It was back in 1975, while I was in graduate school at U.C. Berkeley, that I took a trip to Salt Lake City for a week of skiing with distant relatives. Everyone I knew who skied, always said Utah has the best powder of any ski resort in the world. They were right, of course, but just to set the record straight, it is VERY cold. The cold keeps the snow light!
Anyway, we got to ski all the famous resorts, Alta, Snowbird, Park City, and a few more I cannot recall. We looked for Bob Redford, but were later told he was either out of town, or skiing on his own private ski resort.
We also got a big dose of Mormonism, including Temple Square, ridiculous liquor laws, and the impact of the Mormon Church on the economy. Fortunately, our friends belonged to a private club, where they stored a stash of booze in their own “private” locker adjacent to the dining room.
But we could not help but notice that people were kinder, more friendly, and respectful of others. With that in mind, I did not realize it became our 45th state in 1896, the same year my grandfather came to the U.S. from Japan. It is the 13th largest state by area.
Salt Lake City is the capital, and the state has more than 3 million people. The state nickname is the Beehive state. About 62% of Utah residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church). It is our only state with a majority population belonging to a single church.
After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, Brigham Young led the first band of Mormons to Utah in 1847. From that point, many Mormons followed and established resident throughout the Utah region. In the early 20th century, both Bryce and Zion National Parks were created, making Utah a popular place for both filming and adventure.
World class skiing is the big draw to Utah. Equally important are the national parks (5), and the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, home to many world land speed records over the years. My Dad knew Mickey Thompson, a Bonneville speed racer, famous for his efforts at Bonneville with FOUR Pontiac engines.
Many immigrants of Japanese ancestry ended up working on the transcontinental railroad, along with Chinese workers. Some stayed after completion of the railroad, and many headed back to California to farm.
Believe it or not, Utah has produced many famous people. Some include: Chrissy Teigen, Loretta Young, Gary Coleman, Roseanne, Julianne Hough, James Woods, Butch Cassidy, Donnie and Marie Osmond, Craig Venter, Ezra Taft Benson, Ted Bundy (yes, that Ted Bundy), J.W. Marriott, Jim Nantz, Picabo Street, and great Niner QB, Steve Young.
So, welcome to Utah. It is a state that will both surprise you, and make you want to come back again and again. So, here I am, again!