Red rocks, a waterfall, the desert sun and more than 5,000 people greeted President Gordon B. Hinckley as he traveled to St. George Oct. 9 to dedicate a monument honoring the pioneers who first settled here.
"What a wonderful thing you've done here," President Hinckley told the crowd that gathered in the 80-degree sun. "It is good to memorialize the past."The $400,000 Encampment Mall Monument is located on a seven-acre-plot of land situated between buildings on the campus of Dixie College. It was on this site that the first settlers set up camp in December 1861.
The monument consists of three major segments and is framed by a 5-foot sandstone wall with water weeping out over the red rocks into a common pool.
The center segment includes a 7-foot high 6-foot wide wall where the names of more than 900 people who helped settle the area during the eight-year period from 1861 to 1869 are imprinted in bronze. The bronze plaques are set in red rocks.
Segments of the monument on either side of the sandstone wall, called the mall, include bronze sculptures in settings portraying the pioneer ideals of education and work.
"There is nothing that looks as beautiful in Dixie as moving water," said President Hinckley, referring to the meandering stream that ties the segments of the monument together.
"On the ride over here, we rode in an air-conditioned car. Today, we go to school in air-conditioned comfort," he said, noting that the pioneers knew no such luxuries. "If they were to eat, they had to grow it. If they were to be clothed, they had to grow it. They didn't worry about the scenery. They didn't have time.
"Frankly," he said, referring to the heat, "I don't know how they stood it."
President Hinckley emphasized the importance of remembering those who made sacrifices in the past to improve the lives of those who followed. "We must never forget those whose names are written on the plaque," he said. "May this monument ever speak of them in fond rememberance."
The monument is 180-feet wide by 80-feet deep. The life-size sculptures portraying education and work are set in desert vegetation depicting the landscape of pioneer times. The sculptures were created by nationally recognized artists, L'Deane Trueblood and Jerry Anderson, who live in the St. George area.
The Trueblood sculptures emphasize the importance of education to the early settlers by portraying a school teacher holding a girl on her lap who is reading a book, while off to the side is a boy studying mathematics on a slate board.
The Anderson sculptures depict the industry and hard work needed to claim the area. One sculpture depicts a surveyor with instruments laying out the city, while another shows a man with a shovel diverting water from a nearby spring.
After examining the monument, President Hinckley said he would add, "culture and worship as guiding elements in their lives" to the twin ideals of work and education.
President Hinckley recounted how the first settlers to the area came as missionaries to the Native Americans and to grow cotton for the Church. It took great faith to work in this harsh environment, he said.
But, he continued, they were led by a man of vision, Brigham Young, who said that one day this area would be filled with beautiful buildings. St. George is seeing the fulfillment of that vision, he said.
"May we never forget them. May we be reminded of their honor and excellence."