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Utah is a state of the western United States. It was admitted as the 45th state in 1896. First explored by the Spanish in 1540, the region was settled in 1847 by Mormons led by Brigham Young. Salt Lake City is the capital and the largest city. Population: 2,460,000.

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History

Zion National Park

Spanish Exploration and Possession

Recent anthropological studies have produced evidence that the Utah area was inhabited as early as c.9,000 B.C. Although some of Coronado's men under García López de Cárdenas may have entered S Utah in 1540, the first definite penetration by Europeans did not occur until 1776, when the Spanish missionaries Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez opened the route for the Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe and Utah Lake. By the Treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain, the large area of which Utah was a part was officially recognized as a Spanish possession (it passed to the United States in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo after the Mexican War).

Mountain Men and Wagon Trains

In the 1820s the mountain men, in search of rich beaver streams, made their way over the difficult terrain, thoroughly exploring the region. The discovery of Great Salt Lake is generally credited to James Bridger, but Étienne Provot, Jedediah S. Smith, and others also have claims. The Canadian fur trader Peter Skene Ogden led four expeditions into the Snake River area; he and his explorations are commemorated in the name of one of Utah's leading cities. Between 1824 and 1830 the riches in furs were exhausted, and a decade was to pass before the arrival of the next transients—westward-bound emigrants.

In 1841 the first California-bound group of emigrants, usually called the Bidwell party, left the Oregon Trail and made its way across the Great Salt Lake Desert. Several years later Miles Goodyear became Utah's first settler when he set up a trading post at the site of present-day Ogden, naming it Fort Buenaventura. The ill-fated Donner Party broke trail over the difficult mountains E of Great Salt Lake in 1846 and proceeded in their tragic journey westward across the desert.

Mormon Settlement and Territorial Status

Permanent settlement began in 1847 with the arrival of the first of the hosts of persecuted Mormons, seeking a gathering place for Israel in some undesired and isolated spot. It is said that when Brigham Young, their leader, surmounted the Wasatch Range and looked out over the green Great Salt Lake valley, he knew that the place had been found. On July 24, 1847, now celebrated as Pioneer Day, he entered the valley. Young was to prove himself one of the greatest administrators and leaders in 19th-century America. Under his direction and in communal fashion the ground was plowed and planted, the Temple foundation was laid, and Salt Lake City was platted directly on compass lines.

Gradually the Latter-Day Saints assembled, their ranks swelled by streams of emigrants from the United States and abroad (particularly Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries). More and more of the arid land yielded to their pioneering irrigation. In the next 50 years they not only had to learn the techniques of wresting a living from the desert, of combating frequent invasions of grasshoppers, and confronting the Native Americans, but they also had to face opposition from the federal government. In 1850 a large area, of which the present state was a part, was constituted Utah Territory and Young was appointed governor. The name Deseret [honeybee], chosen by the Mormons, was discarded, but the beehive remains a ubiquitous symbol of Mormon activity throughout Utah.

Friction with Native Americans and the U.S. Government

The Native Americans, dispossessed of their lands and foreseeing further encroachment, became embittered, and the Mormons were threatened by the powerful Ute. The confrontation eventually lead to the Walker War (1853–54) and the Black Hawk War (1865–68). There were also conflicts between the Mormons and the California-bound immigrants, but the real trouble came with the gradual disintegration of relations between the Mormons and the federal government. Numerous petitions for statehood were denied because of the practice of polygamy, publicly avowed by the Mormons in 1852. Friction was increased by the assigning of non-Mormon and often incompetent federal judges to Utah, and clashes between church and federal interpretation of the law became frequent. Stories of Mormon violence toward non-Mormon settlers circulated in the East, and antagonism, much of it based on misunderstanding, grew out of proportion.

In 1857 a state of substantial rebellion was declared by the federal government; Young was removed from his post, and President James Buchanan directed U.S. army troops to proceed against the Mormons. The Mormons prepared for warfare, calling in outlying settlers, and guerrilla bands harassed the westward-bound troop supply trains of Albert S. Johnston. The affair, known as the Utah War or the Mormon campaign, was finally settled peacefully, but great ill feeling had developed, particularly after the massacre at Mountain Meadows. Some settlers who during the disturbances had traveled to land south of the Utah Valley remained to spread colonization there.

This turbulent episode was followed by several difficult decades. Congress passed acts forbidding polygamy in 1862, 1882, and 1887. In the attempt to enforce them, civil liberties were infringed upon and some Mormon church properties were expropriated. In 1890 a church edict advising members to abstain from the practice of polygamy was ratified, and civil rights and church properties were restored.

Statehood and the End of Isolation

Long before Utah became a state in 1896, its area had been reduced to its present size by the creation of the Nevada and Colorado territories in 1861 and the Wyoming Territory in 1868. The influx of settlers included many non-Mormon groups, and cultural and economic isolation was largely ended by the development of mining as well as by the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, which in 1869 joined the Central Pacific Railroad northwest of Ogden, completing the nation's first transcontinental railroad.

Twentieth-Century Developments

Agriculture was long hampered by an 1880 court ruling favoring a concept of water as private property. Not until the Reclamation Act of 1902 was the principle of water as public property restored, reinforced by state legislation in 1903 vesting ownership of water in the state. World War II spurred industrial growth, and the development of hydroelectric power during the 1950s attracted new industries. The federal government, which owns over 60% of Utah's land, has become one of the state's largest employers, at both military and civilian facilities. Computer-software and other high-technology firms have recently given the state a diversified and robust economy.

Trivia

  • Completion of the world's first transcontinental railroad was celebrated at Promontory where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met on May 10, 1869. It is now known as Golden Spike National Historic Site
  • Levan, is "navel" spelled backwards. It is so named because it is in the middle of Utah.
  • Utah is the site of the nations first department store. Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution was established in the late 1800's. It is still in operation today as ZCMI.
  • The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City took 40 years to complete. The Mormon temples in St. George, Manti and Logan Utah were completed before the Salt Lake Temple.
  • Interstate 70 enters the eastern edge of the state, from Grand Junction Colorado, and ends where it intersects Interstate 15, near Cove Fort. This section of Interstate 70 is one of the most deserted stretches of Interstate in the United States.
  • Rainbow Bridge, Nature's abstract sculpture carved of solid sandstone, is the world's largest natural-rock span. It stands 278 feet wide and 309 feet high.
  • The Great Salt Lake covers 2,100 square miles, with an average depth of 13 feet. The deepest point is 34 feet.
  • The average snowfall in the mountains near Salt Lake City is 500 inches.
  • Because of the state's inland location Utah's snow is unusually dry. Earning it the reputation of having the world's greatest powder. 14 Alpine ski resorts operate in Utah.
  • Utah mountain peaks, on average, are the tallest in the country. The average elevation of the tallest peaks in each of Utah's counties is 11,222 ft.-higher than the same average in any other state.
  • Salt Lake City was originally named Great Salt Lake City. Great was dropped from the name in 1868.
  • State symbol: The Beehive symbolizes thrift and industry.
  • State animal: The Rocky Mountain Elk.
  • State fish: The Rainbow Trout.
  • The Uinta mountain range is named after the Ute Indians.
  • The Wasatch mountain range is named after a Ute Indian name meaning "mountain pass" or "low place in a high mountain"
  • The name Utah comes from the Native American Ute tribe and means people of the mountains.
  • During World War II Alta ski center became involved in the war effort when paratroopers from the 10th Mountain Regiment trained on its slopes.
  • Annual precipitation varies from less than five inches in Utah's arid Great Salt Lake Desert to more than 60 inches in the northern mountain ranges.
  • Utah's professional sports teams include the Utah Jazz of the NBA, the Salt Lake Buzz of Triple A baseball, the Utah Grizzlies Hockey club of the International Hockey League and the Utah Starzz of the WNBA.
  • Utah has five national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.
  • Utah has seven national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Natural Bridges, Dinosaur, Rainbow Bridge, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanogos Cave and Hovenweep.
  • Utah has two national recreation areas: Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon.
  • Utah has six national forests: Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-LaSal, Uinta, and Wasatch-Cache.
  • On February 8-24, 2002, Salt Lake City will host the XIX Olympic Winter Games. Along with more than 2,000 athletes from 85 nations, the world will share in the drama and excitement of 75 medal events in 10 different sports.
  • The Escalante River is generally considered to be the last major river to be "discovered" in the contiguous United States.
  • The controversy surrounding the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell is often cited as the beginning of the modern-day environmental movement.
  • Capitol Reef National Park protects The Waterpocket Fold a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust known to geologists as a monocline. The Waterpocket Fold extends from Thousand Lakes Mountain to the Colorado River.
  • Cedar Hills is built upon an alluvial fan or bench, created thousands of years ago when it was a shoreline of Lake Bonneville.
  • Fillmore was Utah's first territorial capitol and was named for U.S. President Millard Fillmore. The statehouse was never completed, but the first wing remains Utah's oldest governmental building and now serves as a state museum.
  • The Heber Valley Railroad's magnificent steam engine and ten passenger railroad cars have been filmed in over 31 motion pictures over the past 20 years.
  • The 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, also known as the Fightin' Fuujins, became the U.S. Air Force's first operational Tactical Fighter Squadron in March 1980. The squadron's nickname, "Fuujin", refers to the Okinawan god of wind.
  • The city of Hurricane lies in line with traffic going to the National Parks and Lake Powell. Average daily traffic on Hurricane's State Street is 7,397 visitors per day, or over 2.7 million visitors a year.
  • Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts located in Ivins is the first charter school in the state of Utah. The name Tuacahn comes from a Mayan word meaning "Canyon of the Gods."
  • Kanab is called "Park Central" because it is located only minutes away from a grand array of three (3) national parks, three (3) national monuments, one (1) national recreation area and two (2) state parks. Two (2) national forests and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness areas also surround Kanab.
  • Kanab is known as Utah's Little Hollywood because of the large number of motion pictures that are filmed in the area.
  • Kaysville became a city on March 15, 1868 the first city to be incorporated in Davis County.
  • La Verkin at the entrance to Zion National Park is a beautiful valley and is called the "Garden Spot of Dixie".
  • Beaver is the birthplace of two very famous individuals of the past, Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television and Butch Cassidy, the notorious western outlaw.
  • Utah is the only state whose capital's name is made of three words. All three words in Salt Lake City have four letters each.
  • Utah was acquired by the United States in 1848 in the treaty ending the Mexico War.
  • Utah has 11,000 miles of fishing streams and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs.
  • The name "Utah" comes from the Native American "Ute" tribe and means people of the mountains.
  • Utah covers 84,900 square miles of land and is ranked 11th largest state in the United States.
  • The federal government owns 65% of the state's land.
  • The Great Salt Lake, which is about 75 miles long and 35 miles wide, covers more than a million acres.
  • The television series "Touched by an Angel" is filmed in Utah.
  • Utah has the highest literacy rate in the nation.
  • The largest public employer in Utah is the Utah State Government.
  • The Navajo Indians were referred to by the Apache as "Yuttahih" meaning "one that is higher up."

External links

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Utah United States UT US