Reading about Utah’s history is always entertaining and interesting, but seeing it in pictures is even better. Here are 21 snapshots of Utah in days gone by, spanning from 1869 to 1969.
The information I’ve included with these photos is either taken from the notes included with the photo, or from historical accounts of the places depicted. In some cases, facts have varied from source-to-source. In those instances, I’ve used the most reliable source.
1) Promontory, 1869
This photo depicts the Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory on May 10, 1869.
2) Salt Lake City, 1869
Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution, 1869. There you have it...the first ZCMI in Salt Lake City. It doesn’t look anything like the one I remember as a child and it certainly pales in comparison to the Macy’s at City Creek.
3) Corinne, 1869
The Daily Reporter, providing the latest news to the citizens of Corinne from 1869 to 1873. Can you imagine the Box Elder News Journal staff working from a tent?
4) Salt Lake County, 1869
We don’t have much information about this photo, other than that it depicts a street in somewhere in Salt Lake County in 1869. Back then, streets didn’t need resurfacing by UDOT every summer...but they sure must have been muddy.
5) Bear River, 1872
William Henry Jackson took this photo in 1872. You can see the old Bear River Hotel and Bear River Bridge.
6) Salt Lake City, 1905
Downtown Salt Lake City, in the winter of 1905. You can see the LDS Temple, Tabernacle and Assembly Hall. The Brigham Young Monument is in the middle of the intersection. Horse-drawn wagons move down the streets.
7) Great Salt Lake, 1910
In 1910, women didn’t worry about getting bikini-ready. Those ladies are wearing swimming costumes! This photo shows the first Saltair, which was completed in 1893. It was very popular, especially during the Roaring 20s, when it attracted more than 500,000 visitors every year. In 1925, the building burned to the ground.
8) Salt Lake City, 1914
The Salt Lake Tribune, long before Robert Kirby and Pat Bagley got up to hijinks.
9) Salt Lake City, 1920
The Paramount Empress Theater was on 53 S. Main Street and opened in 1916, then closed briefly during the Great Depression. It reopened during the 1930s, operated as The Uptown during the 1950s and closed its doors forever in 1971.
10) Clarkston, 1933
This farmer was listening to a radio discussion (apparently while reading a newspaper). Back when attention spans were much longer and overalls were the thing.
11) Ferron, 1936
LaRue Nelson and her children, Dora Dean, Jimmy and Glade. Presbyterian church in the background.
12) Salt Lake City, 1941
This is the Wells MIA Stake Board on May 21, 1941. Taken at The Lion House. The caption on the back of the photo reads, “Some Very Important Has Beens and Is’s.” Kinda snarky, isn’t it?
13) Logan, 1950s
Opened by Dick Lamb in the 1940s, Dick’s Cafe was on 40 S. Main Street in Logan. It closed in 1976.
14) Great Salt Lake, 1951
This is Saltair II, which was built shortly after the first Saltair was destroyed in a fire. The second version didn’t prove as popular as the first, and it closed its doors in 1958. It sat abandoned until it, like its predecessor, burned down in November, 1970.
15) Green River Utah, Late 1950s
The Sleepy Hollow Motel, sometime in the late 1950s. The owner of this photo notes that the photo includes a 1955 Cadillac and a 1958 Chevrolet.
16) Crescent Junction, 1950s
The American Gas Station, sometime in the 1950s.
17) Provo, 1958
BYU students painting the “Y” in the spring of 1958. Taken by John R. Schneider, a BYU student.
18) St. George, 1960
The Big Hand Cafe in St. George in 1960. It was located on 101 N. Main Street (now the intersection of St. George Blvd and Main). It was torn down in the late 1960s.
19) Logan, 1965
Logan High School Football Game, June 1965. No word as to why they were playing in June, or which team they were playing.
20) Green River, 1967
Remember those horribly uncomfortable, orange life vests?
21) Snow Canyon, 1969
Super-cool RV and awesome webbed lawn chairs! Taken in April, 1969 at the Dixie National Forest.
Do you have a historical photo taken in Utah that you’d like to share? Put it down below in the comments and tell us all about it!