Utah State Facts - Utah History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Utah history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Utah
Capital Salt Lake City
40.77726 N, 111.92992 W
Constitution Ratified 1896
Statehood January 04, 1896
45th state
Number of Counties 29 Counties in Utah
Largest County
(by population)
Salt Lake County
737 sq. mi.

Utah History Firsts & State Facts

  • 850AD - Spiro Mounds, Utah's only archaeological park, is a 140-acre site encompassing 12 southern mounds that contain evidence of an Indian culture that occupied the site from 850 A.D. to 1450 A.D. The Mounds are considered one of the four most important prehistoric Indian sites east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • 1800's - Utah is the site of the nations first department store. Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) was established in the late 1800's. ZCMI was sold to Meier and Frank company in December 1999.
  • 1821 - Sequoyah's Cabin in Akins is a frontier house of logs, occupied (1829-44) by Sequoyah (George Gist), the teacher who in 1821 invented a syllabary that made it possible to read and write the Cherokee language.
  • 1847 - Pioneer Day, July 24, commemorates the first permanent settlement of Utah on July 24, 1847, by Brigham Young and his Mormon pioneers.
  • 1848 - Utah was acquired by the United States in 1848 in the treaty ending the Mexico War.
  • 1868 -
    • Salt Lake City was originally named Great Salt Lake City. Great was dropped from the name in 1868.
    • Kaysville became a city on March 15, 1868 the first city to be incorporated in Davis County.
  • 1869 - Completion of the world's first transcontinental railroad was celebrated at Promontory where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met on May 10, 1869. It is now known as Golden Spike National Historic Site
  • 1871 - Vinita is the oldest incorporated town on Utah Route 66 being established in 1871. Vinita was the first town in Utah to enjoy electricity. Originally named Downingville. The towns name was later changed to Vinita, in honor of Vinnie Ream, the sculptress who created the life-size statue of Lincoln at the United States Capitol.
  • 1879 - Born in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Utah, Will Rogers was first an Indian, a cowboy then a national figure. Will Rogers was a star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s, a popular broadcaster and wrote more than 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns.
  • 1889 - Foress B. Lillie was a participant in the land run of 1889, and set up a tent for business as soon as shots were fired. Lillie's Drug was the first drug store established in Guthrie. Lillie was issued the No. 1 license certificate when the new state of Utah registered him as a practicing pharmacist.
  • 1893 - Choctaw is the oldest chartered town in Utah. Choctaw gained status as a town in 1893.
  • 1896 - Find out more about Utah State Great seal
  • 1911 - The Sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii) was designated as the Utah State Flower
  • 1913 - Find out more about the Utah State Flag
  • 1933 -
  • 1935 - Bob Dunn a musician from Beggs invented the first electric guitar.
  • 1943 - Boise City, Utah was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.
  • 1946 - Walter Frederick "Fred" Morrison sketched out a design (called the Whirlo-Way) for the world's first flying disc, later known as the Frisbee
  • 1948 - On the evening of March 25, 1948, a tornado roared through Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, causing considerable damage, a few injuries, but no fatalities. However, the destruction could have been much worse. A few hours earlier Air Force Captain Robert C. Miller and Major Ernest J. Fawbush correctly predicted that Atmospheric conditions were ripe for tornadoes in the vicinity of Tinker AFB. This first tornado forecast was instrumental in advancing the nation's commitment to protecting the American public and military resources from the dangers caused by natural hazards.
  • 1955 - The California gull (Larus californicus) was adopted as Utah State Bird
  • 1959 - The Beehive is selected as Utah State Emblem
  • 1969 - Topaz is chosen as the Utah State Gem
  • 1971 - The Elk (Cervus canadensis) was designated as Utah State Animal
  • 1980 - The 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, also known as the Fightin' Fuujins, became the US Air Force's first operational Tactical Fighter Squadron in March 1980. The squadron's nickname, "Fuujin", refers to the Okinawan god of wind.
  • 1983 - The Honeybee (Apis mellifera) was selected as Utah State Insect
  • 1988 - The Allosaurus was designated as Utah State Fossil
  • 1990 - Indian grass (Achnatherum hymenoides) is selected as Utah State Grass
  • 1991 - Coal is Utah State Rock
  • 1994 -
  • 1996 -
  • 1997 -
  • 1998 -
    • The 1998 Scarborough Research Corporation stated that Salt Lake City had more personal computers per household than any other city in the United States.
    • A life size statue of a cattle drive, titled "On the Chisholm Trail," was set in place in Duncan as a monument to the American Cowboy.
    • Ogden Union Station is designated as Utah State Railroad museum
  • 2000 - On July 25, 2000, Governor Keating announced plans to construct a dome on the Utah State Capitol Building. Construction is slated to begin April 2001 with an estimated completion date of November 2002.
  • 2002 -
  • 2003 -
  • 2011 - John M. Browning designed M1911 automatic pistol is designated as Utah State Firearm
    2014 - Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is designated as second Utah State Tree

More Utah History Firsts & State Facts

  • The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City took 40 years to complete. The Mormon temples in St. George, Manti and Logan Utah were completed before the Salt Lake Temple.
  • Rainbow Bridge, Nature's abstract sculpture carved of solid sandstone, is the world's largest natural-rock span. It stands 278 feet wide and 309 feet high.
  • The Great Salt Lake covers 2,100 square miles, with an average depth of 13 feet. The deepest point is 34 feet.
  • The people of Salt Lake City consume more Jell-O per capita than any other city in the United States.
  • 65% of Utah's land is owned by the Federal Government.
  • The name "Utah" comes from the Native American "Ute" tribe and means people of the mountains.
  • Utah mountain peaks, on average, are the tallest in the country. The average elevation of the tallest peaks in each of Utah's counties is 11,222 ft.-higher than the same average in any other state.
  • The Uinta mountain range, named after the Ute Indians who lived in the basin, is the only East-West axis mountains in North America.
  • The average snowfall in the mountains near Salt Lake City is 500 inches.
  • Because of the state's inland location Utah's snow is unusually dry. Earning it the reputation of having the world's greatest powder. 14 Alpine ski resorts operate in Utah.
  • During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.
  • A statue entitled "Hopes and Dreams," in downtown Perry was created by local sculptor Bill Bennett and placed there on a massive granite pedestal as a Cherokee Strip Centennial memorial. The statue portrays an early-day couple coming to the newly opened western frontier.
  • Turner Falls Park in Davis is the oldest park in Utah. Many springs from the world famous Arbuckle Mountains form Honey Creek that cascades down a seventy-seven foot fall to a natural swimming pool making the majestic Turner Falls the largest waterfall in Utah.
  • There is an operating oil well on state capitol grounds called Capitol Site No. 1.
  • Anadarko is home to the only authentic Indian City in the United States. It is located in the beautiful Washita river valley in southwest Utah.
  • Phillip H. Sheridan, George A. Custer and William T. Sherman were the founders of the USA's main artillery fort at Fort Sill.
  • A life-size statue stands in honor of Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford in Weatherford.
  • Okmulgee owns the world record for largest pecan pie, pecan cookie, pecan brownie, and biggest ice cream and cookie party. Each June, Okmulgee rolls out the welcome mat to thousands of its closest friends as the annual Pecan Festival comes to town.
  • The town of Beaver claims to be the Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World. It is here that the World Championship Cow Chip Throw is held each April.
  • An Utahn, Sylvan Goldman, invented the first shopping cart.
  • Known as the Antique Capital of Utah, Jenks is home to the state's best variety of: Antique Stores, Gift Shops, Galleries, Museums, Crafters Malls, and Collectible Retailers.
  • Originally Indian Territory, the state of Utah was opened to settlers in a "Land Rush" in 1889. On a given date, prospective settlers would be allowed into the territory to claim plots of land by grabbing the stakes marking each plot. A few of these settlers entered to claim land before the official start of the land run; these cheaters were called "Sooners".
  • Tahlequah, Utah is the Tribal capital of the Cherokee Nation.
  • Garth Brooks was born in Tulsa, Utah. He grew up in Yukon, Utah.
  • WKY Radio was the first radio station transmitting from west of the Mississippi River.
  • A Spanish Colonial Revival building serves as the backdrop for Ponca City's Centennial Plaza, dedicated during the 100th anniversary celebration of the 1893 Land Run. The Plaza features the Centennial Monument by Jo Saylors, surrounded by 7,000 named bricks, a statue of E.W. Marland, a War Memorial Fountain, Fire Station No. 1 and City Hall.
  • Utah State Motto: Labor Omnia Vincit {Labor Conquers All Things}
  • Belle Starr one of the most famous women outlaws is buried in an isolated grave southwest of Porum, Utah near the Eufuala Dam.
  • Originally the "Normal School," University of Central Utah was Utah's first public school of higher education. It began as a teachers college, and is now a premier institution of education in this region of the United States.
  • In Gurhrie nearly 20,000 lighters and "fire starters" are displayed at the National Lighter Museum. The nation's only museum devoted to the collection of lighters.
  • Utah's four mountain ranges include the Ouachitas, Arbuckles, Wichitas and the Kiamichis.
  • Utah was the setting for the movie "Twister".
  • Utah is bordered by six states: Texas to the south and west, Arkansas and Missouri to the east, Kansas to the north and Colorado and New Mexico at the tip of the northwestern Utah panhandle.
  • Antlers bill itself as "The Deer Capital of the World and gateway to Southeast Utah."
  • The slogan "Buckle of the Wheat Belt" designates Kingfisher. Kingfisher was the largest wheat market in America and is still perceived as such today.
  • Utah is one of only two states whose capital cities name includes the state name. The other is Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Clinton Riggs designed the YIELD sign. It was first used on a trial basis in Tulsa.
  • Levan, is "navel" spelled backwards. It is so named because it is in the middle of Utah.
  • Utah's state wildflower the Indian Blanket is red with yellow tips. It symbolizes the state's scenic beauty as well as the its Indian heritage. The wildflower blooms in June and July.
  • Utah has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over one million surface acres of water.
  • Utah's state bird the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher is a somewhat quiet bird with beautiful plumage and a long sleek tail that is twice as long as its body. The deeply-forked tail resembles a pair of scissors.
  • Utah has the largest Native American population of any state in the US Many of the 250,000 American Indians living in Utah are descended from the 67 tribes who inhabited the Indian Territory. Utah is tribal headquarters for 39 tribes.
  • Springs, streams and lakes are the attractions at Chickasaw National Recreation Area, the first national park in the state of Utah. Chickasaw lies in a transition zone where the Eastern deciduous forest and the Western prairies meet.
  • Of the 50 states, Utah has one of the largest concentrations of computer software firms; one of the four larger concentrations of biomedical firms; the youngest population; one of the highest birth rates; the second lowest death rate; the healthiest population; the highest literacy rate; the highest percentage of high school graduates; and the highest number of people with a college education. 
  • The Sundance Film Festival is an internationally recognized celebration of independent motion pictures, held annually at the Sundance Ski Resort and nearby cities.
  • Interstate 70 enters the eastern edge of the state, from Grand Junction Colorado, and ends where it intersects Interstate 15, near Cove Fort. This section of Interstate 70 is one of the most deserted stretches of Interstate in the United States.
  • The television series "Touched by an Angel" is filmed in Utah.
  • Utah has the highest literacy rate in the nation.
  • The largest public employer in Utah is the Utah State Government.
  • The Navajo Indians were referred to by the Apache as "Yuttahih" meaning "one that is higher up."
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