Growing up, all is knew about Utah was the Great Salt Lake, copper mines, and Mormons. Over the years, having done both business and adventure travel there, I have gained a better appreciation for the state, its people, and its incredible natural beauty. Their national parks are among my very favorites.
So, let’s get the trivia out of the way first. Salt Lake City-all three words have four letters. Utah (our 11th largest state) was acquired by the US in 1848 (in a treaty ending the Mexican War), right around the time of the Gold Rush. Utah has 11,000 miles of fishing streams, and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs. The “Ute” tribe of Native Americans gave the state its name, Utah. Ute means people of the mountains.
The Great Salt Lake is the largest lake west of the Mississippi River. Salt Lake hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. I wish I would have attended. The nearby mountains get over 500 inches of snow annually. And having skied there, it is a winter wonderland for winter sports enthusiasts. The dry snow is lighter than California “concrete”, and changes the effort needed to attack the black diamond runs. Many experts call the snow, “the world’s great powder.” I agree.
The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in Utah at Promontory on May 10, 1869. It turns out many Japanese immigrants, many who later settled to farm in California, worked on both this railroad, as well as others. I am told the weather was so cold, their leather soled shoes would stick to the rails in the early morning!
Utah is also the site of our country’s first department store, Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution, founded in the late 1800s. It (ZCMI) is still in operation today. It was founded by none other than Brigham Young.
Would you believe the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake required 40 years to complete? Speaking of, the Great Salt Lake covers 2,100 square miles, with an average depth of 13 feet. The deepest point is 34 feet. It is both a beautiful as well as haunting spectacle, depending on the season and time of day.
Utah has five national parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonland), and seven national monuments, with six national forests. I love the natural beauty of this state.
Utah is where you can find one of the heaviest organisms on earth. The Trembling Giant, or Pando, in the Fishlake National Forest, is made up of 47,000 genetically identical trees that share a single root system. In addition to being notably massive, it’s also among the oldest organisms on earth—it’s been alive for more than 80,000 years.
I have always wanted to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats, where daredevils often try to break world land speed records. The 30,000 acres are flat and smooth. Every September, Bonneville Speed Week allows racers to break land speed records in various categories. One such daredevil was Mickey Thompson, who tried for many years, using four Pontiac V8 engines to set the record. He became the first American to surpass 400 mph!! He once visited my Dad’s shop in Kingsburg.
The frisbee was invented in Utah, by Walter F. Morrison. It began with he and his wife tossing tin cake pans back and forth at the beach. He started making “Pluto Platters” back in 1948.
Of absolutely no importance, Utahans eat twice the amount of green jello as the rest of the population. Why? They love to put shredded carrots into this sweet treat here. Likewise, the first KFC was born here, since Colonel Sanders best friend was Pete Harman, a Utah native. Sanders convinced him to chicken on his menu at the Harman Cafe.
Kane County, often referred to as “Little Hollywood” hosted many films and TV shows of the Old West. These include: The Lone Ranger (one of my favorites as a kid), Gunsmoke, Stagecoach, Arabian Nights, and Planet of the Apes.
The Kennecott Copper claims to have the largest man-made pit about 20 minutes outside of Salt Lake. Over 18 million tons of copper has been produced, from the pit that reaches a quarter mile into the earth. It can fit two Willis Buildings (Chicago) stacked on top of each other, with room to spare.
At this point, I think that is enough Utah trivia. It is more than either of us want to know. But I reiterate, Utah is a beautiful and wonderful place to visit. You must go at least three times!