there were 90,354 people, 29,939 households, and 23,442 families residing in the county. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km²). There were 36,478 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.57% White, 0.21% Black or African American, 1.47% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.42% Pacific Islander, 2.24% from other races, and 1.65% from two or more races. 5.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In 2005 89.7% of the population was non-Hispanic whites. African Americans were 0.4% of the population. Native Americans comprised 1.4% of the population. Asians increased to 0.6% of the population. Pacific Islanders made up to 0.5% of the population. 6.6% of the population was Latino.

In 2000 there were 29,939 households out of which 37.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.60% were married couples living together, 8.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.70% were non-families. 17.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.36.

In the county, the population was spread out with 31.20% under the age of 18, 11.60% from 18 to 24, 22.40% from 25 to 44, 17.80% from 45 to 64, and 17.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,212, and the median income for a family was $41,845. Males had a median income of $31,275 versus $20,856 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,873. About 7.70% of families and 11.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.60% of those under age 18 and 4.20% of those age 65 or over.

In 2000, 92.5% of residents were adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 4.1% Catholic; 0.8% Southern Baptist; 0.6% Presbyterian; 0.4% Lutheran; 0.4% Episcopal; 0.2% United Methodist; 0.2% Baptist; 0.2% Assemblies of God; and 0.5% Other. [15]


As of 2015 the largest European self-reported ancestry groups in Washington County, Utah are: [16]

Largest ancestries (2015) Percent
English 28.7%
German 11.5%
Irish 7.4%
Swedish 4.3%
Danish 4.3%
Scottish 3.5%
Italian 3.2%
Dutch 2.5%
Swiss 2.2%
Norwegian 2.0%
French (except Basque) 2.0%
Polish 1.2%
Welsh 1.1%
Scots-Irish 1.0%
Washington County School District Office in St. George, Utah.


In addition to the primary and secondary schools that compose Washington County School District, Washington County is home to Dixie State University in St. George, with a campus extension in Hurricane.



Washington County (UT) cities and towns


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns


Washington County votes solidly Republican, not having voted Democratic since 1944.

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [17]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 68.4% 42,650 16.5% 10,288 15.1% 9,433
2012 82.4% 44,698 15.4% 8,337 2.2% 1,191
2008 74.6% 37,311 21.6% 10,826 3.8% 1,898
2004 81.0% 35,633 17.1% 7,513 2.0% 872
2000 78.5% 25,481 16.8% 5,465 4.7% 1,515
1996 70.5% 17,637 19.3% 4,816 10.3% 2,567
1992 52.7% 11,310 15.7% 3,364 31.7% 6,802
1988 80.3% 13,306 18.4% 3,054 1.2% 205
1984 86.2% 12,049 13.2% 1,846 0.6% 82
1980 83.5% 10,181 13.8% 1,678 2.8% 338
1976 70.6% 5,944 22.5% 1,893 6.9% 577
1972 77.7% 5,176 14.4% 956 8.0% 530
1968 64.5% 3,226 19.5% 975 16.0% 799
1964 58.6% 2,534 41.4% 1,789
1960 68.9% 2,876 31.1% 1,298
1956 78.3% 3,172 21.7% 877
1952 73.2% 2,941 26.8% 1,076
1948 56.1% 2,029 43.7% 1,580 0.2% 8
1944 48.2% 1,575 51.8% 1,694 0.0% 1
1940 44.9% 1,625 55.0% 1,993 0.1% 3
1936 36.2% 1,145 63.4% 2,005 0.4% 14
1932 45.2% 1,378 54.1% 1,648 0.7% 21
1928 66.2% 1,686 33.7% 857 0.2% 4
1924 55.0% 1,181 40.4% 868 4.7% 100
1920 52.8% 1,138 46.8% 1,008 0.5% 10
1916 33.4% 703 66.4% 1,397 0.2% 4
1912 43.6% 712 51.6% 842 4.8% 79
1908 47.6% 740 52.1% 810 0.4% 6
1904 48.4% 718 51.3% 761 0.3% 5
1900 28.9% 409 70.9% 1,003 0.1% 2
1896 12.3% 170 87.7% 1,210

See also


  1. ^ https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/washingtoncountyutah,UT/PST045216
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Utah: Individual County Chronologies". Utah Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "Where-the-Jobs-Are: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance". Finance.yahoo.com. July 23, 2008. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  6. ^ a b CITIES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES in Washington County, Utah from wchsutah.org WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah), accessed December 4, 2015
  7. ^ P. Kyle House, Ancient floods, modern hazards: principles and applications of paleoflood hydrology, Volume 1, American Geophysical Union, 2002, p. 297
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  9. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  10. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  11. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  12. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  13. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  15. ^ " St. George, Utah". City-data.com. Advameg, Inc. Archived from the original on November 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  17. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2018-03-31.

External links