Hurricane is Born

By 1906 ten other families moved in to the valley. They were the Hinton’s, Isom’s, Bradshaw’s, Lee’s, Ashton’s, Jepson’s and four Workman families. They lived in tents, shacks, wagon boxes and dugouts until homes could be built. Education and religion were always important to the new settlers so, during that first winter, school was held in the first permanent home built on the corner of First South and Main street. This was the Ira Bradshaw residence. Jake Workman was hired as the teacher. Church was first held in members homes, but during the Fall of 1908 a new ward building, 40 x 80 was built. Curtains on wires were stretched to segregate eight classrooms. This also became the school house. The following year 15 or 20 additional families moved into town. In 1910 the census reported 336 people living in Hurricane.

One of the early stories of Hurricane included cats. The first family to move to Hurricane was Thomas Hinton and his wife Wilhelmina in March of 1906. They lived in a lumber granary prior to building their house. This building had been built by Thomas Isom. Other stock-holders would come during the week and farm their lands and camp out at night and then on weekends they would return to their families. The men had a lot of problems with mice getting into their supplies so they brought cats to eat the mice. As the men would return home each weekend the cats would visit the Hinton’s for food.

Mrs. Hinton commented concerning these cats, “They swarmed over everything. One night we had 21 at a house party.” The Hinton’s had their meals outside by a shed, as it was too hot inside. If they turned their backs even once, the cats were up on the table in an instance eating the Hinton’s food. One night the usually mild mannered Mr. Hinton, now exasperated, caught one of them and beat it to death with his fist. And if cats weren’t enough, then consider the heat and the flies as an added curse that the pioneers of Hurricane had to endure.

In the book, Hurricane Valley, Alice Stratton tells of the Sheep-shearing Corral operation at Goulds.During the years prior to 1910, many herds of sheep were driven through the area every spring on their way to Modena to be sheared. In February of 1910, local businessmen built a shearing corral just five miles southeast of Hurricane at Goulds Wash. The shearing operation was going so well that by 1913 3,000 sheep were being sheared per day. The operation burned to the ground that year, but was rapidly rebuilt. In 1914, 131,000 sheep were sheared, yielding 1,048,000 pounds of wool. In 1915 the Washington County News reported that 35 shearers were busy at Goulds, and that over 100 teams and wagons had left the last two days loaded with wool headed for the railroad at Lund. (My own father, Marion Stout being one of the teamsters.) In 1914, the State of Utah sent 40 convicts to Southern Utah to build roads. These men built the dug-way up the Hurricane Hill east out of town, greatly improving the road wagons loaded with wool used to come into Hurricane. This wool operation remained in full force during the spring every year for the next 15 years, until it burned to the ground in 1931. At its peak, over a quarter of a million sheep were sheared in one season. It was the largest sheep shearing operation in the entire world, eclipsing a huge operation in France.

In 1908 the first mercantile store was built in Hurricane. To sleep travelers and those involved in thesheep shearing operation, three hotels were built in 1912. They were the Isom, Bradshaw and Reeve hotels. In 1913 the first Doctor, Dr. Wilkinson moved to town. In 1914 the first picture show house was built, with its gas powered projector. 1917 was a magical year for Hurricane. From the book, Hurricane Valley, “Hurricane’s magnificent year 1917″, Alice Stratton recounts the progress of the town.

1917 was the year I turned seven years old, and was a year of endings and beginnings. An end to people having to fill their water barrels from the ditch, and the end of having to light the coal oil lamps each night, and the end of sending ninth graders to st. George to school, and the end of having 8 other school classes scattered in different houses around town.

In January 1917 a water bond election was held in Hurricane. The town folks were getting tired of dipping up ditch water to fill their barrels, and there were ten cisterns scattered just below the canal along the hillside. These were filled from the canal and had their problems too, like having the cisterns covered to keep out varmints. Evan at that, an unwary cow once crashed through into one cistern and saving her life was a might task. Also barrels and cisterns had to be flushed and cleaned real often because of moss and mud. So the people held a $20,000 bond election to buy a second foot of spring water from Toquerville. Eighty-four people voted for it and three against it. A survey crew promptly went to work mapping out the course for the water system. By April, men with picks and shovels began digging trenches. By August, trenches 3 1/2 feet deep for the pipelines were almost complete. Only people somewhere around seven years old could possibly understand what a paradise trenches all through town could be. They were the funnest places on earth. After the diggers had gone home in the evening, the kids swarmed into them, racing, laughing, whooping and hollering until some grown-ups, who didn’t understand fun, noticed the dirt we were knocking back into the ditches. Parents got the word and trench-racing came to an end.

During the time the water system was being installed, another startling thing was happening. The Dixie Power Company’s men were wiring the homes in town for electricity. Loads of wooden water pipes and loads of power poles were being hauled into town daily. The life-style of Hurricane was making a change as power poles were planted up and down the streets. Tall and beautiful is what the people called them. The electric power was turned on in September and the town was illuminated. Lights shown from the windows across town, and the twenty-four street lights were a child’s delight.

To push a button on the wall to turn o the lights was nothing short of magic. But papa said a light-switch was no play thing, and to keep it from wearing out, it should be turned on only once every night. My sisters and I could take turns. The first time it was my turn, it seemed that night would never come. The next day I bragged to my classmates about the brightness of our lights. But my cousin Iantha Campbell outdid me. She said their lights were so bright they had to open the door to let some dark in.

Besides the miracle of spring water and electric lights, other changes were taking place. It was only the year before that Mr. Fox brought his automobile to the Hurricane Peach Day celebration and charged ten cents for a ride from the north end of Main Street to the Flour Mill and back. Many people got their first ride in an automobile that day. A year later there were 18 automobiles in Hurricane. George Campbell repaired wagons and made horseshoes in his blacksmith shop, but automobiles were another thing. With so many of them in town, the time was right for Hurricane’s first garage, which was owned and operated by Walter Stout and Stanley Bradshaw. by December their business was in full swing.

The coming of a water system and electricity made possible one especially wonderful thing. 1917 is the year that Hurricane built its first school building. The town’s people paid one half the cost and the county paid the other half and everyone felt a real pride in this beautiful building. Work began on it in May and it was finished in December. In it were ten classrooms, a gym, a stage, a balcony and restrooms. Oh, restrooms! No one can know the joy of indoor plumbing until they have lived with outdoor plumbing.

In this new school building there were no potbellied stoves. The building was steam heated with silver-colored radiators that hissed and banged in a wonderful way as it warmed the rooms on Winter mornings. A school bell rang thirty minutes before school each morning. Its clear ringing could be heard all across town and people set their clocks by it. It was also used as a fire alarm.

Before this time, school was held in several different buildings, including the two-room brick Relief Society Building; a building owned by Rob Stratton, and in a green-colored wooden church house which was divided into classrooms with curtains drawn on wires. In January 1918, the entire school moved into the new building. The ninth grade had been added the previous September.

The Washington County News reporter stated in a column, (date unavailable) “If you come to Hurricane, you can get a drink of good pure water, as the fountain in our school building is filled with crystal water from the water system.” Believe me, the sparkle of this crystal spring water in a glass was a joy to everyone. When you’ve taken for granted the cloudiness of river water all your life, the beauty of a clear glass of water is a pleasant surprise.

So, in one year’s time, my beloved little town, with it’s 100 families and 800 people, made its greatest transformation. 1917 was really and truly a magnificent, wonderful year.

The Hurricane Latter-day Saints Ward was established soon after the pioneers arrived, and in 1928 was split into the North and South Wards. There it would remain until divided into four wards in 1970. There are now 22 wards in Hurricane. Prior to 1929 the Hurricane wards were in the St. George Stake, but in 1929 the Zion Park Stake was established in Hurricane. In 1999 there are three stakes where there was only one until the 1980′s.

The first bank was built in 1920. During the great depression of the 1930′s, banks were going broke all over the nation. The Hurricane Bank did not suffer the same fate. It was judged one of the three safest banks in the state.

In 1927 the 12th grade was added to the Hurricane school. Grades 9 thru 11 had previously been added a year at a time. In 1936 a new high school was built. The old nine mile long wooden water pipe line from Toquerville that had been installed in 1917 with picks and shovels was replaced with a steel pipe, ending years of broken pipes and water outages. 1939 was the year that the WPA constructed the rock library that now serves as a museum on the original city block set aside by the early pioneers. Previously the library was in one room of Jess Roundy’s shoe shop. Anna Wood took care of it, and when the new one was build in 1939 she was the librarian. In 1985 the county built the present day library. 1n 1944 an airport was built, and in 1949 it was improved with a 3,400 foot runway and a 2,300 foot emergency cross strip. This served the city well until 1993. The unstable soil had caused the runway to settle and become uneven, so soil was removed several feet deep and new materials brought in to build a new airstrip. In 1946 a sewer system was added that served 14 blocks of the town.


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