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In 1859, Moses Harris, who had previously established a Mormon colony near San Bernardino, moved into the area that was to become Harrisburg and established a town near where Quail Creek flowed into the Virgin River. Several families settled in the town, which had recently been named Harrisville. When the Virgin River flooded Harrisville in 1862, the town's residents relocated further up Quail Creek and renamed the town Harrisburg, after Moses Harris. Many of the buildings were constructed of stone because of the abundance of rocks in the area. Fences that signified the boundaries of homes were also constructed of stone. The school, however, was made of cedar posts that were inserted into the ground. The roof was constructed of cedar logs and cedar bark held together with soil. By 1864, there were 128 people living in Harrisburg. Between 1875 and 1888, the nearby mining town of Silver Reef purchased many agricultural goods from Harrisburg, which created a cash market.

In 1868, Harrisburg's population was 200; however, a year later, a grasshopper plague and a Navajo raiding party caused a few residents to leave. Drought also caused many residents to leave Harrisburg. Most of the residents that left moved to the nearby settlements of Leeds and Silver Reef. By 1892, only six families lived in Harrisburg, and by 1895, Harrisburg was abandoned.

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