Didn’t Expect To See This In The Desert
A local family found this starfish while out exploring. Were they vacationing in San Diego at the beach? Maybe they found some freshwater starfish only found at Lake Mead?
Nope, it was discovered near Diamond Valley in a small stream bed. That’s right, Diamond Valley, just down from Veyo in Southern Utah. Keeping your eyes open while you hike can lead you to all kinds of treasures as you explore this area.
Matt Ivie, who grew up in the area, said he and his brothers found all kinds of fossils when they were out exploring the rocks near his home. They found all sorts of fossilized sea creatures and now he regularly takes his kids to explore for Southern Utah treasures.
The starfish was fossilized into the sandstone surrounding it and there are hundreds of these in the rocks of this stream bed. Several large boulders contain many fossils visible on the surface. Ivie said he has also seen fossilized fish in the rock that are about the length of a person’s hand.
How do you get starfish in the sandstone surrounding St. George? Well, you have to cover the area with a lot of water. There are signs all over Southern Utah that this was once the case. Wave patterns in the Navajo sandstone can be seen in Snow Canyon State Park and in the red rocks that meander through Washington County. It’s not hard to see how large amounts of water once drained through this area and into the Grand Canyon.
For a more in depth look at Utah’s geology, there are many sites on the internet that describe many of the interesting features. A couple of sites here and here can get you started.
There are many wonders to be found in the red rocks and lava right outside your door here in Southern Utah. Grab some water, lace on your hiking boots and head out to see what you can find.
Carving Out 2 Ton Blocks For The Temple
Quarrying stone and hauling the stone for the St. George Temple was a labor-intensive activity carried out by people who were still carving out an existence in the desert. It’s kind of inspiring to see what they were able to accomplish without cranes and trucks.
In the St. George area, you may have noticed many pioneer era buildings with orange stone. The St. George Tabernacle is one example as well at the Cotton Mill in Washington that is now Star Nursery. What you may not have known is the St. George Temple is also made from these orange sandstone blocks and covered in white plaster.
Looking at the cliffs around town you may guess where the stones came from, and the truth is all the stone on the old buildings come from the same quarry. This site is an easy hike near the top of Bluff Street near the Dixie Red Hills Golf Course.
To get to the entrance, take Diagonal and turn on 700 West in St. George, travel to the end of the street and you’ll see it. It is a moderate 2/3 of a mile hike on a trail that winds by the golf course and into the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. There are some steep parts, but the trail is well cared for and has red blocks that act as stairs through these areas.
As you move along the trail, there are several plaques that give you information about the quarry and how it was used. There are also benches to rest on. At the top you will find the quarry.
Here you can see the tailing piles from the men chipping away at the stone. There are also blocks where you can see where the marks as the men chiseled in to split the massive stones. Some of these blocks were up to 7 tons, so you can imagine the labor involved.
This is an enjoyable hike, great for kids or anyone wanting to understand more about the history of this area.