Hurricane had its humble beginning in the year 1906 with the coming of eleven families to establish their homes. These first settlers were the families of T. Maurice Hinton, Ira E. Bradshaw, Anthony Jepson, Thomas Isom, Bernard Hinton, Erastus Lee, Jacob Workman, Amos Workman, Nephi Workman, and Frank Ashton. However, the story of our city cannot be told without looking back to Palmyra, New York, where a new church was organized on April 6, 1830. These people (our forebearers) became known as Mormons. Because of “peculiar” beliefs and a new book of scripture brought forth and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, they were severely persecuted and mobbed. Being driven from state to state they finally ended up in Nauvoo, Illinois, their last stronghold in the United States at that time.
On June 27, 1844, a mob with blackened faces killed the Prophet. Hatred and malice steadily increased and by February, 1846, it was evident our people must flee again. Brigham Young, an apostle, now became the leader and gave orders for a mass exodus to begin. On solid ice the first wagons rolled across the Mississippi River toward an unknown land in the Rocky Mountains. Without shelter and being exposed to the bitter weather, many people died while others suffered greatly.
Brigham Young, with the first company of exiles, entered the Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The next twenty years saw numerous covered wagon trains and hand-cart companies crossing the plains of mid-America. Many converts came from Europe to join the exodus. From 1846 to 1866 nearly 80,000 made the trek to Utah, and over 6,000 others were buried along the 1,300 mile trail.
Being so far from civilization the new Mormon empire must now become self-sufficient. Exploration parties were sent far and wide to find suitable places to colonize. This area became known as Utah’s Dixie because of its semi-tropical climate. During the Civil War cotton was desperately needed so the church leaders called families to come south to settle and raise cotton and other crops which could best be grown in this warm climate. With the coming of the railroad and establishment of peace with the U.S. Government, the need for the cotton industry gradually subsided.
The Virgin River Basin was now left with many little towns struggling for survival. Malaria fever, isolation and a turbulent, unconquerable river contributed to the extreme hardships. Large families and lack of land prompted the faint hearted to move elsewhere.
Our town was the last pioneer settlement of this area. Up to this time, the arid land, without water for irrigation, had little value. The conception and building of the Hurricane Canal is the real story of Hurricane. Bringing water from the deep Virgin River Gorge to the Hurricane Bench, through a canal, was dreamed about for many years. Most thought it impossible. There were some, however, with the necessary faith and tenacity to believe it could be done, who set out to fulfill their dreams. With handtools and dynamite our pioneers labored for twelve long years carving the 12-mile channel that would give life-blood to the valley. The canal, stretching hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, passing through ten tunnels of solid rock and over five trestled flumes, looms on the south side of the Virgin River Gorge. It is literally etched into a mountainside of pervious material. Only God and man’s constant vigil has sustained it there.
Our town was incorprated in 1912. Thanks be to God for these stalwart, dedicated, hard-working and religious people – the pioneers of Hurricane.
This is S.U.P. Marker #23-C, see other S.U.P. Markers here.
This historic marker is located in Hurricane Valley Pioneer Heritage Park in Hurricane, Utah.