History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People
The first Spanish explorers
entering the Utah region in 1776 found Gosiute, Paiute, Shoshone, and
Ute Indian tribes living there.
Other Spanish explorers also arrived, but Spain chose not to
settle the area. In 1821,
Mexico gained independence of Spain and took control of Utah.
The first American explorers
entered Utah during the early 1800s.
Bridger was the first white man to reach the Great Salt Lake.
Hundreds of fur-traders created trails through the Wasatch Mountains.
By 1840, many were crossing central Utah on their way to California.
The first permanent settlers
in Utah were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Joseph Smith organized the church in Fayette, New York in 1830.
Members were severely persecuted for their beliefs, and were
forced many times to relocate.
In 1844, Joseph Smith was murdered.
Young, the next president of the church, led a small group into
the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Many others soon followed.
Although Utah is mostly desert,
irrigation allowed the land to be farmed.
In 1848, swarms of grasshoppers entered the valley and began
eating the settler’s crops.
Seagulls from the Great Salt Lake ate many of the grasshoppers
and saved the crops. Today
the seagull is the state bird and there is a
monument built in Salt Lake City
to honor them.
At the end of the Mexican
War in 1848, Utah came under control of the United States.
In 1850, the Utah Territory was created with Brigham Young as
the governor. Indians lived
peacefully with the settlers until 1853 when Ute Chief Walker declared
war. Peace resumed the
following year. Ute Chief
Black Hawk also led attacks against the settlers in 1865.
Many settlers were killed and damages reached almost $1 million.
By 1872, most of the Indians were moved to reservations in eastern
The U.S. government wished
to take control of the Utah Territory away from the Mormons.
Alfred Cumming was sent in 1857 to replace Brigham Young as governor.
In fear of a rebellion, Federal troops accompanied him to Utah.
This action started the Utah War (1857-1858).
Soldiers remained in Utah until the beginning of the Civil War
pony express began
in April 1860. Riders crossed
Utah in their journey to deliver mail from Missouri to California.
In Oct. 1860 the
first transcontinental telegraph line was completed in Salt Lake
City. This encouraged the
pony express to close two days later.
The first U.S. transcontinental
railroad was completed in 1869 at Promontory.
By 1880 the Utah Territory
had enough settlers for statehood, but some Mormon practices were against
federal laws. During the
1880s, about 1,000 Mormons were fined and sent to prison.
In 1985, Utah proposed a new constitution that outlawed polygamy
and prevented control of the state by any church.
Utah became the 45th state on Jan. 4, 1896.
During the early 1900s, railroad
expansion opened new markets for Utah’s industries.
Farmers raised increased numbers of beef cattle and sheep.
Copper production increased in Bingham Canyon with the development
of surface mining. Irrigation
projects on the Strawberry River opened new areas for growing crops.
The smelting industry also increased greatly at this time as
large smelters were built in the Salt Lake Valley.
Great Depression (1929-1939) caused many to lose their jobs and
their land. Utah had one
of the highest percentages of unemployed workers in the nation.
Manufacturing and mining industries increased production as the
United States entered World War II (1941-1945).
Military bases were also established in Utah.
The crew that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, trained
at Utah’s Wendover Army Air Base.
During the 1950s, missile plants were built in Brigham City,
Ogden, and Salt Lake City.
Utah changed from an agricultural
to an industrial state during the 1960s.
Utah’s manufacturing and mining businesses grew.
Uranium and oil fields were discovered and steel production increased.
Many dams were constructed.
The completion of the
Glen Canyon Dam opened Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest
Tourism grew into an important
industry during the late 1960s.
Ski resorts and
national parks in the Wasatch
Mountains began to attract people throughout the nation and around the
world. Cultural attractions
such as the Utah
Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle
Choir also grew in national acclaim.
Environmental concerns arose
during the early 1970s.
Many questioned the safety of storing and testing nerve gas in western
Utah. State leaders established
programs to fight increased air pollution caused by mining and coal
Central Utah Project began in 1967.
This project was designed to increase water to parts of Utah
that had large population and industrial growth.
Utah has become a leader in
research and technology.
Many technological industries including WordPerfect, Novell,
and Corel have employed people in Utah.
Medical research at the
University of Utah
has developed many historic landmarks including the artificial heart.