1. Clarion, Utah was the site of a Jewish settlement.
In 1911, a group of Jewish settlers, led by Benjamin Brown, established an experimental colony near Gunnison. The settlers hoped to return to a more simple, rural life. A year later, more than 150 families lived in Clarion. However, a drought destroyed the colony’s crops in 1914. Most residents moved away, and Clarion became a ghost town. A Jewish cemetery still exists there today.
2. The Olympic bid idea was born at Lamb’s Grill.
Lamb’s Grill is Utah’s oldest continually operating restaurant. George P. Lamb, a Greek immigrant, opened the cafe in Logan in 1919. He moved the location to Salt Lake City’s Main Street in 1939. Lamb’s is also supposedly the place that the idea for an Olympic bid was born. Three men, (Jack Gallivan of the Salt Lake Tribune, Max Rich, then president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Governor Cal Rampton) wrote up a plan on the back of a napkin.
3. Utah’s capital city once had a different name.
Originally, it was known as Great Salt Lake City. The word “Great” was dropped in 1868.
4. The Fielding Garr Ranch House was originally occupied by a war veteran with nine children.
Fielding Garr established the sheep and cattle ranch on Antelope Island in 1848, just one year after arriving in Utah with Brigham Young. Before joining Mormon pioneers on the trek to Utah, Garr served in the War of 1812, then converted to the LDS church in 1842. His wife Paulina died in 1844, leaving him a widower with nine children. The little adobe house was inhabited until 1981, when the island became a state park.The Fielding Garr Ranch House is the oldest home in Utah still standing on its original foundation.
5. When Brigham Young uttered his famous words, the pioneers were already planting crops.
Orson Pratt and John Brown were the first Mormons to see the Salt Lake Valley. They arrived on July 19, 1847 and were impressed with the area. After a few days of scouting, the pioneers moved into the valley on July 22nd and began planting potatoes and turnips. Brigham Young, who had become ill and was traveling behind the pioneers, surveyed the valley from his wagon on July 24th and uttered his famous words, “This is the right place. Drive on!”
6. More than 6,000 sheep mysteriously died near Dugway in 1968.
On March 17, 1968, ranchers near Dugway Proving Ground woke up to find thousands of their sheep dead. Over the following days, more than six thousand sheep were reported dead, killed by a nerve agent sprayed by planes in the area. While ranchers immediately suspected a connection between the sheep deaths and Dugway, reports by the Army remained classified for years. In 1998 a report made in 1970 was made available to the public. The report stated that the evidence that nerve agent had caused the sheeps deaths was “incontrovertible.”
7. Utah’s capital wasn’t always in Salt Lake.
Utah’s first Governor, Brigham Young, declared Fillmore the capital city in 1851. The town was chosen for its central location and was named after Millard Fillmore, the U.S. President who helped Utah fund the first $20,000 needed to build the State House. The Utah Territorial State House was completed in 1855, but only one legislative session was held there (in 1856) before the capital city was moved to Salt Lake.
8. Shooting Star Saloon is Utah’s oldest bar...and it isn’t in Salt Lake.
You might be surprised to learn that Utah’s oldest bar is located in Huntsville. Shooting Star Saloon opened in 1879. Since then, it’s had several owners, its walls have collected tons of memorabilia and its legend continues to grow.
9. Utah had a Japanese internment camp during WW II.
The Topaz War Relocation Center opened on September 11, 1942. It was located west of Delta and housed more than 9,000 Japanese Americans. The camp closed on October 31, 1945.
10. Early Mormon pioneers produced wine… a lot of wine.
In 1860, Brigham Young sent Mormon settlers to Southern Utah to establish tobacco farms and grape vineyards. While tobacco didn’t flourish in the area, grapes did. The wine produced by the early pioneers was so plentiful that thousands of gallons were sent to Salt Lake City, where it was used for the sacrament, medicine and as a trade commodity.
11. The Utah state prison was originally located in Sugar House.
Utah’s state prison hasn’t always been located in Draper. It was originally located in Sugar House. Built in 1855, the Utah Territorial Penitentiary (later renamed Sugar House Prison) housed several famous inmates, including George Q. Cannon, a Utah polygamist who served six months in 1888 for “unlawful cohabitation,” and Joe Hill, the union organizer who was executed by firing squad in 1915. The prison closed in 1951, when the inmates were transferred to the new state prison in Draper.
12. Utah was the second state in the nation to allow women to vote.
Utah granted women the right to vote in 1870 - 50 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified. Wyoming granted women the vote in 1869.