Utah

Utah

The Beehive State

The name Utah means “people from the mountains” and derives from the Ute tribe that among other tribes up to today still live in the state. When the first group of Mormon pioneers came to Salt Lake City seeking for a place where they could without interference practice their religion, they tried to change the name of the state to Deseret which according to the Book of Mormons means “honeybee”, it should not only be a symbol for diligence but also a way to impose their religion. The United States Government denied it not only because they wanted to keep State and Church affairs separated but also because they were opposed to the practice of plural marriage or polygamy among the Mormons.

Around 60% of the population in Utah are Mormons even though religious affiliation is not taken into account when it comes to an official census of the population. There is only two States in the US where one religious group is the absolute majority: Rhode Island and Utah.

19th Century: The Mormons arrival

The Church looking forward to bringing more Mormons to Utah established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company- PEF in 1850, the idea with this corporation was to provide financial assistance to the underprivileged members and bring them to Salt Lake City and surrounding regions. The fund was financed by church and private contributions but the members were obliged per contract to repay the amount received. At the end of the century the money was tight and Governor Brigham Young, at the same time President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - LDS, revived an old plan: the immigrants should use as a mean of transportation a handcart instead of a covered wagon, this meant a saving of 6 Pounds per person. Also the ones coming from Europe, most of them really poor Mormons, arriving at the Ports in New York, New Orleans or Boston should take a train to Iowa City where the handcarts would be waiting for them. It was a very long and strenuous journey to Salt Lake City: 90 days on foot and handcarts fully loaded.

The first “handcarts pioneers” (about 800 people) were divided in three treks, they started their march in April 1856, arriving in September/end October with minimal casualties. At the end of June 1856 the last convoy of immigrants for that year (about 1076 people) were caught off guard with the onset of winter in Wyoming (300 miles before Salt Lake City), approximately 220 people died but with an incredible rescue operation for that time the great majority were saved and arrived in November their final destination.

In the following four years there were five treks carried out, they all went trouble-free because of the better organisation.

On the 4th of January, 1896 Utah was admitted as the 45th State to the Union, there were some previous attempts to Statehood which was granted only after the Church banished the polygamy in the State in 1890.

Nature and Landscape – unspoilt and deserted

Valleys, Canyons and spectacular Mountains: Utah offers a great geographical tourism site as well a variety of landscape and travel destinations. The Moab area in the southeastern part , the five National Parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion), the Colorado River and the Greene River to name a few of Utah´s stunning sites. In addition Utah is also known for its winter activities and its numerous Sky locations in the Rocky Mountains.

Utah features extreme temperatures and a dry to arid climate as a result there were not many people who wanted to settle down in the State, so the landscape remained unspoilt and original. Due to this arid climate agriculture near the mountains area is only possible where there is an external irrigation. Utah was probably the first state to practice “Dry Farming”: a set of techniques for raising crops in a semi-arid climate such as: Wheat, Sugar Beets, Potatoes and etc. The Aviation industry, Mining and Tourism play a major role in Utah´s economy.

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