We met our group late this afternoon as we boarded the coach (a new Prevost H3-41, very swish) for the short drive to dinner in a private dining room at the Gardner Student Center on campus at Dixie State College of Utah. While not everyone has arrived yet, there will be 36 Road Scholars on this trip. Our guides for the next ten days are engaging folks: Marc Deshowitz, a retired geologist with Shell, is the instructor; Chrystal Deshowitz, married to Marc, is coordinating the trip (both shown here in an image "borrowed" from Facebook); Geri Bentley will drive the coach -- and is being referred to as "wagon master."
During the introductory program back at the College Inn following dinner, we learned -- first thing -- the "why" of the term Dixie in this part of the world (along with some introductory geology, of course). It seems that when the Mormons established the City of St George in 1861, the Civil War was beginning and cotton was in short supply. One of the intentions was that the Mormon community in Utah be as self supporting as possible. The prophet, Joseph Smith, determined that St George would grow cotton in order to provide fabric for the whole Morman community, there being water in southern Utah and the Mormans knowing how to irrigate efficiently. So, St George became known as Utah's Dixie. After the war ended and the American south began producing cotton again, St George's farmers turned to growning alfalfa, but the name had taken hold.
Further and more recently, two additional factors are keeping the term an appropriate one: St George has the warmest climate in all of Utah, bordering on the Mojave Desert to the south as it does. And, because of the mild climate St George is a fast growing retirement area with golf a favorite activity.