Southern Utah trivia: From hoodoos to pickleball rules

Pickleball-Rules-Southern UT

St. George has recently invested in a growing sport: pickleball. Rules are a mix of badminton and tennis, and uses wooden paddles to hit the ball. (photo: Jud Burkett/The Spectrum)

DealChicken spends a lot of time researching the best deals in the Southern Utah area. So it's no surprise that he's also uncovered some interesting facts along the way. From St. George's own alphabet to pickleball (rules of which combine those of badminton and tennis), see how your local knowledge compares to DealChicken's!

DealChicken wants to know, who added the “ah”? The earliest inhabitants of this part of the state were the Ute, Gosiute, Southern Paiute and Navajo tribes. Utah’s name stems from the Ute language, which means 'people of the mountains'. The next wave of settlers arrived in 1861, when Brigham Young sent over 300 families to the St. George area to establish a cotton-growing community. Today St. George has over 70,000 residents.

Want to try a new sport? St. George has brand-new pickleball courts at the Little Valley Pickleball Complex. Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Congressman Joel Pritchard of Washington state. Wanting to use a badminton court on his property, but lacking the proper equipment, Pritchard created pickleball using wooden paddles and a perforated plastic ball, also known as a wiffle. Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, would often run off with the ball during play—offering up a name for the new game. Pickleball rules are a blend of badminton and tennis regulations, and St. George offers men’s, women’s and mixed leagues.

The St. George area once had its own alphabet—the Deseret. This hybrid of letters and numbers was constructed and used (albeit, infrequently) by Brigham Young in 1854. Young claimed the alphabet was intended to replace the traditional Latin alphabet with an alternative, more phonetically accurate alphabet for the English language. However, the Deseret never really caught on. Some headstones around the area are inscribed with the foreign-looking script.

Bryce Canyon has one of the highest concentrations of hoodoos of any place on earth. Who? Hoodoos. These are geological structures formed by frost weathering and steam erosion. Hoodoos are composed of soft sedimentary rock and are topped by a piece of harder, less easily eroded stone that protects the column from the elements. These hoodoos are the major feature of Bryce Canyon—which is not actually a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheatres along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. 

Cedar City is the home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which debuted its first season in 1962. Festival founder Fred C. Adams visited Cedar City after working in the New York theatre scene for a few years, when he was a new student of the College of Southern Utah (now Southern Utah University) in 1959. Adams saw great potential for a theatre festival in Cedar City after learning that 150,000 tourists visit the area each summer. The Adams Theatre so closely resembles Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London that in 1981, the British Broadcasting Company chose The Adams as the location for filming part of its Shakespeare series. The theatre features three plays each season, most of them from the Bard himself.

And last, but not least, something St. George isn’t happy about. On May 19, 1953, the United States government detonated an atomic bomb at their Nevada Test Site. The bomb later garnered the name "Dirty Harry" because of the horrible amount of off-site fallout that it generated. Winds carried the fallout 135 miles to St. George, where residents reported "an oddly metallic sort of taste in the air." The Howard Hughes motion picture, “The Conqueror”, was being filmed in the area of St. George at the time of the detonation. The fallout was blamed by many for the unusually high percentage of cancer deaths among the cast and crew.

A pro at pickleball and Southern Utah trivia? Check out these Phoenix facts.