New book by St. George News author Reuben Wadsworth showcases Washington County’s history

This historic photo shows a group in Zion National Park, Utah, in the late 1920s or early 1930s | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park archives, St. George News

HURRICANE — A companion guide to many of Washington County’s most interesting historical sites is now available in the form of “Red Rock Recollections, Volume 1: Fascinating Stories of Utah’s Dixie.”

Reuben Wadsworth, author of “Red Rock Recollections, Volume 1: Fascinating Stories of Utah’s Dixie,” date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

A compilation of feature stories originally written for St. George News, local historian Reuben Wadsworth presents brief histories about 25 different places located in the Beehive State’s southwestern corner. From the Brigham Young Winter Home to the Hurricane Canal to the Zion Tunnel, the stories take the reader on a rewarding journey that will help them visualize what took place at each site in days past.

“Reuben’s stories allow us to see the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of how our beautiful Southern Utah was settled, and how the dramatic landscapes shape our past and present,” said Julie Saemisch, a Zion National Park Forever Project board member.

Visitors may not find some of the information contained in the book even while visiting the sites it discusses. Wadsworth includes insights about places that even readers who have previously visited the sites might not know.

“I always tell my friends and family when they are coming to visit here to read Reuben Wadsworth’s stories in the St. George News,” said Bobbi Wan-kier, Director of the Silver Reef Museum. “The articles give them a great background of information and pictures to help them understand the history and enjoy their visit to Southern Utah.”

“Red Rock Recollections, Volume 1: Fascinating Stories of Utah’s Dixie” book cover image. | Image courtesy of Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

One historical event Wadsworth looks at is the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the most controversial story included in the book. He historiographically discusses how interpretations of the event have changed over time as attitudes change and new information becomes available.

In his chapter about the history of the Hurricane Canal, Wadsworth’s major focus is on the ditch riders, the men who rode horses the length of the canal in the canyon to check for leaks and other problems to ensure it was flowing properly.

At a time when Zion National Park (the focus of five of the book’s chapters) is experiencing crushing visitation, “Red Rock Recollections” encourages visitors to go and experience other historic and scenic locales in the area. The book is complete with pictures, directions on how to get to these areas from St. George, and QR codes to websites that provide more information about each place.

A middle school English teacher and Dixie State University adjunct history instructor, Wadsworth is a native of Hurricane with strong Southern Utah roots. His maternal grandmother was the first baby born in LaVerkin. His paternal grandfather owned the only movie theater in Hurricane and also served as mayor. His father is one of the three surviving Hurricane Canal “ditch riders.”

Wadsworth holds a Master’s degree in history from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he wrote his thesis on the history of  Zion National Park’s shuttle system. One of the chapters in the book is a summary of that thesis.

Printed and ebook editions of the book are available on Amazon.

Those who enjoy the history of the area and would like to receive regular historical tidbits, links to Wadsworth’s regular Days Series stories and other historical information about the area can follow his author Facebook page.

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