Brigham Young, with hopes of encouraging self-sufficiency within the church, called Mormon pioneers to settle southern Utah, a desolate desert. Though they established a growing community, and soon joined together to build an LDS Temple. The building of the temple served to unite the fledgling community. The temple construction was no easy feat, as the ground for the site chosen by Brigham Young was marshy; thus the Saints had to pack lava rock tightly by pounding it with a lead-filled cannon in order to build a safe enough foundation. Members volunteered one out of 10 days to work; women made drapery and clothing for the men; families donated time, labor, china dishes, and sometimes, even hair (as the stories go). The framing of such an incredible building was a massive undertaking in design and was only possible as members and non-members alike worked together to create a place to worship the Lord.
The first design of the temple steeple was, as Brigham Young described it, “short” and “squatty” However, the temple was almost completed so they chose to keep it. A year later on an October afternoon, after Brigham Young’s death, a huge lightning storm overtook St. George, and lightning caught the steeple on fire. The rain put the fire out, but the steeple was destroyed while the rest of the roof and walls were left perfectly intact. Needless to say, when they rebuilt it they built the steeple taller, possibly hoping to appease Brigham Young. The construction of the whole temple took about 7 years, and it facilitated building of more housing for the influx of workers; economically improved the community through work at sawmills, wood camps, and stone quarries; and equalized the financial situation of everyone. George A. Smith said, “We were united in everything we did in those days. We had no rich, nor poor.”
Brigham Young said about the LDS members in southern Utah, “I will say that we have had a blessed time, such a time as no other people on the earth have enjoyed for many centuries, that we have any knowledge of.” The building of the St. George temple, the trials, the joys, and the sacrifice created a unified foundation on which the rest of St. George’s growth was built upon.