It seems to me that Utah is a pretty quiet place to live. Our state rarely makes the news for doing weird things…but it does occasionally happen. Here are 10 times that weird, strange things happened in the Beehive State.
1. Remember that time that the city of Virgin made a law that every resident must have a gun and ammunition?
The city ordinance was passed in 2000, but Mark Shurtleff, the Attorney General at the time, called the town mayor and reminded him that only the Utah State Legislature can make laws regarding gun control.
2. The town of La Verkin once demanded that every citizen who supported the United Nations come forward publicly.
The ordinance passed stated that La Verkin is a "United Nations-Free Zone." Attorney General Mark Shurtliff met with city leaders soon thereafter, and they changed the ordinance so it didn't interfere with the freedom of speech rights of any residents.
3. In 1983, Salt Lake City's State Street was turned into a river.
When City Creek flooded, the water came rushing into downtown Salt Lake City. To manage the water, State Street was sand-bagged and turned into a temporary river.
4. In March of 1968, 6,000 sheep died mysteriously in Skull Valley.
The U.S. Army conducted open-air tests of the nerve agent VX just days before. For years, the Army denied that its tests had anything to do with the deaths of the sheep, though investigative reports concluded otherwise.
5. Two men from Beryl were charged with "Practicing Medicine Without A License" after drilling a hole in a woman's head in January, 2000.
The men were accompanied by producers of the television show "20/20," who were doing research for a story about trephination. The practice involves drilling one or more holes in a person's head in order to increase blood flow and supposedly decrease symptoms of depression.
6. This restaurant's statue of a bull had residents of Hurricane up in arms in 2015.
The bull's cone-shaped appendage was not pleasing to the folks in Hurricane, 500 of whom signed a petition. They pointed out that the restaurant is right across the street from a high school (and everyone knows that high school students have never seen anything like that - especially not the many young 4-H participants in a rural Utah town). The restaurant removed the controversial body part from its bull, and the statue remains on top of the sign.
7. In 1971, a Utahn a former BYU student hijacked a plane, collected $500,000 in ransom, then escaped by jumping out of the plane with a parachute.
The man, Richard McCoy, was later caught, and has long been suspected of being the infamous D.B. Cooper, who had hijacked a plane four months earlier and had bailed out (with a parachute) after collecting $200,000 in ransom money. McCoy was convicted of the second hijacking, but escaped prison and was shot to death in a standoff with police. We'll never know if he was the true D.B. Cooper.
8. How about that time in 2005 when a guy started his own country - inside Utah's borders?
Did you know that Utah is home to the Republic of Zaqistan? The country encompasses two acres in the West desert, and is recognized by no one other than a handful of people, including Zaq Landsberg, the founder. No one can live in Zaqistan, due to its very remote location, and it has no water and can sustain only the barest scrapings of life - some sagebrush and snakes.
9. Elmer L. Gray placed this seriously strange headstone on his wife's grave.
Theories abounded as to why - who puts "Victim of the Beast" on the headstone of a loved one? The answers still aren't definitive, but there's no reason to think that Lily died from anything other than natural causes. There IS reason to think that Elmer was a few cards short of a deck, though - court records show some weird comments that he made throughout the years. He was one eccentric guy.
10. On August 11, 1999 a tornado touched down in Salt Lake City.
We always thought we were protected by this huge Wasatch Mountain Range to the east...tornados don't occur in downtown Salt Lake City! But this one did, and it wreaked some major havoc, causing $170 million in property damage and the loss of one life.
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