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Area History


Long before whites came to Utah, the Anasazi (Pueblo) people lived in southern Utah. For some 1300 years they inhabited the region. Later, the Utes (from which the state gains its name) and Navajos would arrive. Brigham Young and his Mormon pioneers would be late to the scene, their 148 people (all but three of the adults being men) would be late to the scene, arriving in 1847.

The Brigham Young group wasted no time, though. They began planting crops the very day they arrived, and within a few days they had drawn up designs for the Great Salt Lake City, where each person would have a 10-acre plot, with a 132-foot-wide road matrixed between the plots. Though it took a long time to construct (owing to that it was made up of blocks of solid granite), the Mormon Temple was finally capped in 1892. The completion was aided by adding a rail line into Little Cottonwood Canyon (where the rock came from), which alleviated the need to haul them by ox and cart. Originally part of Mexico, a treaty signed in 1948 gave the land over to the U.S., so technically the original Mormon group, which were largely European converts, constructed Salt Lake City in Mexico!

Between 1860 and 1920, literally hundreds of lead, copper, silver, and gold mines opened near Salt Lake City, leading to huge smelting operations that were built to purify the ore. The Mormon settlers became very wealthy from the proceeds. By the early 1900's, Salt Lake City began to look largely as it does today. Many innovations were added, and between 1900 and 1930, the population of SLC tripled.

What was halted by the Great Depression was swiftly resolved by the industrious Mormons when World War II's demands for industry revitalized the local industry and its economy. As time progressed, the Mormon Church would continue to be involved in the development of Salt Lake City, investing millions of dollars to develop downtown shopping centers, initiating beautification programs, and developing the Salt Palace Convention Center. The Salt Lake City International Airport, duty free shops, and an 18-hole golf course were further expansions. The 2002 Olympic Winter Games heralded massive growth as well. With more than 2000 rooms added, the total capacity was now over 15,000! Salt Lake City was decidedly prepared for the Olympics. The north-south light-rail transportation called TRAX was put in at an expense of some 312 million dollars, linking valley residents with the downtown sector. The Salt Palace Convention Center has undergone another expansion, and both Salt Lake and Utah seem to be in an unstoppable upward climb.

Utah is still in a strong period of growth. Touted as amongst the best locations for business, the city has gathered some of the highest technology in the nation into a high concentration that makes it even more conducive to new growth. Between the richness of natural resources, the beauty of the land, and a seemingly unerring ability to lead the way in both sports and business developments, Utah's future looks brighter than ever.