Ten years later, local LDS church leader Erastus snow received a letter on April 15, 1871, from Brigham Young stating it was time to build a temple in the Cotton Mission area of southern Utah.
The temple was to be two stories high with a basement housing a baptismal font. The structure was to be 196 feet long, 142 feet wide and 80 feet high, built of stone and plastered inside and out.
The temple was to be financed from tithing of Latter-day Saints in Beaver and other southern Utah LDS ward congregations to help complete both the LDS tabernacle, then under construction in St. George and the temple, according to historians Doug Alder and Karl Brooks.
Historian Heber Jones of St. George further explains:
Brigham young was getting old. He wanted to see a temple established in the west in his lifetime. His ambitions had been frustrated in Salt Lake City by meddling federal authorities. No significant work had been done on the salt lake temple in seven years.
President young had been in and out of court or jail on several occasions and other charges were pending. He had visited st. George and knew the people were restless and needed something to unify and sustain them when the tabernacle was completed.
It was a difficult mission in Dixie and some wanted to leave. He also knew that some of his most trusted, experienced and loyal followers were here. The place was relatively isolated and would be free from government and gentile interference. Skills, labor and materials were available.
Brigham young wanted his empire to be self sufficient and st. George was a key location for travel, supply and defense.
So on november 5, 1871, st. George area church members voted to sustain the decision to build the temple. Four days later, the groundbreaking ceremony was held.
But the excavation ran into serious water problems. About one fourth of the foundation rested on solid limestone on the north side, but the remainder of the building site was marshy. This problem was solved by draining the ground and transporting volcanic lava rocks from the west black hill near the present day municipal airport. A road had to be built on the west black hill and wagons were needed to bring the black stones to the temple site. It was tedious work to quarry the volcanic rock, transport it to the temple site and drive it into the ground.
Today, remnants of the road and quarry can be visited by taking a short hike beginning near the city park north of the airport.
Meanwhile, the temple was dedicated april 6, 1877. If you are in the area, a visit to this historic and prominent landmark is well worth the trip.