1) Utah had a Jewish Governor
Utah’s fourth Governor was Simon Bamberger, who served in office from 1917 to 1921. He was the first non-Mormon governor, the first Democrat and the first (and only) person of Jewish descent to serve in that office. During his term, Governor Bamberger balanced the budget (from a large deficit), created the Department of Public Health and formed a public utilities commission. At the end of his term, the 75-year-old Governor declined to seek a second term. He died in 1926 and was buried in the Congregation B’nai Israel Cemetery in Salt Lake City.
2) Our Record Low Temperature Rivals That of Minnesota
On February 1, 1985, meteorologists measured a temperature of -69 degrees Fahrenheit at Peter Sinks, the coldest spot in Utah. Minnesota’s coldest temperature on record is a balmy -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
3) Utah Men Love My Little Pony
Based on recent research using Google Trends, a blogger discovered that Utahns Google “Bronies” more than any other phrase or word. A Brony is a Bro who likes My Little Pony. Go ahead, Google it… you’ll see what I’m talking about. Don’t be embarrassed. After all, Utah already holds the distinction for this Google search term. One more search won’t make a difference.
4) The Largest Hindu Color Festival in the World is in Utah
I’ve mentioned this in previous articles, but if you don’t thoroughly read every word I write, you may have missed it: The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork hosts the world’s largest color festival in the world! This is pretty amazing, considering that Utah county has the world’s highest percentage of Mormons.
5) Utah’s First Olympic Gold Medalist Was From Parowan
Alma Richards won the gold medal in the running high jump during the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. He attended BYU and Cornell where he graduated in 1917. Richards went on to law school. Though he lived in California until he retired, he is buried in the Parowan Cemetery.
6) Utah Had a Japanese Internment Camp During World War II
During World War II, the U.S. government forced Americans of Japanese descent out of their homes and into internment camps, despite the fact that most were U.S. citizens or legal residents, and none were charged with any crime. Utah was the site of one of those camps — the Topaz Internment Camp. Topaz housed as many as 8,000 people during the war. One man was shot and killed at Topaz when he wandered too close to the barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp. Topaz was dismantled in October, 1945.
7) Pioneers Did Not Arrive in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th
That big celebration we have every July 24th, celebrating the arrival of the pioneers? Not quite accurate. Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow, acting as scouts for the party, arrived in the valley on July 21st. The pioneers arrived on July 22nd, and camped around what is now 1700 South and 500 East. They got right to work, plowing and planting crops. Brigham Young arrived on the 24th (what in the world was he DOING for those two days?) He made his proclamation about this being THE place, which was good news for those pioneers who’d already spent two days laboring in the hot Utah sun.
8) Utahns Weren’t Always So Patriotic
In fact, the Mormon pioneers were running AWAY from the United States. When they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the land was actually part of Mexico. About seven months later, the Mexican-American War ended, and the territory was ceded to the U.S., so the Mormons were back in America, without even going anywhere.
9) Utahns Broke the World Record for the Largest Nativity Scene
In 2014, 1,039 people (including David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), gathered at Rock Canyon Park in Provo and broke the world record for a live nativity scene. Participants dressed as angels (with a few special people selected as Mary and Joseph). Also present: a camel, a donkey and a few sheep.
10. We Were Home to the World's First KFC
Though Harland Sanders had been selling chicken for years, the first official KFC franchise opened in Utah in 1952.
Before I completed my research, I only knew THREE of these 10 things about Utah (Topaz, KFC and the Color Festival). How many did you already know before you read this list?