Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Utah is a western state of the United States, in the Rocky Mountains region. Its capital is Salt Lake City. The state had a population of 2,351,467 in 2003 according to a Census Bureau estimate. The state is generally rugged and arid, and has spectacular natural scenery. It is a popular summer and winter tourist destination. Salt Lake City, the ski resorts in the Wasatch Range, and the national parks of the south are the most popular destinations. The name Utah is from the Southern Ute language and means "higher up". The Paiute, Navajo, and Goshute nations also inhabit portions of the state. It is the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), of which approximately 60% of the residents are members. Residents are called Utahns. Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, which gave a significant boost to the state's tourist industry (especially the ski resorts).
Native Americans have lived in Utah for several thousand years; most archeological evidence dates such habitation about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Some left petroglyphs and pictographs which exist throughout the state.
A group led by two Roman Catholic priests—sometimes called the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition—left Santa Fe in 1776, hoping to find a route to the California coast. The expedition travelled as far north as Utah Lake and encountered the native residents.
Mormon settlers first came to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. At the time, Utah was still Mexican territory. As a consequence of the Mexican-American War, the land became the territory of the United States upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. The Treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on March 10. In 1850 the Utah Territory was created with the Compromise of 1850, and Fillmore was designated the capital. In 1856, Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital.
Disputes between the Mormon inhabitants, who had settled in the area in 1847 and were pushing for the establishment of the State of Deseret, and the US Government, intensified after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly admitted to the practice of polygamy among their members. The US Government, which was reluctant to admit a state the size of the proposed Deseret into the union, opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons.
After news of their polygamous practices spread, the members of the LDS Church were quickly viewed as un-American and rebellious. In 1857, after news of a false rebellion spread, the government sent troops in the "Utah expedition" to quell the supposed rebellion and to replace Brigham Young as territorial governor with Alfred Cumming . The resulting conflict is known as the Utah War.
As troops approached, Mormon settlers and Paiutes attacked and killed 120 immigrants from Missouri, an event called the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The Massacre became a point of contention between LDS leaders and the federal government for decades. Twenty years later one man, John D. Lee was executed for the massacre.
Before troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston entered the state, Brigham Young ordered all residents of Salt Lake City to evacuate southward to Utah Valley and sent out a force, known as the Nauvoo Legion, to delay the government's advance. Although wagons and supplies were burned, eventually the troops arrived and Young surrendered official control to Cumming, although most subsequent commentators claim Young retained true power in the territory. A steady stream of presidential-appointed governors quit the position, often citing unresponsiveness of their supposed territorial government. By agreement with Young, Johnston established Fort Floyd 40 miles away from Salt Lake City, to the southwest.
Due to the Civil War, federal troops were pulled out of Utah Territory, leaving the territory in LDS hands until Patrick E. Connor arrived with a regiment of California volunteers in 1862. Connor established Fort Douglas just three miles east of Salt Lake City, and encouraged his men to discover mineral deposits to bring more non-Mormons into the state. Minerals were discovered in Tooele County, and miners began to flock to the territory.
Beginning in 1865, Utah's Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory's history. Chief Antonga Black Hawk surrendered in 1867, but fights continued to break out until additional federal troops were sent in to suppress the Ghost Dance of 1872. The war is unique among Indian Wars because it was a three way conflict, with mounted Timpanogos Utes led by Antonga Black Hawk exploiting the mutual distrust between federal and LDS authorities.
On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake. The railroad brought increasing numbers of non-Mormons into the state, and several influential non-Mormon businessmen would make fortunes in the territory.
During the 1870s and 1880s a number of laws were set to punish polygamists, and in the 1890 Manifesto the LDS Church finally agreed to ban polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted. One of the conditions to granting Utah's statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the Utah Constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were also admitted later into the Union. Statehood of Utah was officially granted on January 4, 1896.
Beginning in the early 1900s, with the establishment of such national parks as Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Utah began to become known for its natural beauty. Southern Utah became a popular filming spot for arid, rugged scenes, and such natural landmarks as Delicate Arch and "the Mittens" of Monument Valley are instantly recognizable to most national residents. During the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, with the construction of the Interstate highway system, accessibility to the southern scenic areas was made easier.
Beginning in 1939, with the establishment of the Alta Ski Area, Utah has become world-renowned for its skiing. The dry, powdery snow of the Wasatch Range is considered some of the best skiing in the world. Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995, and this has served as a great boost to the economy. The ski resorts have increased in popularity and many of the Olympic venues scattered across the Wasatch Front continue to be used for sporting events. This also spurred the development of the light-rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, and the re-construction of the freeway system around the city.
Law and government
- See: List of Utah Governors, Utah State Senate , and Utah State House of Representatives
The capital and largest city of the state of Utah is Salt Lake City.
In 2004, three proposed amendments  were put on the Utah election ballot, including the controversial Amendment 3, which defines marriage as a civil union between one man and one woman, and provides no legal recognition for other forms of civil union. On November 2, 2004, Amendment 3 was approved by 66 per cent of Utah's citizens.
Utah is one of the Four Corners states and is bordered by Idaho and Wyoming in the north, by Colorado in the east, by New Mexico to the southeast across the Four Corners, by Arizona in the south, and by Nevada in the west. It covers an area of 84,899 sq miles (219,887 sq km).
One of Utah's defining characteristics is the variety of its terrain. Running down the center of the state is the Wasatch Range, which rises to heights of about 11,500 feet. These mountains receive 500 or more inches of snow a year and are home to world-renowned ski resorts, made popular by the light, fluffy snow, which is considered good for skiing. In the northeastern section of the state, running east to west, are the Uinta Mountains, which rise to heights of 13,000 feet or more. The highest point in the state, Kings Peak, at an elevation of 13,526 feet (4,123 meters), lies within the Uinta Mountains. Other popular ski resorts lie at the very western edge of the Uintas. Popular recreational destinations within the mountains besides the ski resorts include Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area , Timpanogas Cave National Monument , Bear Lake, and Jordanelle, Strawberry , and Rockport reservoirs. The mountains are popular camping, rock-climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and hiking destinations.
At the base of the Wasatch Range is the Wasatch Front, a series of valleys and basins that are home to the most populous parts of the state. The major cities of Salt Lake City, Layton, Ogden, West Valley City, Sandy, West Jordan, Orem, and Provo are located within this region.
Western Utah is mostly arid desert with a basin and range geology. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain punctuate the landscape. However, the Bonneville Salt Flats are an exception, being comparetively flat. Most of western Utah was once covered in Lake Bonneville. The Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake are the only two significant remains of this ancient freshwater lake which once covered most of the eastern Great Basin. West of the Great Salt Lake, stretching to the Nevada border, lies the Great Salt Lake Desert, the driest, most arid area in Utah.
Much of the scenic southern landscape is sandstone, more specifically Kayenta sandstone and Navajo sandstone . The Colorado River and its tributaries wind their way through the sandstone, creating some of the most striking and wild terrain in the world. Wind and rain have also scuplted the soft sandstone over millions of years. Canyons, gullies, arches, pinnacles, buttes, bluffs, and mesas are the common sight throughout south-central and southeast Utah. This terrain is accentuated in protected parks such as Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks, Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, and Natural Bridges national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (site of the popular tourist destination, Lake Powell), Dead Horse Point State Park , and Monument Valley, a popular photographic and filming site. Southwestern Utah is low in elevation and is the hottest spot in Utah. It is known as Dixie because early settlers mitakenly belived that cotton could grow there. Beaverdam Wash in far southwestern Utah is the lowest elevation in Utah, at an elevation of exactly 2,000 ft (610 m).
Eastern Utah is a high elevation area covered mostly by plateaus and basins. These areas are snowy, cold, and for the most part very barren. It has an economy mostly driven by mining and ranching. Much of eastern Utah is covered in the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation . The most popular destination within eastern Utah is Dinosaur National Monument.
Like most of the west and southwest states, the federal government owns much of the land in Utah. In Utah over seventy percent of the land is either BLM land or U.S. National Forest, park, U.S. National Monument, National Recreation Area or U.S. Wilderness Area area. Under Article IV, § 3, cl. 2 of the United States Constitution, the federal government has plenary and supreme--although concurrent--civil and criminal jurisdiction over these federal lands within the borders of each state.
See also List of Utah counties
Most of Utah is arid and high in elevation. Most of eastern and southern Utah receive 12 inches (300 mm) or less of precipitation per year, while many mountain areas receive more than 40 in (1000 mm) per year, with many areas receiving up to 60 in (1500 mm). Much of western Utah receives less than 10 in (250 mm), while the Wasatch Front receives approximately 15 in (380 mm). The Great Salt Lake Desert is especially dry, receiving less than 5 in (130 mm) a year. Snowfall is common in Winter everywhere except the southern border and the Great Salt Lake Desert. Saint George averages about 3 in (7.5 cm) of snow per year, while Salt Lake City receives almost 60 in (150 cm) a year (amplified by the lake effect from the Great Salt Lake). Many mountain areas receive in excess of 350 in (900 cm) of snow in a year, while portions of the Wasatch Range receive up to 500 in (1,250 cm). Snowfall is common from late November through March in the lower elevations and from October through May in the mountains. The mountains often remain snow-covered into July. Fog and haze often caused by temperature inversions are common in the valleys and basins during Winter, especially the Uinta Basin , just south of the Uinta Mountains.
During Summer and Autumn most of the precipitation is received from the monsoon coming from the south and consists of short, sporadic, and intense thunderstorms that can cause wildfires and flash floods. Most precipitation in the rest of the year is received from the Pacific Ocean. Spring is the wettest season across the north while late Summer and early Autumn are the wettest times in the south and Winter is the wettest season in most of the mountain areas.
Temperatures during the winter across much of Utah are below freezing. High temperatures average between 30 °F (−1 °C) and 40 °F (4 °C) across most of the state, although in the south average high temperatures reach 50 °F (10 °C) or more. Days below 0 °F (−18 °C) can be expected in many areas at least once a year, but they are usually short in duration and not terribly severe. Mountains to the north and east of the state serve as barriers to Arctic air. In the summer high temperatures average between 85 °F (29 °C) and 95 °F (35 °C), although reach 100 °F (38 °C) in the south. Days over 100 °F (38 °C) can be expected in most areas below 5,000 ft (1,500 m) at least once per year, and are common in the south. The record high temperature in Utah was 117 °F (47 °C), recorded at Saint George on July 5, 1985, and the record low was −69 °F (−56 °C), recorded at Peter's Sink in the Bear River Mountains of northern Utah on February 1, 1985.
Parks and monuments
The desert plateaus of Southern Utah contain five U.S. National Parks:
U.S. National Monuments in Utah include:
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument
- Timpanogos Cave National Monument
In addition, Utah contains several notable state parks and monuments:
- Dead Horse Point State Park
- Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument
- Snow Canyon State Park
- This Is The Place State Park
Interstate 15 is the main interstate highway in the state, stretching from Arizona to Idaho and serving such cities as Saint George, Provo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden. Interstate 84 enters from Idaho at Snowville and merges with I-15 at Tremonton, staying merged until Roy. I-84 then heads southeast through the mountains, terminating at Interstate 80 at Echo . I-80 enters Nevada at Wendover and heads east through Salt Lake City, briefly merging with I-15 before climbing into the mountains and weaving through canyons and across plateaus into Wyoming just before reaching Evanston. Interstate 70 begins at Cove Fort and heads east through mostly uninhabited areas, providing access to many of southern Utah's recreation areas before entering Colorado. The stretch of I-70 between Salina and Green River is the longest stretch of interstate in the nation without any services.
A light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley known as TRAX provides access between downtown Salt Lake City and Sandy and the University of Utah. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) operates a bus sytem stretching across the Wasatch Front and into Tooele, and also provides winter service to the ski resorts above Salt Lake City. Several bus companies provide access to the ski resorts in winter, and local bus services also serve Logan and Saint George. The Legacy Highway is a controversial freeway that is planned to eventually run down the entire length of the Wasatch Front. A commuter rail is planned to also eventually run the length of the Wasatch Front.
The population of Utah in 2000 was 2,233,169. In 2003, the population was estimated at 2,351,467 people, a growth of more than 120,000 since 2000
Much of the population lives in cities and towns along the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region that runs north-south with the Wasatch Mountains rising on the eastern side. The rest of the state is mostly rural or wilderness. Utah has a higher percentage of people sharing a single religious denomination than any other American state.
The racial makeup of Utah is:
The five largest ancestry groups in Utah are:
The religious affiliations of the people of Utah are:
The age distribution in Utah is:
- 9.4% under age 5
- 32.2% under age 18
- 8.5% 65 or older
The gender makeup of Utah is:
- 49.9% female
- 50.1% male
Major cities and towns
Colleges and universities
Cultural institutions and events
- Utah Symphony Orchestra, which performs in Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City
- Sundance Film Festival
- Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City
- Utah Ballet
- Tuacahn Summer Festival of Theater , which takes place in the Tuacahn Amphitheater in Snow Canyon, near St. George
See also: Music of Utah
Professional sports teams
- Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association
- Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer
- Salt Lake Stingers of the Pacific Coast League
- Utah Snowbears of the American Basketball Association
- Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League
- Provo Angels of the Pioneer League
- Utah Grizzlies of the American Hockey League
- Utah Warriors of the Arena Football League, to begin play in the 2006 season
- The continental meeting of the railroads happened at Promontory Summit, Utah
- Utah native Philo Farnsworth invented the electronic television in 1927
- Utah native John Moses Browning designed a number of popular firearms like the M2 .50 caliber machine gun and the Colt Model 1911 .45 semi-automatic handgun
- The 2002 Winter Olympics were hosted by Salt Lake City
- The USS Utah was named in honor of this state
- Official state website
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Utah Media Directory
- Utah Newspapers Directory
- Photographic virtual tour of Utah.
- Source for religious information: Adherents.com (Kosmin, B.)
- Photos of Utah - Terra Galleria
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