Santa Clara, Utah
Santa Clara, Utah
The town of Santa Clara, Utah is one of the oldest settlements in the county. In 1854 Jacob Hamblin and several Mormon missionaries came down from Fort Harmony to establish a new mission and teach the Paiutes who lived in the area. They built a fort in 1855 and began farming in the area. Several of these earliest settlers brought their families down in the next few years. Several families from the group who had been called back to Utah from San Bernardino stayed in the area also. In May of 1861 the Deseret News mentions that there were producing orchards and vineyards in the area and that cotton had been grown there.
In late 1861 a group of Swiss Saints were sent to establish a colony in Santa Clara. Most of these immigrants did not speak English or have much in worldly goods – many had left their possessions on the trail because there was no room in the handcarts. They were called to go south to farm and grow fruit, grapes, cotton along the Santa Clara River. This river proved hard to tame beginning the first winter that the Swiss arrived when a terrible flood rushed through the settlement and had the old and new settlers clinging to the hillside to escape its fury. After the flood the town site was moved to its present location on higher ground. Although the climate was very different from their native Switzerland the hard-working, long-suffering settlers persevered and wrought a beautiful, productive town.
All but two of the early settlers left the area as did several of the Swiss settlers. A few more families came to the settlement and several of the Swiss settlers passed away. The population stayed pretty constant for over a hundred years and the majority of the residents were descendants of the early Swiss setters. The population in 1970 was just 271. But this has all changed in the last forty years. The town’s population had ballooned to 1630 by 1990 and the city’s population has grown nearly 100% since the 2000 census. Many new residents have joined the old families and live in this peaceful, beautiful town. There is still a family-owned fruit stand along the main street but most of the town’s residents work elsewhere. St. George has expanded its boundaries up to the Santa Clara city limits and what used to be long wagon ride to town (St. George) now takes just minutes. Santa Clara, with its shade tree flanked main street is a wonderful testament to the early pioneers and their determination to endure and carry on.
Swiss Days is the annual Santa Clara community festival. Check here for more information on Swiss Days.