History of Utah
Delicate Arch - Arches National Park
Photo Courtesy: National Park Service
have lived Utah
for several thousand years. They left petroglyphs and pictographs which exist throughout the state.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado may have crossed into what is now southern Utah in 1540, when he was seeking the legendary Cibola.
A group led by two priests--sometimes called the Dominguez-Escalate 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.
Fur trappers including Jim Bidger explored some regions of Utah in the early 1800's. The city of Provo, Utah was named for one such man, Étienne Provost, who visited the area in 1825.
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.
Utah's bid for statehood was accepted January 4, 1896, after over forty years of initial request and struggles. The delay was largely due to 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 which was reluctant to admit a state the size of the proposed Deseret into the union, opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and observed that the region lacked the necessary 60,000 voters required for statehood. 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.