Utah History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

History of Utah

Ancient peoples have lived in caves and mountains here for eons, many along the shores of Lake Bonneville. The remains of a major lake now include the(salty) Great Salt Lake and(freshwater)Utah Lake surrounded by the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Utah is named after the Utah Indians, and that tribe, as well as the hunted Goshute, Navajo, Paiute, and Shoshone, fished and farmed this fertile land long before the first settlers fromEurope took the risk.

In the late 18th century, the Dominguez-Escalante expedition (two Franciscan priests) from Santa Fe,New Mexico, passed looking for a new route toCalifornia. By the early 1800s, mountain men (trappers) explored much of this land – and traded with naive but suspicious local Indians.

Following Mexico’s successful War of Independence from Spain in 1821, the Utah region came under Mexican control. Regardless, Jadedia Smith, one of the great explorers of the day, discovered routes through the rugged mountains that allowed thousands of pioneers to travel west to California by wagon train.

John C. Frémont, another famous explorer of time, explored and mapped this land all the time. In 1846, Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders brought them to the people of the west, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, thus changing the face and history of Utah forever.

During the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), both America and Mexico fought for control of Texas. When that war ended, (by convention) the booming US took over Texas, and eventually California, Nevada, smaller parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, and of course, Utah.

The Mormons responded by forming their own government and offered the state of Deseret in 1849. The American Congress did not admit Deseret to the Union, but rather created the Utah Territory in 1850.

Typical in the American West, the Native Americans were shrinking from their long held lands and they fought back aggressively. Hundreds of settlers and Ute Indians were killed, and fighting continued until 1868 when the Indians were moved to the reservation.

The Mormons worked hard to prosper, their population increased, and Salt Lake City prospered; the necessary supplies arrived from the east by land freight; The Pony Express brought both mail and news; the telegraph brought instant communication, and then came the railroad. Soon after settling in Utah, the Mormons spread south to form the city of Provo.

Utah timeline

700’s – 1700’s

  • (700) Anasazi Indians built pueblos in the area
  • (1600) Shoshone Indians now rule area
  • (1776) Sylvester Vélez de Escalante and Francesco Atanasio Dominguez explored Utah on their way to California


  • (1821) Mexico won its independence from Spain and claimed all of Utah
  • (1824) Jim Bridger discovered Salt Lake
  • (1841) Captain John Bartleson led the first convoy of settlers across Utah to California
  • (1843) John C. Frémont and Kit Carson explored the Great Basin
  • (1844) Ogden settled
  • (1847) Brigham Young and Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley
  • (1848) US wins Mexican-American War; Agreement on Guadalupe signed; Utah ceded to the USA.
  • (1849) State of Deseret founded
  • (1850) Utah became an American territory
  • (1854) Grasshopper plague damaged crops
  • (1861) Telegraph service started
  • (1863) Silver and lead discovered at Bingham Canyon
  • (1873) Polygamy, outlawed by Congress
  • (1890) The Mormon Church issued a far-reaching Manifesto ending polygamy
  • (1896) Utah became the 45th state


  • (1906) Copper mining started at Bingham Canyon
  • (1914) Car Racing at Salt Bonneville Flats
  • (1919) Zion National Park dedicated
  • (1942-1945) Japanese American evacuee camp operated near the Delta
  • (1952) Duchesne Tunnel completed for irrigation; uranium found near Moab
  • (1964) Flaming Gorge Dam completed; started producing electricity
  • (1985) Salt Lake City won the 2002 Winter Olympic bid; Great Salt Lake floods northern Utah
  • (1996) Utah celebrated 100th birthday of statehood
  • (1999) Tornado hit downtown Salt Lake City, caused over $100 million dollars in damage


  • (2002) Winter Olympics held
  • (2003) Kidnapped teenager, Elizabeth Smart, found alive in Salt Lake City, kidnappers arrested
  • (2004) NASA space capsule, Genesis, carrying trapped particles deflated the Sun, crashed to Earth in the Utah desert after parachutes failed to open
  • (2007) A gunman opened fire in a crowded mall in Salt Lake City, killing five
  • (2007) Six miners trapped in my collapse, three rescuers killed
  • (2012) Canadian free skier, Sarah Burke, died in a training accident in Park City
  • (2012) The Mormon Church apologized for posthumously christening the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal

Salt Lake City

Placed on the southern shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, this western city blends all the energy of a growing metro area with the strong history and traditions of the original Mormon pioneers.

Salt Lake City, Utah began in 1847 when 143 men, three women and two children, led by founder Brigham Young, settled here. Mormons came to Utah to find a place to act according to their religious beliefs, which included polygamy at the time, without interference from the US government. The city has developed significantly since this time, and polygamy is no longer condoned by the mainstream Mormon church.

Salt Lake City is watched over by the magnificent Wasatch Sierra, home to some of the best skiing in the United States. This Utah capital experiences the full spectrum of four seasons with hot and cold summers, dry winters, snow on the mountains and great year-round skiing.

The Great Salt Lake and its islands provide recreational activities, and the lake’s waters are sourced for salt and other minerals.

  • Salt Lake City is based on the grid, with almost every street coming in the exact north-south or east-west direction.
  • In 1952, this western city saw the very first KFC store.
  • It’s against the law to carry an open ukulele on the streets of Salt Lake City!
  • More than 50% of the metro population of Salt Lake City are Mormon.

There are many great things to do in the Salt Lake City area for any Utah travel plan!

The surrounding mountains, rivers and rugged terrain offer visitors a wide variety of outdoor adventures such as hiking, from road hauling, white water rafting and camping. Salt Lake City attractions include great family escapes such as water parks, zoos, Mormon founders’ homes, large city parks, restaurants, and theaters. Read on for a few of the most interesting attractions in beautiful Salt Lake City.

Temple Square
Temple Square, containing the country’s most beautiful and historic Mormon institutions, is the most popular attraction in all of Utah.Within its walls you can visit the magnificent Tabernacle, home to the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The tall Marquee organ (11,623 pipes) and the dome shaped structure produce close perfect acoustics.Beehive House is the historic home of Brigham Young and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Originally the Utah Hotel, this is a moving shrine to the Mormon leader’s lifelong work. Nearby, the Salt Lake City Family History Library is the most prestigious genealogical research center in the

Salt Lake City Skiing Salt
Lake City sits at the base on the pristine Wasatch Mountains, home to Utah ‘s world famous ski resorts including Brighton, Junco Winter, Solitude and Alta. All of these excellent resorts offer ski equipment rentals, lessons and runs from beginner to double black diamond.The area is home to a wide range of accommodations from luxury ski lodges to quaint hotels to plan motels. Brighton Resort is known for its family friendliness and affordability. The ski park has three separate terrain layouts, a unique snowboard runs and receives 500 inches of Utah’s pristine snow annually.

Clark Planetarium
Utah’s great western skies are perfect for viewing the Cosmos in all its glory. Clark Planetarium is a famous facility located a few blocks from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The Hansen Dome Planetarium Theater features a variety of stellar shows such as ‘Black Holes’ and ‘Extraordinary Planets’.Enjoy Imax theater for NASCAR and Space Station, 3D shows, Laser Shows releasing music from Pink Floyd in psychedelic wonder and educational programs keep amateur astronomers excited by the night skies.

Utah History