ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Signage in Washington County shows Old Highway 91, but soon it will read Old Dixie Highway 91.
“Way back in the 1850s, pioneers were sent here for specific reasons, one of them was pending the Civil War,” says Gil Almquist a Washington County Commissioner.
Almquist proposed the name in a meeting on Tuesday and Old Dixie Highway was unanimously approved.
“I wanted to steer people towards the history that is wholesome and good about what the pioneers did to struggle here, this was purely an agricultural designation because of where we were, the hot climate and obviously being in the south of Utah,” he says.
Almquist says for a century, Old Highway 91 was the main interstate for Southern Utah.
“It has nothing to do with any negative connotation, but rather the way people came in and out of what was then known as the ‘Cotton Mission’ or the ‘Dixie Mission’,” he adds.
Dixie State University is working to remove ‘Dixie’ from its name and is rebranding to Utah Tech University this summer.
“The Dixie name in itself it stands for racism, confederacy, lynching, stuff like that,” says Moesha Spencer, a student at DSU.
But Almquist says he wants everyone to move on from the DSU name change and progress with the new highway name, without it being a political statement.