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Trails to you on your quest for your
Created: September 9, 1850
Statehood: January 4, 1896
mountains, lakes, and deserts were first beheld by man some 12,000
years ago. Through the millennia that followed, these Paleoindian
big-game hunters were succeeded by a number of other early culture
groups including the Desert Archaic, Anasazi, and Fremont. About a
thousand years ago, such Numic-speaking hunter-gatherers as the
Shoshones, Utes, Southern Paiutes, and Goshutes began moving into Utah,
and they were joined by an Athapaskan group, the Navajos.
White men came along much later. Their first significant incursion came
in 1776 as a party of Spanish explorers traveled much of the length of
present-day Utah. Led by Franciscan friars Dominguez and Escalante,
these intrepid men were scouting a northern route from Santa Fe to
Monterey and seeking to promote Christianity among the Indians. On
numerous occasions Escalante noted in his diary the natural beauty of
Utah's pristine landscape.
Nearly fifty years would elapse before the next group of whites came to
Utah. These were the mountain men searching for beaver. Such colorful
characters as Jim Bridger, Etienne Provost, Miles Goodyear, and
Jedediah Smith explored, trapped, mingled with the Indians, and gave
dozens of place names to the area's distinctive geographical features.
Then came the Mormons in 1847, questing for a religious sanctuary in
the remote West. Immigrating in large numbers, they laid out
communities, built homes and churches, established farms supported by
an irrigation system, skirmished with the native people, achieved
territorial status in 1850, and generally prospered. Non-Mormons came
too, especially after precious metals were discovered in the 1860s, and
they added diversification to Utah's society. By the time of statehood
in 1896, the total population approached a quarter of a million people.
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