Utah, state in the western United States, partly in the Rocky Mountains. Its great variety of landscapes includes high wooded mountains, lakes, valley oases, barren salt flats, deserts, and a wild plateau country with strange rock formations and rainbow-colored canyons.
Habitation by nomadic desert peoples of the area that was to become Utah began several thousand years ago. The Anasazi Culture, which established intricately built settlements, reached their peak at about ad 1300. Native American tribes, including the Gosiute, Paiute, and Ute, were present when Spanish explorers made their earliest visits to the region. This area, which was claimed by Mexico, was chosen in 1847 by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, as a refuge from persecution. There they founded a theocratic commonwealth aloof from the rest of the nation and planned on the basis of a group of small self-sufficient agricultural communities. Their isolation was short-lived, however, because Utah became part of the United States in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War. In addition, the Mormon community was on the main route westward to the new gold-rush camps of California. The federal government tried to force the Mormons to conform to its standards and to give up some of their beliefs and practices, especially that of polygyny, a form of polygamy in which men have more than one wife, which was officially abandoned by the Mormons in 1890. Their reluctance to disavow the practice was chiefly responsible for Utah’s late entry, on January 4, 1896, into the Union as the 45th state.
Utah emerged into the mainstream of the nation’s development, but the Mormons’ way of life has continued to set the state apart in many ways.
The name Utah is derived from a Native American word meaning those who dwell high up or mountaintop dwellers. Arriving Europeans mistakenly believed the name referred to the Ute people, later applying the word to the state. The state’s original name was Deseret, from a word in the Book of Mormon that means land of the honey bee. It in turn gave rise to Utah’s nickname, the Beehive State, connoting hard work and industry.
From the time of its early settlement until the mid-20th century, Utah was known primarily for its agricultural and mining industries. By the mid-1990s, however, the state had developed a diversified economy, with a wide range of manufactured products. Tourism has also become a major element of the economy, and increasing numbers of visitors are attracted by the state’s many natural landmarks. Salt Lake City is Utah’s capital and largest city.
Utah ranks 13th in size among the states and has an area of 219,887 sq km (84,899 sq mi), including 7,086 sq km (2,736 sq mi) of inland water. The state has an overall distance from north to south of 555 km (345 mi) and a maximum extent from east to west of 446 km (277 mi). The approximate mean elevation is 1,900 m (6,100 ft).
Utah includes portions of three major natural regions, or physiographic provinces, of the western United States: the Middle Rocky Mountains, the Basin and Range province, and the Colorado Plateau. All three form part of larger physiographic divisions. The Middle Rocky Mountains form part of the Rocky Mountain system, and the Basin and Range province and the Colorado Plateau form part of the Intermontane Plateaus.
The Middle Rocky Mountains, in northeastern Utah, include the Uinta and the Wasatch mountain ranges. The Wasatch Range is noted for its majestic granite peaks, deep canyons carved by valley glaciers, and hundreds of glacial lakes. The older Uinta Mountains, or Uintas, are one of the few major ranges in the Rocky Mountains that extend in an east-to-west direction. Several of the rounded peaks in the range reach elevations of more than 4,000 m (more than 13,000 ft) above sea level. The highest, Kings Peak, is 4,123 m (13,526 ft) above sea level and is the highest peak in Utah. The peaks of the Wasatch Range are lower. The two highest are Mount Timpanogos, 3,581 m (11,750 ft), and Mount Nebo, 3,620 m (11,877 ft). Several other peaks have similar elevations. The western side of the range is often called the Wasatch Front.
The Basin and Range Province, covering approximately the western third of the state, is a region of gray desert plains, shimmering white salt flats, and towering mountains. It constitutes the eastern portion of the so-called Great Basin. Rivers peter out in the Great Salt Lake Desert or drain into Great Salt Lake, a remnant of huge, prehistoric Lake Bonneville. The narrow level strip of land between Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Front, known as the Salt Lake Valley, is the most fertile, productive, and densely populated part of Utah.
The Colorado Plateau is an area of fiery colors and unusual physical variety. The uplifted plateaus, rising in places to heights of more than 3,400 m (more than 11,000 ft), have been carved by rivers and eroded by wind and water over the centuries. The results are hundreds of canyons of great depth that are carved into red, pink, purple, and yellow sandstones and shales. Through these colorful canyons wind the Colorado River and some of its tributaries.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
Most of eastern and southern Utah drains into the Colorado River system and eventually to the Gulf of California, an arm of the Pacific Ocean. The rest of the state, however, lies within a huge internal drainage system that has no outlet to the sea. The Colorado River flows across southeastern Utah, receiving a major tributary, the Green River, when it is nearly midway in its course across the state. Major streams that drain into the Great Basin are the Bear, Weber, Ogden, Jordan, Provo, Spanish Fork, and Sevier rivers. A very small portion of northwestern Utah drains into the Columbia River system by way of the Raft River.
The largest of Utah’s lakes is the famous Great Salt Lake. The largest inland body of salt water in North America, it is the largest remnant of the once extensive Lake Bonneville, which covered much of Utah and Nevada in prehistoric times. The Great Salt Lake is several times more saline than the oceans. It varies in volume and salinity according to the amount of water that it receives from streams flowing out of the Wasatch Range in the east. Other, smaller natural lakes include Utah Lake, which drains into Great Salt Lake by way of the Jordan River. Huge reservoirs rival the natural lakes in size. Among them is Lake Powell, which lies behind Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River and is partly in Arizona.
In the valleys and plateaus of Utah the summers are hot and dry and the winters, also dry, range from mild in the south to cold in the north. In the mountains of northeastern Utah the temperatures throughout the year are lower than elsewhere in the state and precipitation is more abundant.
Temperatures decrease from the south to the north in the state. In the mountains the average temperature drops about 0.5°C (about 1°F) for every about 300 m (about 1,000 ft) rise in elevation. Average July temperatures range from less than 16°C (60°F) in the mountains to more than 27°C (80°F) in a few locations in southern Utah. At Salt Lake City average July temperatures range from a low of 18°C (64°F) to a high of 33°C (92°F). There is a great variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and although daytime highs are often in the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F), summer nights are usually quite cool. Average January temperatures range from more than 2°C (35°F) in southwestern Utah to less than -7°C (20°F) in mountainous northeastern Utah. The average January temperature range at Salt Lake City is from a low of -7°C (19°F) to a high of 2°C (36°F).
In most of Utah the annual precipitation is between about 200 and 400 mm (about 8 and 16 in), but in the Great Salt Lake Desert it is less than 130 mm (5 in) annually. In the highest parts of the mountains the precipitation averages more than 1,000 mm (40 in) per year, mostly in the form of heavy winter snow.
Winter precipitation is mostly in the form of storms that originate over the Pacific Ocean. They bring large amounts of rain and snow to the southern and western slopes of the mountains but leave the leeward slopes and valleys relatively dry. Winter snows are particularly heavy in the Wasatch Mountains where single storms can bring several feet of snow and annual snowfall can reach 9 m (30 ft). Most rain in summer occurs as local thunderstorms, which drop large quantities of rain on small areas, often creating flash floods.
The growing season, or the period between the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall, ranges from less than 90 days in the mountain valleys of northern Utah to more than 200 days in some sections of the state. Throughout most of the state the growing season is between 100 and 180 days long. The last killing frost in spring occurs during June in the mountains and at the end of April in the Great Salt Lake Desert and in the warmer parts of southern Utah. The first killing frost of fall occurs in late August or early September in the Uintas and in mid-October in the northern desert areas and warm southern areas.
Utah’s most productive soils, found in a narrow belt along the base of the Wasatch Range, are chestnut loams, which were formed from alluvial materials washed down from the mountains. Chestnut loams are rich in plant nutrients, but they are highly productive only when irrigated and fertilized.
Sierozem and gray desert soils occur over much of western Utah and in parts of eastern Utah. These soils are also productive when watered and fertilized.
Lithosols, soils that are stony or gravelly, and shallow soils are found in much of central Utah. On the slopes of the major mountain ranges the soils support forests, but on the basin floors the vegetation is sparse and natural soil erosion is extensive. Large sections of eastern Utah are also covered by lithosols.
Forests cover 30 percent of the land area of Utah, but only about one-fifth of the forest is suitable for commercial cutting. The federal government controls about three-quarters of all commercial forestland in the state.
Many of the plants found in the deserts of Arizona also occur in the arid sections of southwestern Utah. Among these plants are the Joshua tree, mesquite, creosote bush, and varieties of cactus.
Small sagebrush and Sandberg bluegrass are the most common plants in the canyon section of the Colorado Plateau. Shad scale and greasewood are the dominant plants where the alkaline soils limit the growth of sagebrush. The Indian paintbrush and the prickly pear add color to the plateau lands.
An open woodland of scrubby conifers grows in the mountains at elevations up to about 2,100 m (about 7,000 ft). The woodland consists of open groves of Utah junipers and Rocky Mountain junipers and of piñons. Quaking aspens are found in scattered groves at about the same elevation. The Gambel oak and mountain mahogany are also common on the lower mountain slopes. The cottonwood grows along the streams, together with box elder, mountain alder, dogwoods, and willows.
Above elevations of about 1,800 m (about 6,000 ft) are commercially valuable pine forests. Ponderosa and lodgepole pines are common, together with the aspen, Douglas fir, and limber pine. In the highest forest zone are the subalpine fir, white fir, and Engelmann spruce. The blue, or Colorado spruce, which is the state tree, is not native to Utah. Growing close to the ground are such shrubs as dwarf maples, chokecherries, sumacs, and Juneberries, commonly known as serviceberries.
Utah’s state flower is the sego lily. Other common wild flowers are the dogtooth violet, lupine, shooting star, false Solomon’s seal, globe mallow, monkshood, and Oregon grape.
Mule deer are the most common large mammals found in Utah. Other large mammals include the elk, pronghorn, moose, bison (American buffalo), black bear, cougar, Rocky Mountain goat, and Rocky Mountain bighorn. Among the smaller mammals are the coyote, bay lynx, Canada lynx, bobcat, gray fox, red fox, kit fox, badger, mink, otter, raccoon, cacomistle, or ringtail, marten, and weasel. Also found are skunks, porcupines, prairie dogs, rabbits, and squirrels.
Reptiles are found in the plateau areas of Utah. Among the snakes are the yellow-belly racers, coachwhip snake, and garter snake and also two poisonous snakes: the sidewinder and western rattlesnake. Other reptiles include the desert tortoise, collared lizard, and horned lizard. The Gila monster, the only poisonous lizard in the United States, can be found in southwestern Utah.
Among the migratory birds that pass through Utah each spring and fall are the whistling swan, Canada goose, snow goose, mallard, pintail, shoveler, canvasback, redhead, and baldpate. Water birds that breed on the islands in Great Salt Lake include the snowy egret, double-crested cormorant, white pelican, green heron, white-faced ibis, and the California gull, which is the state bird.
Game birds include the ring-necked pheasant, California quail, Gambel quail, Hungarian partridge, chukar, mourning dove, sage grouse, and ruffed grouse. The bald eagle and golden eagle are found in mountain areas. Among Utah’s numerous other birds are the robin, house wren, western meadowlark, house finch, and several kinds of woodpeckers, warblers, and swallows.
About 55 species of fish are found in the lakes and streams of Utah. Among the most popular game fish are cutthroat, rainbow, brown, and brook trout, largemouth bass, and white bass.
Utah’s environmental protection programs are administered by the state department of health.
The Ogden-Provo corridor, which includes the Salt Lake City area, suffers the worst air pollution problems in the state. The Provo-Orem region once had the fourth highest level of carbon monoxide in the nation; by the mid-1990s, however, the region no longer had any days that exceeded federal standards. In the Salt Lake City area during winter, atmospheric inversions trap pollutants such as ozone and carbon monoxide near ground level, producing a dense smoglike cover.
Through source reduction and recycling programs, efforts are being made to reduce the volume of trash that is disposed of in landfills. Because of its remote areas, Utah has recently become host of two large landfills handling waste from many states. In 2006 Utah had 14 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people.
Although Utah relies less on groundwater than do many other states, there is concern over groundwater contamination from numerous hazardous waste sites. The sites at Kennecott Copper Mine, Hill Air Force Base, and Tooele Army Depot, as well as other sites, have been identified as posing actual or potential danger to human health and to the environment.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Utah developed and implemented statewide water management and protection programs. Utah has one of the highest water consumption rates per capita in the United States.
Other water concerns in Utah include the water level in the Great Salt Lake. In 1986 and 1987 the lake rose to a record high of 1,284 m (4,212 ft) above sea level. This created severe flooding and the state constructed a system of enormous pumps to transport water from the lake to desert areas to the west. The problem has not occurred since then. Flat, fertile areas with access to water are preferred as winter range for wildlife and agricultural land use. These areas are sought after for urban and recreational development as well. Utah faces a major problem of handling population growth while maintaining agricultural and wilderness lands.
When the first Mormon pioneers arrived at the site of Salt Lake City in 1847, they began work on an irrigation system that would enable them to produce enough crops to survive the following winter. This pattern of self-sufficient agriculture dominated the economy until the beginning of the 20th century. At that time mining, particularly of copper, increased in scale, and with the construction of larger irrigation projects, more commercial crops were raised. Since World War II (1939-1945), when several defense industries were established, manufacturing has grown rapidly in importance. Today, Utah has one of the most diversified economies of the Mountain states. Services, trade, manufacturing, financial enterprises, and governmental activities each supply about an equal share of the state’s gross product.
In 2006, 1,311,000 people held jobs in Utah. The largest share, 36 percent, held jobs in the service industries such as computer support and restaurant work. Another 21 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 16 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those serving in the military; 10 percent in manufacturing; 19 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 8 percent in construction; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services) or forestry; and 0.9 percent in mining.
In 2005, 5 percent of Utah’s workers were unionized. Utah has one of the highest percentages of bilingual residents. This workforce has helped Utah become a center for international trading.
Farmland in Utah is chiefly concentrated in the area west of the Wasatch Front, where soils are fertile and streams and rivers from the mountains provide water. In addition, there are productive farming areas in the river valleys. Nearly three-fifths of the non-federal land in Utah is rangeland used for livestock grazing. This has helped make beef and dairy production very important. In 2004 the sale of livestock and livestock products accounted for 78 percent of the farm income earned in Utah.
The chief crops are hay, wheat, and barley. Hay, including alfalfa, is fed to livestock on the farms where it is grown. Hay is also an important cash crop. Wheat is grown mainly in the northern and northeastern sections of the state on land that is not irrigated. The irrigated farmland in Utah is used mainly to grow a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, especially onions, potatoes, apples, cherries, peaches, dry beans, pears, and apricots. Sales of greenhouse and nursery products are another leading source of farm income in Utah.
Cattle are raised throughout much of the state. The sale of beef cattle and calves and dairying are the chief sources of Utah’s agricultural income. Dairying is especially important in the area around Salt Lake City. Poultry farming is a major farm activity in the areas of northern and central Utah just west of the Wasatch Front. Turkeys are the chief type of poultry raised in Utah. In addition, eggs are an important livestock product in the state. Sheep are raised both for meat and wool in many areas. Mink raising is also important, especially in the north, and Utah produces more mink pelts than any other state.
Copper is the most important mineral by value produced in the state, and Utah is the second leading copper producer in the United States. Almost all the copper is mined at Bingham Canyon, southwest of Salt Lake City, at one of the world’s largest open-pit mines. Enough precious metals are obtained as by-products here to help place Utah as the country’s second largest gold producer.
The expansion of coal production in the Colorado Plateau—and of petroleum in the Uinta Basin and other, smaller fields—has increased the state’s mining revenues. Natural gas, petroleum, and coal extraction in 1997 accounted for about two-fifths of the state’s mining income.
Salt and other minerals are obtained by evaporation along the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Magnesium, stone, sand and gravel, cement, clays, beryllium concentrates, mercury, molybdenum, potash, phosphate rock, silver, lime, and bentonite are also produced in commercial quantities.
Utah’s most important manufacturing activity, in terms of the income it generates, is the production of industrial machinery and equipment. The making of computers and office equipment is by far the leading component of this sector, followed by construction machinery. Of nearly equal size are firms making transportation equipment. The leading employers in this section are companies engaged in construction of rocket propulsion units, aircraft parts, and motor vehicle parts. The chemical industry, principally the manufacture of drugs, ranks third in manufacturing value. The processing of Utah’s agricultural bounty is the next leading industry. Flour mills and dairy and meat-packing plants are found near the major farming districts.
Other industrial endeavors, ranked by the value of their contribution to the state gross product, are instrument manufacturers making such items as surgical tools and electromedical equipment; and primary metal industries, particularly blast furnaces. Copper ore is concentrated and smelted in facilities north of Bingham Canyon, and a large steel mill is situated on the shores of Utah Lake, north of Provo. Also making a sizeable contribution to the economy are firms fabricating metal and companies making paper products.
Most of the factories are located in the area between Brigham City and Provo, with the heaviest concentration near Salt Lake City. Defense industries developed since the late 1950s include the production of solid-fuel propellants for missiles and rockets, jet engines, computer components, and navigational systems. Recently, the Wasatch Front has become a national leader in the production of computer chips, software, graphics, and network technologies.
Of the electricity generated in Utah in 2005, 97 percent came from steam-driven power plants fueled primarily by low-sulfur Utah coal and the rest came from hydroelectric power plants. Most of the electricity is supplied by private utilities.
The major tourist season is summer, with most visitors stopping at Salt Lake City and the national parks, national forests, and state parks in the state. Winter brings sports enthusiasts to the state’s many ski resorts.
Utah had 2,337 km (1,452 mi) of railroad track in 2004. The main railroad is the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Ogden and Salt Lake City are important junctions and transfer points on transcontinental lines.
By 2005 there were 70,124 km (43,573 mi) of public highways in Utah, including 1,513 km (940 mi) of national interstate highways. Two interstate bus lines provide service, and an interurban bus line connects Salt Lake City and Ogden.
By 2007 Utah had 7 airports, many of which were private. The principal airport is in Salt Lake City. Several major airlines serve the state.
Utah’s major commercial centers are located in the populated area centered on Salt Lake City and stretching from Ogden on the north to Provo on the south.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF UTAH|
According to the 2000 national census, Utah ranked 34th among the states, with a total population of 2,233,169. This figure represents an increase of 29.6 percent over the 1990 census figure of 1,722,850.
In 2000 some 88 percent of the total population lived in urban areas. Utah is the sixth most urbanized state in the Union. Yet vast areas of the state are almost uninhabited. Average population density in 2006 was 12 persons per sq km (31 persons per sq mi), with the highest density located along the foot of the Wasatch Range.
At the time of the 2000 federal census whites constituted 89.2 percent of the population, Asians 1.7 percent, Native Americans 1.3 percent, blacks 0.8 percent, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders 0.7 percent. Those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 6.3 percent of the population, and Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 9 percent. Most Asians and blacks lived in metropolitan areas; many of the Native Americans, mostly of the Navajo, Ute, Gosiute, or Shoshone peoples, live on reservation land. The large Uintah and Ouray Reservation lies entirely within Utah, and portions of the Navajo and Ute Mountain reservations extend into the state.
The major cities are situated in Salt Lake Valley. By far the largest is Salt Lake City, with a population (2005 estimate) of 178,097. It serves as the state capital and the religious, financial, industrial, and commercial center of Utah. It is the largest and most important city of a vast region of the interior West. The Salt Lake City-Ogden metropolitan area includes Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, and Weber counties. In 2006 its population was 1.1 million. West Valley City, a residential suburb of Salt Lake City, had 113,300 inhabitants in 2005.
Provo, a commercial and educational center and the seat of Brigham Young University, has a population of 113,984. Situated south of Salt Lake City, it is the largest city in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area, which is coextensive with Utah County. Other large cities are Sandy, with a population of 94,203, Orem, with a population of 90,857, and Ogden, with 78,086 inhabitants. Sandy and Ogden lie near Salt Lake City and are included in the Salt Lake City-Ogden metropolitan area. Sandy is primarily a residential and commercial center. Ogden is a manufacturing city and trade center and ranks as one of the chief railroad centers in the intermontane West. Logan is the chief food-processing and trade center of the Cache Valley in northern Utah and the seat of Utah State University. Its population is 47,660.
Large numbers of predominantly white settlers moved into the area that is now Utah beginning in 1847. This group was composed of Mormon pioneers. From about 1860, non-Mormons began entering the area. The percentage of non-Mormons settling in Utah increased in the 20th century, but Mormons still form about 69 percent of the state’s population. Roman Catholics are the second largest religious group in Utah, followed by Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. There are also a number of Eastern Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish congregations in the state.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
The early Mormon settlers of Utah gave high priority to the development of education. The first school in the region was established at Salt Lake City in 1847, only three months after the arrival of the first settlers. Provisions for the establishment of schools in Mormon settlements were enacted by the legislature three years later. Settlers who opposed the Mormon domination of the public school system established a large number of private schools, the first of which was an Episcopal school founded in 1867 at Salt Lake City. The Mormons also established a private school system. In 1878 the Utah legislature established a permanent school fund supported by taxes and in 1884 provided for the establishment of high schools. The number of private schools gradually declined after 1890, when a territorial system of tax-supported schools was established. Private schools enroll only 3 percent of the state’s children, a rate lower than much of the nation.
Education in Utah is compulsory for children from the ages of 6 to 18. Utah is among the national leaders in the proportion of its population that has completed high school—90.2 in 2006, compared to a national average of 84.1 percent. In the 2002–2003 school year Utah spent $5,969 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 22.4 students for every teacher (the national norm was 15.9 students).
The first institution of higher education in Utah was the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah, a public school), established at Salt Lake City in 1850. Brigham Young Academy (now Brigham Young University, a private school), in Provo, was established in 1875. Other Utah schools include Westminster College, in Salt Lake City; Weber State University, in Ogden; Utah State University, in Logan; Southern Utah University, in Cedar City; Salt Lake Community College, in Salt Lake City; and Utah Valley State College, in Orem. In 2004–2005 Utah had 13 public and 14 private institutions of higher learning.
The most noted libraries in Utah are in Salt Lake City. The Latter-day Saints’ Church History Library is the foremost private library in the state and the site of the largest collection of materials on Mormons and their religion in the world. The Mormons also maintain the Family History Library. There are 72 public library systems in Utah. Libraries circulate each year an average of 11.7 books for every resident, among the higher rates in the country. The oldest public library is the Salt Lake City Public Library, founded in 1898, and the largest is the Salt Lake County Public Library. Also at Salt Lake City are the Utah State Historical Society library and the state library. The leading university libraries are those at Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Utah State University, all of which house special collections on Mormon and Utah history.
A number of museums in the state also have exhibits pertaining to state and Mormon history, including the Mormon Church-affiliated Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City and the Pioneer Village Museum in Farmington. The University of Utah has museums of fine arts and natural history. Other museums in Utah include the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park in Vernal, the Children’s Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City, and the Fairview Museum of History and Art in Fairview.
Utah’s first newspaper was the Deseret News, established at Salt Lake City in 1850. The Salt Lake Tribune, founded at Salt Lake City in 1871, is the leading newspaper in terms of circulation. In 2002 there were 7 daily newspapers. The most widely circulated are the Tribune, the Deseret News, the Ogden Standard-Examiner, and the Provo Daily Herald.
In 2002 Utah had 29 AM and 40 FM radio stations and 8 television stations. The state’s first radio station, KZN in Salt Lake City, began broadcasting in 1922. KTVT in Salt Lake City, Utah’s first commercial television station, began operation in 1948.
|E||Music and Theater|
Interest in the musical and dramatic arts was fostered by the early Mormon leaders in Utah, and talented Mormons were often called upon to serve the community as musicians and actors. The Salt Lake Theater, opened in 1862, was the center of professional entertainment in Utah for more than 50 years. It was eventually torn down and smaller theaters and theater groups grew across the state, including the Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre and the Salt Lake Acting Company. The Sundance Film Festival is an internationally recognized celebration of independent motion pictures, held annually in Park City and nearby locations.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was organized in the 1850s. The choir is frequently accompanied by the huge organ installed in the Tabernacle in 1867. The choir, with about 350 voices, is now known to audiences in the United States and abroad through its radio broadcasts, personal appearances, and recordings. Another outstanding musical group is the Utah Symphony. Dramatic activities are concentrated in the theaters of the state’s colleges and universities.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Utah’s great variety of beautiful scenery is one of the state’s outstanding tourist attractions. Rugged areas of colorful mesas, cliffs, and mountain peaks provide tourists and residents with excellent opportunities for hiking, camping, and riding. In the Wasatch Range and Uinta Mountains are many winter sports areas. A favorite activity for the more adventurous is boating on the Colorado and Green rivers.
The National Park Service administers a large number of units in Utah. The national parks in Utah preserve several areas of great natural beauty. In Bryce Canyon National Park, in southern Utah, are some of the world’s most colorful and unusual rock spires, pinnacles, and domes. Canyonlands National Park, in southeastern Utah, covers a rugged area of high mesas and towering rock pinnacles. Zion National Park, in the southwestern part of the state, is noted for its canyons and mesas. Arches National Park lies in a region of red sandstone that has been weathered into natural bridges, arches, and other spectacular rock shapes. Capitol Reef National Park covers other areas of brilliantly colored sandstone formations.
Cedar Breaks National Monument has a spectacular amphitheater formed in bright pink cliffs. Three huge natural sandstone bridges formed by erosion are included in Natural Bridges National Monument. The largest-known natural bridge in the world is in Rainbow Bridge National Monument. A number of limestone caves on the side of Mount Timpanogos are preserved in Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Within Hovenweep National Monument are pre-Columbian Native American towers, pueblos, and cliff dwellings. Dinosaur National Monument is the site of a quarry containing numerous fossils. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, one of the nation’s newest protected areas, is an area of scenic canyons, cliffs and rock formations.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in southern Utah and northern Arizona, and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, in northeastern Utah and southeastern Wyoming, are popular recreation areas that have facilities for swimming, boating, and camping. In northern Utah is the Golden Spike National Historic Site, commemorating the completion in 1869 of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.
There are eight national forests in the state, encompassing nearly 3.3 million hectares (8.1 million acres). They offer facilities for hiking, riding, camping, hunting, and other recreational activities. The largest forest, Dixie National Forest, covers a section of rugged country in the southwest. In the northeastern corner is Ashley National Forest. Within the forest is the beautiful Red Gorge of the Green River and the Flaming Gorge Dam. Fishlake National Forest, which is principally in south central Utah, is divided into four sections. It includes Fish Lake, which is popular for trout fishing. Other national forests include Manti-La Sal, Sawtooth, Caribou, Wasatch-Cache, and Uinta national forests.
Utah has 45 diverse and beautiful state parks. Dead Horse Point State Park, in the eastern part of the state, affords spectacular scenic views of canyons, buttes, mesas, and colorful cliffs. Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument in Indian Creek Canyon, is known for its pictographs, prehistoric drawings by Native Americans. Located along the west bank of the Green River is Green River State Park; in the scenic southwestern corner of the state is Dixie State Park.
This Is the Place State Park, near Salt Lake City, includes a huge granite and bronze monument commemorating the arrival of the Mormons in Utah. Territorial Statehouse State Park, in Fillmore, includes Utah’s first capitol building, which dates from 1855. Anasazi State Park, in south central Utah, contains replica Anasazi dwellings and has a museum of artifacts from a nearby ancient Native American village. Bear Lake, Willard Bay, Rockport Lake, and Scofield Lake state parks have facilities for picnicking and water sports.
|D||Other Places to Visit|
There are many places to visit in and near Salt Lake City, including Temple Square, which contains the Mormon Temple and the Tabernacle, and Beehive House, built in 1855 as the home of Mormon President Brigham Young. Many motor vehicle speed records have been set on the Bonneville Salt Flats, a level area near the Nevada border in the Great Salt Lake Desert.
Other scenic places of interest in Utah include Goblin Valley, which lies 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Green River. The area is named for its hundreds of fantastically shaped rock formations, which are situated in a valley surrounded by rugged cliffs. In the Panguitch area of southwest Utah is a scenic drive that borders a vast wilderness of forests, canyons, and rock outcrops.
|E||Sports and Recreation|
Utah’s national forests and parks, mountains, lakes, and rivers offer ample opportunities for camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and winter sports. Utah has several ski resort areas, including Sundance Ski Area, in Provo; Alta Ski Area, in Alta; Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, in Snowbird; and Powder Mountain Ski Area, in Eden. The Utah Jazz, a team in the National Basketball Association, plays its home games at the Delta Center arena in Salt Lake City.
Many winter sports venues are located near Salt Lake City, and in 1995 the city won its bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The games have led to the renovation or construction of numerous sports facilities in the region.
Pioneer Day, July 24, commemorates the first permanent settlement of Utah on July 24, 1847, by Brigham Young and his Mormon pioneers. Each year the week of July 24 is set aside for Pioneer Days celebrations. Many communities celebrate the week with rodeos, pageants, parades, and other events. Among the largest celebrations are Days of ‘47 at Salt Lake City and Pioneer Days at Ogden. The Paiute Pow Wow is held in the second week of June. The annual Arts Festival is held in Tooele, also in June, attracting artists and craftspeople from around the West. The Mormon Miracle Pageant, at Manti, is held in July. The Western Stampede, one of the West’s liveliest rodeos, is held in West Jordan in early July. Also held in July is the Festival of the American West at Logan. Each summer, a Shakespearean festival is held at Southern Utah State College. The Utah State Fair is held each September at Salt Lake City. America’s Opening, held each November in Park City, features ski racing and exhibitions.
Utah’s constitution became effective in 1896, at the time of statehood. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by two-thirds of the membership of each house or by a constitutional convention. To be adopted, proposed amendments must be approved by a majority of the voters in a general election.
The governor, the state’s chief executive officer, is elected for a four-year term. The governor is responsible for the preparation of the state budget and for appointing some of the state’s major administrative officials, although such appointments are generally subject to confirmation by the state senate. The governor also must approve various major appointments made by departmental directors, boards, or commissions. The governor may veto legislation or individual items of appropriations measures passed by the state legislature. The legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses. Other elected officials in the executive branch of the state government are the lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor. All are elected for four-year terms.
The state legislature of Utah consists of a 29-member Senate and a 75-member House of Representatives. Senators are elected for four-year terms and representatives for two-year terms. Regular sessions of the legislature are convened on the second Monday in January and are limited to 45 calendar days. The governor may call special sessions.
The judicial power of the state is vested in a state supreme court, which consists of five justices elected on nonpartisan ballots for ten-year terms. The chief justice of the supreme court is the justice with the shortest remaining time to serve. The major trial courts in Utah are the district courts, the judges of which are elected on nonpartisan ballots for six-year terms. Courts of lesser jurisdiction include municipal courts, justice-of-the-peace courts, circuit courts, and juvenile courts.
Utah has 29 counties, each of which is governed by a three-member board of elected county commissioners. Other elected county officials include the sheriff, assessor, recorder, treasurer, clerk, attorney, and auditor. There are about 230 incorporated cities and towns in Utah. Most of the cities are governed under the mayor and council or council and manager form of municipal government. Most towns are administered by a town board.
Utah elects two U.S. senators and three members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The state casts five electoral votes.
|A||The First Utahns|
The first inhabitants of Utah were peoples of the Paleolithic period who lived in the region from about 11,000 bc to about 6000 bc. They appeared after North America’s last ice age and hunted large animals for food. They lived in small groups and inhabited caves, rock, brush and wood shelters, often near freshwater springs or near marshlands formed by lakes. By about 5000 bc, prehistoric peoples who gathered plants and seeds to supplement their diet were living in the region. This culture, called the Archaic stage, lasted to about ad 500. The Archaic peoples occupied many of the sites used by the Paleolithic inhabitants. Archaeologists do not know whether the Archaic peoples represented a new group entering the region, whether the Paleolithic inhabitants took on the characteristics ascribed to the Archaic group, or whether both occurred.
Two cultures, the Anasazi and the Fremont, occupied the area from about ad 1 to ad 1300. They planted corn and squash crops and raised animals such as turkeys for food. The Anasazi, also known as the Basket Makers and the Pueblos, lived in the Four Corners area of the Southwest and in the southeast part of Utah. They developed a complex society and apartmentlike dwellings on the mesas (level land on top of what were once plateaus) and under huge overhanging cliffs. At about the same time the Fremont culture appeared to the north and west of the Anasazi. Both cultures disappeared about 1300, but left behind rock art, artifacts, and buildings. No one knows what happened to the Fremont people, but they may have been absorbed by the Ute and Shoshone peoples who migrated into the area in search of food. The Anasazi abandoned their dwellings and moved southeast into New Mexico and Arizona, becoming part of the Zuni and Pueblo groups. Severe droughts and incoming Navajo and Ute may have forced the Anasazi to leave.
The major groups of Native Americans in Utah since 1300 have been the Ute of the Colorado Plateau and central Utah, the Paiute of southwestern Utah, the Gosiute of western Utah, the Shoshone of northern Utah, and the Navajo in southeastern Utah.
|B||Early European Exploration|
In 1540 a detachment under Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, a lieutenant of the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, came close to southern Utah, while exploring the Colorado River. The first known European to enter Utah was Juan Maria Antonio de Rivera, a Spaniard who journeyed northwest from Abiquiu, New Mexico, and reached the Colorado River at present-day Moab in the fall of 1765. Eleven years later, in 1776, an expedition led by two Francisco friars, Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Francisco Velez de Escalante, passed through Utah in an unsuccessful effort to create a route between the Spanish settlements of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Monterey, California. Subsequently, Santa Fe merchants carried on trade with the inhabitants of the Utah region.
During the 1820s fur trappers entered the region from three different directions: from New Mexico came men like Etienne Provost and Anton Robidioux; from Canada came Peter Skene Ogden and his Hudson’s Bay Company brigade; and American trappers, including Jedediah Smith, William Ashley, and James Bridger pushed west from St. Louis, Missouri. In 1824 Bridger and Provost were the first Americans to visit the Great Salt Lake. Smith became the first American to reach California overland when he traveled from the Great Salt Lake to California in 1826 and returned the following year. In 1843 and in the years afterward the famous explorer and future Republican Party nominee for United States president, John Charles Frémont, made valuable maps and scientific reports on the region.
|C||The Coming of the Mormons|
In 1846 the Mormons, who had been persecuted in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois for their religious beliefs, decided to move west into what was then Mexico. In 1847 an advance party of Mormons, under the leadership of Brigham Young, crossed the Wasatch Range. The Mormons were seeking an isolated place to settle away from gentiles, or non-Mormons. Brigham Young had read many reports on possible sites, including Frémont’s report on the Great Basin. Young apparently decided to settle somewhere in the eastern part of the Great Basin, but precisely where is unknown. On July 24, 1847, Young and his party emerged from the Wasatch Range at Emigration Canyon. According to Wilford Woodruff, at the sight of the desolate plains before him, Young announced: “It is enough. This is the right place, drive on.” The Mormons established the first permanent white settlement in Utah at that site, between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range.
Within a matter of weeks the advance party was joined by more than 1,500 new settlers who had traveled westward by wagon train from western Iowa, where the main group of Mormons was camped. The Mormons immediately began planting and irrigating crops and laying out Great Salt Lake City (renamed Salt Lake City in 1868). Life was hard for the Mormon settlers at first, but, by a combination of hard work and good fortune, they survived. One instance of their luck was the so-called miracle of the gulls, the sudden arrival of sea gulls during the spring of 1848. The hungry gulls saved crops threatened by a cricket invasion by eating the crickets.
Despite initial hardships, Mormon pioneers migrated to Utah in large numbers, and by 1850, Mormon communities were beginning to flourish. By then about 10,000 settlers were living in Great Salt Lake City and in other Utah settlements such as Ogden, Bountiful, Provo, and Manti. Settlers continued to arrive in the following decade, either settling in established colonies or, at Young’s direction, establishing new ones. To encourage migration, Young had established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund in 1849. Money from the fund was loaned to immigrants with the understanding that it be returned when they were financially secure. About 6,000 of the newcomers during the 1850s were the remainder of the main body of Mormons previously camped in Iowa. Many others were recent converts, principally from New England, Britain, and Scandinavia. Year after year the Mormons traveled westward along a route that came to be known as the Mormon Trail. The route followed the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers across the Great Plains to South Pass, in Wyoming, and then turned southwest and crossed the Wasatch Range, passing through Echo and Emigration canyons. For the most part the Mormon pioneers traveled by wagon train. In addition, in 1856, Young instituted the cheaper and faster handcart method of transportation for poorer emigrants. Handcarts, two-wheeled carts that could be pushed or pulled, were distributed to the emigrants at Iowa City, who then reduced their belongings to what they could push or pull themselves the approximately 2,100 km (1,300 mi) to Great Salt Lake City. About 3,000 people crossed the plains by this method between 1856 and early 1861, when the “handcart migration” ended.
By 1860 about 40,000 Mormons had settled in colonies in the Utah region. These colonies formed the greater part of a vast arc of Mormon settlement extending from Idaho to San Diego, California. Altogether, more than 350 colonies had been established by the time Young died in 1877.
The Mormons did try to establish good relations with the Native American peoples, but as elsewhere white expansion often led eventually to violence. In the Walker War of 1853 and 1854, the Ute, led by chief Wakara (the whites called him Walker), attacked the Mormons who had taken the best land and were impeding Ute slave trading. About ten Mormon settlers died. After Mormons settled Cache Valley in 1860 and displaced the northwestern Shoshone, the Shoshone began attacking the settlers, who immediately asked United States Colonel Patrick Connor and his federal troops to punish the Shoshone. On January 29, 1863, the troops entered a Shoshone village and killed approximately 250 people, including 90 women and children. Called the Bear River Massacre, Connor’s attack was one of the worst massacres of Native Americans in the history of the Far West. The last notable conflict in Utah was the Black Hawk War, which lasted from 1865 to 1868. Mormon settlers and territorial militia fought a loose alliance of Ute and some Paiute and Navajo who refused to settle on a recently created reservation. In the fighting an estimated 70 whites were killed. Eventually the original Utah inhabitants settled on reservations or were assimilated by the whites (see Native Americans of North America: History).
|D||Early Economic Developments|
The Mormon colonies were generally cooperative and even communal ventures. Under Young’s leadership the Mormons instituted a system of irrigation that laid the basis for subsequent irrigation laws in the West. Typically, Mormon farmers worked together constructing central irrigation ditches to draw off the water from rivers and mountain streams. Then they individually dug smaller trenches from the central trough to their own land. Irrigation water was strictly controlled by church committees, which set hours for the use of irrigation water by individual farmers according to a farmer’s needs. Similarly, land was distributed on a communal basis, with the largest families receiving the most land. Land could be sold, but land speculation was prohibited.
In general, Mormon colonies were successful. By the mid-1850s the Utah countryside, particularly along the base of the Wasatch Range, was dotted with farms. The Mormons raised a variety of irrigated crops, including wheat and fruits and vegetables. The farmers also grazed sheep and other livestock on unirrigated pastureland. Following Young’s policy of making the Mormon colonies as self-sufficient as possible, gristmills, sawmills, tanneries, and carding, spinning, and weaving mills and other small factories were built. In the 1850s the colonies of Cedar City and Parowan were established in southwestern Utah to mine coal and iron, but the enterprises were unsuccessful. Their failure was not crucial, however, for the urgency to attain complete self-sufficiency had been greatly reduced by the California gold rush. Beginning in 1849 Great Salt Lake City became a major resting point for prospectors on their way west to the goldfields. By the time they reached Great Salt Lake City, many miners realized they could not carry what they had brought from the East over the Sierra Nevada. As a result, the Mormons bought much-needed manufactured goods at prices far below those in the East. The miners also provided a good market for surplus Mormon agricultural produce and work animals.
|E||Utah Territory and the Utah War|
When the Mormons first settled in Utah in 1847, the region was part of Mexico. The following year, ownership of the region was transferred to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which formally ended the Mexican War. Eager to preserve the independence of the Mormon colonies, Brigham Young called a convention in Great Salt Lake City in 1849 to draw up a constitution for a new state, to be called Deseret. Deseret, a name taken from the Book of Mormon (one of the sacred scriptures of the Mormons) and meaning “honey bee,” was to include all or part of the areas of eight present-day western states, as well as an outlet to the sea at San Diego, California. The convention also elected a slate of state officials, and Brigham Young was elected governor. However, the Congress of the United States refused to recognize the state of Deseret.
Congress dealt with the Utah issue in the Compromise Measures of 1850, a series of five acts passed by Congress during August and September 1850. The measures dealt chiefly with the question of whether slavery was to be allowed in the regions acquired from Mexico as a result of the Mexican War. The measures also abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia, admitted California as a free state, provided for the return of runaway slaves to their masters, awarded $10 million to Texas in settlement of claims to adjoining territory, and created the territories of New Mexico (now New Mexico and Arizona) and Utah. Considerably smaller than the proposed state of Deseret, Utah Territory included all of present-day Utah, most of Nevada, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. The size of the territory was decreased and finally, in 1868, was reduced to the area of the present state. United States President Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) appointed Brigham Young the first territorial governor and Great Salt Lake City was made the capital. The city remained the territorial capital until Utah became a state in 1896, except for the years 1851 to 1856, when the colony of Fillmore was the capital.
Although non-Mormons were appointed to some territorial offices, the leaders of the Mormon church, headed by Brigham Young, ruled the Utah Territory. Initially the federal government did not intervene, but in 1857, non-Mormon judges returned to Washington with stories of authoritarianism and disregard of federal authority by the Mormon leaders. By that time hostility against the Mormons had dramatically increased because of the Mormon practice of polygyny, a form of polygamy in which a man has more than one wife. Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Mormons, had written about the doctrine of polygyny as early as 1843, but the Mormons had not publicly admitted the practice until 1852.
Responding to the rising outcry against the Mormons, in May 1857, United States President James Buchanan terminated Young’s governorship of the territory. Buchanan also ordered federal troops to Utah to enforce federal authority over the Mormons, which started what was called the Utah War. When news of Buchanan’s action reached Great Salt Lake City in July, Young sent a company of scouts to harass and delay the federal troops, which were moving west from Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas. Young’s scouts did their work well. Burning supply trains, destroying animal feed, and stampeding U.S. Army cattle, they delayed the federal troops long enough to force them to camp for the winter in Wyoming, short of their destination. In southern Utah the tension between the Mormons and the federal government erupted in a tragic act of violence, the Mountain Meadows massacre. In September 1857 a group of 140 settlers traveling from Arkansas to California had been angered when the Mormon communities refused to sell them any food, and had told the Mormons that they hoped the invading U.S. Army would punish them. The travelers, resting at Mountain Meadows, were then attacked by Paiutes who had been encouraged by some Mormons. Local Mormon leaders decided that they could not allow the settlers to reach California and tell federal officials that the Mormons were encouraging attacks on immigrants. They disarmed the Arkansans by pretending to lead them to safety at Cedar City, Utah, and then led them into another ambush, in which 120—all but the small children—were killed.
During the following winter, President Buchanan, eager to avoid further bloodshed and to stem nationwide criticism of the Utah military expedition, changed his tactics. He dispatched Colonel Thomas L. Kane, a friend both of Young and of the Mormons, to Great Salt Lake City to try to negotiate with Young. Kane persuaded Young to relinquish the territory to Alfred Cumming, Buchanan’s appointee, on April 12. When federal troops under Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston passed through Great Salt Lake City in June, they found the city nearly deserted. Most of the 8,000 inhabitants had joined more than 20,000 other Mormons at Provo. Had trouble developed, the Mormons were prepared to burn their settlements and move en masse from the territory and even from the country. The federal troops marched southward from Great Salt Lake City and camped at Camp Floyd, west of Utah Lake. After no fighting occurred, most of the Mormons called an end to The Move, as the encampment at Provo was called, and returned to their land. Federal troops remained at Camp Floyd until shortly after the start of the Civil War in 1861.
|F||The Coming of the Gentiles|
In October 1861 telegraph lines from the East and the West met at Great Salt Lake City, creating the first transcontinental telegraph line. One of the first messages it carried was from Brigham Young to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), promising Utah’s loyalty to the Union in the Civil War. To ensure the continued loyalty of the Mormons, Colonel Patrick Connor led federal troops to Utah from California in 1862. Connor established Camp Douglas (later Fort Douglas) near Great Salt Lake City.
The major importance of the dispatch of federal troops to Utah, however, was economic. Connor urged the development of the mining industry in Utah Territory. The Mormons had built only small-scale mines and then only for nonprecious metals. They feared that major ore strikes would upset their economy and, even more important, would bring many non-Mormons into the region. Connor began promoting the development of mining in Utah in the 1860s. Largely as a result of his initiative, a number of rich ore deposits were discovered in the Utah Territory by the end of the 1860s, including those at Bingham Canyon, Park City, and Alta, as well as in the Tintic mining district.
Despite the discovery of major deposits, mining in Utah remained a relatively minor activity throughout the decade, largely because of poor transportation facilities. This began to change in May 1869, when the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad joined tracks at Promontory, Utah, creating the first transcontinental railroad. During the 1870s and 1880s, branch railroad lines connected major Utah settlements with the transcontinental line and with one another. Also, lines to haul ore were built into the mountains. As transportation facilities improved, the total value of the minerals produced increased greatly.
As the Mormons had feared and as the strongly anti-Mormon Connor had anticipated, the growth of the mining industry brought more gentiles into the Utah Territory. The population of the territory rose to 143,963 by 1880 and to 210,779 in 1890. Although still very much a minority, gentiles became an increasingly wealthy and influential community. They almost completely controlled mining in the territory while Mormons generally contented themselves with keeping the gentiles out of agriculture and merchandising. Gentiles also sought a voice in territorial politics through the Liberal Party, organized by Connor in 1870. The Liberal Party vigorously but unsuccessfully tried to compete against the People’s Party, which was controlled by the Mormons.
|G||Polygyny and Statehood|
Since 1849 Utahns had repeatedly petitioned the U.S. Congress for statehood. Congress consistently refused. At the heart of this refusal to grant statehood was polygyny; in fact, above and beyond withholding statehood, Congress took direct action to abolish the practice of polygyny among the Mormons. In 1862 Congress passed a federal antibigamy law, and in the 1870s and 1880s more laws implemented the earlier act and made the prosecution of polygynists easier. Federal agents descended on Utah searching for “cohabs,” as polygynous Mormons were called. Many cohabs, a group that constituted between 20 and 30 percent of the families in Utah, were fined and sent to jail, especially during the years following the passage of the so-called Edmunds Bill of 1882, which was the most aggressive antipolygyny act. In addition, the church leadership was forced into hiding and about 12,000 Mormons were prohibited from voting under the terms of the Edmunds Bill because they refused to promise not to take more than one wife. Finally, in 1890, the church leadership issued a manifesto advising church members to abstain from polygyny.
Abandoning the polygyny doctrine removed the major obstacle to Utah’s statehood. Prospects for statehood brightened after the dissolution of the People’s Party in 1891. Thereafter, Mormons affiliated themselves with either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. The gentile-dominated Liberal Party was also dissolved two years later.
Following the passage of an enabling act by the U.S. Congress in 1894, a convention met in Salt Lake City in March 1895 to write a constitution for the new state. The enabling act required that the Utah constitution outlaw polygamy; it was the only state constitution to do so. The constitution gave the vote to women. Utah was the fourth state to do so. The constitution was approved by the voters in the fall of 1895, and on January 4, 1896, Utah was officially admitted to the Union as the 45th state. Two days later, Heber M. Wells, who had been elected the previous year, was inaugurated as the state’s first governor.
Even after statehood the polygyny issue did not die immediately. A polygynist, Brigham Roberts, was prevented from taking his seat in the United States House of Representatives after his election in 1898. Reed Smoot, a Mormon leader elected U.S. senator in 1903, also had his right to a seat in the Senate challenged, but he retained his place after a three-year investigation.
|H||Economic Developments in the 20th Century|
Between 1900 and 1930 the population of Utah increased from 276,749 to 507,847. Agriculture continued to lead mining and manufacturing as the source of income for Utahns, and state and federal irrigation projects opened new land to cultivation. Smelting and manufacturing increased sharply between 1900 and 1930, particularly during World War I (1914-1918), and manufacturing surpassed mining as a source of income in the state. The increase in copper mining was the major development in mining. By 1910 the total value of copper produced each year in Utah exceeded that of any other mineral produced in the state. In subsequent decades, copper held its lead. The rapid growth in railroading, mining, and smelting brought non-Mormon immigrants to the state, including people from Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Japan, and Spanish-speaking countries. Mining was especially dangerous in Utah, as in other states, and immigrants did much of the labor. Poor working conditions were common. One of the worst mining accidents occurred at the Winter Quarters mine near Scofield, Utah, in 1900, when an explosion killed 200 miners. An explosion at Castle Gate in 1924 killed 172 workers.
Workers began forming labor unions to improve bad working conditions and low pay. In these industries laborers were mostly immigrants from southern and central Europe, so union activity in Utah was largely a non-Mormon movement. Bad feelings grew between unions and the Mormon church, and the animosity increased in 1914 after the murder of a grocer and his son. Joel Haggelund, a Swedish immigrant better known as Joe Hill, was arrested, charged with the murder, convicted, and sentenced to be executed. His case became widely known around the country because of Hill’s membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labor organization. Although many around the nation felt that Hill had been convicted unfairly because he was a radical union member and an immigrant, he was executed at the state prison on November 15, 1915.
The Great Depression, the hard times that hit the country in the 1930s, was particularly difficult in Utah, especially in the mining industry. Unemployment rose from about 9,000 in 1930 to about 36,000 in 1931 and to about 61,500, or more than one-third of the working force, in 1932. Thereafter the rate declined, but even so the unemployment rate averaged about 10 percent for the period from 1934 to 1940. Many families were dependent on relief payments from the state and federal government, as well as from the Mormon church.
World War II (1939-1945) had a significant impact on Utah. The war helped the state economy recover completely as farm prices rose and manufacturing and mining were expanded in response to wartime demands. Many Utahns left to serve in the armed forces or to work in defense industries, primarily in California. The state also saw a large influx of people from other states. Many were assigned to military installations like Hill Air Force Base and Fort Douglas, worked at supply depots in Ogden, Clearfield, and Tooele, or were treated at Bushnell Military Hospital in Brigham City. Executive Orders 9066 and 9102, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States, instructed the military to transport 70,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent and 42,000 Japanese citizens residing on the West Coast to relocation centers in the interior. Many were interned in Utah at the Topaz War Relocation Camp. In addition, a dozen prisoner-of-war camps held Italian and German prisoners during the war. The federal government also built a large steel plant at Geneva, near Provo. After the war the plant was sold to private industry and its operations were expanded. By 1950 manufacturing had passed agriculture as a source of income in Utah.
Since World War II ended, Utah’s population has grown rapidly. Utah’s growth during the 1960s was the result of natural increase, but in the 1970s and 1980s the population grew as people from other parts of the United States migrated to Utah. The immediate postwar period saw an influx of European Mormons, many from war-devastated Germany; during the 1980s and 1990s, the largest immigrant groups have come from the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and Mexico. Mormons still comprise 72 percent of the state’s population, but Utah’s ethnic and religious diversity has grown.
Utah’s postwar growth was the result of the expansion of defense manufacturing, particularly of guided missiles, and of defense installations such as Hill Air Force Base, the Ogden Defense Depot and the Tooele Army Depot. Utah’s copper-mining industry continued to employ a large number of workers, and an oil boom during the 1950s also helped the state’s economy. Utah’s economy became much more diverse in the 1980s. There were many reasons: greater automation in the mining industry; a decline in the defense industry with the end of the Cold War; the expansion of government; continued growth in higher education; the arrival of computer industries; and an increase in tourism. The construction of Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River and Glen Canyon Dam, which formed Lake Powell on the Colorado River, created two major recreation areas and provided more jobs. Both dams were started in 1956 and completed in 1963.
Most of the postwar industrial expansion occurred along the Wasatch Front. The suburbs of Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo expanded rapidly, transforming once-rural Mormon towns into communities for those who worked in metropolitan centers. In 1980 West Valley City was formed from three suburban areas and immediately became Utah’s second largest city. Salt Lake City underwent extensive rebuilding, including the construction of the Salt Palace, and the Mormon Church Office Building, among many others. Other parts of the state also grew quickly, notably Saint George, which attracted many people who had retired, and Moab, which became a favorite of mountain bikers and tourists. In the 1970s Arab oil-producing countries cut back oil production and stopped oil shipments to the United States, dramatically increasing the price of oil and gasoline. This so-called energy crisis greatly aided the oil fields of the Uintah Basin and the coal fields of Carbon and Emery counties, where the production of coal reached an all-time high.
The national economic recession of the early 1980s profoundly affected Utah. Thousands of mining, manufacturing, and home construction jobs were lost, and by late summer of 1982 the state’s unemployment rate had reached its highest level since 1941. In addition, copper production dropped because of low world copper prices. A slow economic recovery began in 1984, but the mining industry remained depressed and many mines, including Utah’s largest copper mine remained closed for up to two years. The mining industry began to recover in 1987, when world copper prices finally increased. The large Geneva Steel Plant closed early in 1987 but reopened later that year under new ownership. In the 1980s high-tech businesses, such as WordPerfect, Novell, and Unisys made Utah an important center in the computer industry. These businesses continue to employ thousands of Utah workers. Utah’s role in the computer industry became even larger when in 1995 the Micron Company announced plans to construct a huge facility at Lehi. Engineering, architectural, surveying, legal, and financial services employed many more people. In addition, Utah businesses, such as Huntsman Chemical Corporation and Nu Skin International, employed many other Utahns.
Utah’s dramatic growth has created problems. Drug trafficking, gang violence, and crime have increased within the state. In addition, Utah’s extraordinarily high school-age population, nearly 27 percent of the total population, has created such a demand for public education that Utah is both among the nation’s leaders in the percentage of state funds spent on education and among the poorest in expenditures per student. Nevertheless, Utah ranks highly among the states in graduation rate and standardized test scores, evidence that educators and politicians use to demonstrate Utah’s outstanding public school system in spite of the limited funding.
Utah’s higher education system suffers from the same problem. During the 1980s and 1990s Utah’s community college system has greatly expanded, especially with the establishment of Salt Lake Community College and Utah Valley Community College in 1987. Two colleges, Weber State and Southern Utah, were granted university status in 1992. Extensive building programs on all campuses have required a large amount of public money. Large public expenditures for higher education have failed to prevent substantial tuition increases over the last 17 years, making Utah’s public higher-education costs among the highest in the region.
Politically, Utah remains a conservative state. Since the mid-1970s Republicans dominated Utah politics at the state and national level. Recent social and cultural issues centered on moral issues, such as decency on cable television channels, laws governing abortion, and religious influence in secular matters.
Utah has had problems with some civil rights issues. The state has a small nonwhite population, and full civil and social rights were often denied to minority groups in Utah. These groups have made progress more recently. For example, Utah’s two largest native peoples, the Ute and Navajo, have used the courts to recover lost rights and land. In some areas Native Americans have organized politically to secure a larger voice in local and state affairs. In 2000 the U.S. government agreed to return 34,000 hectares (84,000 acres) of oil-rich land to the Ute, the largest return of public lands to Native Americans outside of Alaska in U.S. history.
Blacks have also battled prejudice. In 1978 the Mormon church eliminated one source of tension by allowing blacks to be ordained for the priesthood for the first time. The July 1992 execution of William Andrews, a black who had participated in the killing of three people in 1974, increased racial tension for some time.
Environmental issues have also become very controversial in recent decades, particularly the issue of land that was set aside to become wilderness areas, and to a lesser extent the expansion and designation of national parks. A “Cowboy Caucus” made up of conservative legislators and descendants of the Sagebrush Rebellion, a movement in the late 1970s to reassert state control over national public lands, has pushed what they consider the agenda of rural Utah. They see initiatives by environmental groups, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service as belated efforts by outsiders to interfere with traditional lifestyles and economic activities such as livestock grazing. The designation of a large area of southern Utah as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 was opposed by many rural Utahns.
Other environmental issues have caused debate but have gained more acceptance in the state. Most Utahns support the Central Utah Project, which is designed to divert water from the Colorado Basin to the Wasatch Front, but some people outside the state have criticized the project, calling it too expensive. Another controversy has arisen over the environmental safety of the chemical weapons incinerator that is operated by the United States military near Tooele, southwest of Salt Lake City. The incinerator is the first in the continental United States to burn chemical weapons under the international Chemical Weapons Convention.
Utah also faces a transportation problem that has environmental consequences. The tremendous urban population growth strained the Wasatch Front’s aging interstate highway system and lowered its air quality. Heavy traffic in the narrow canyons leading to Utah’s ski resorts and in areas such as Zion National Park threaten the quality of recreation there. Public support for an efficient transportation system increased after the 2002 Winter Olympic Games were awarded to Salt Lake City in 1995. The federal government joined with the state government and other donors to fund light rail construction, highway expansion, and other transportation improvements before the Olympic Games were held.
The Olympic Games promised other economic benefits for the state, but a scandal over possible bribes paid by members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to obtain the games tarnished the city’s efforts. Charges that Salt Lake organizers provided cash, gifts, and favors to members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and their families during and after the selection process led to new ethics regulations and a complete reorganization of the Salt Lake committee. The IOC underwent a similar shakeup as members were expelled or resigned because of involvement in the bribery scandal.
The history section of this article was contributed by S. George Ellsworth and Allan Kent Powell. The remainder of the article was contributed by George Franklin Hepner.