Utah: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Utah.

Alkali Ridge

Location: Monticello, San Juan County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This is a series of thirteen habitation sites along Alkali Mesa. Excavations helped clarify the development of Anasazi culture in the San Juan drainage, by defining the Pueblo II period (c. 900-1100). Local development from Basketmaker III (400-700) through Pueblo III (1100-1300) periods was shown to be a continuous growth influenced by neighboring peoples.

Danger Cave

Location: Wendover, Tooele County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Results of excavations at this site formed the basis for definition of a long-lived Desert culture which existed in the Great Basin area. The earliest cave stratus (c. 9500-9000 b.c.e.) is characterized by crude chipped stone artifacts; Zone II (c. 8000-7000 b.c.e.) by milling stones, basketry, and notched projectile points characteristic of the Desert culture; and Zones III, IV, and V (c. 7000 b.c.e.-500 c.e.) by materials showing an elaboration of the same culture.

Desolation Canyon

Location: Green River, Carbon County

Relevant issues: Western expansion

Statement of significance: John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), naturalist and explorer, led a Smithsonian expedition down the Colorado River in 1869 to the previously unexplored canyon, giving names to the natural features along the way.

Emigration Canyon

Location: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County

Relevant issues: Religion, western expansion

Statement of significance: Forms the natural passage through the Wasatch Mountains to Salt Lake Valley traversed by Brigham Young and his Mormon followers on the last leg of their journey from the Missouri Valley in 1847.

Fort Douglas

Location: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County

Relevant issues: Military history, western expansion

Statement of significance: This fort was established in 1862 on a site occupied by the army stationed here to maintain federal authority in the Mormon territory in the 1860’s. It also represented an effort to protect transcontinental telegraph lines, mail, and transportation routes.

Old City Hall

Location: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: Erected between 1864 and 1866, it served both as a municipal building and Utah territorial capitol until 1894. This site was a focal point for confrontations between federal officials and Mormon leaders.

Smoot House

Location: Provo, Utah County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: This was the residence of Reed O. Smoot (1862-1941) from 1892 until his death. Smoot, a United States senator (1903-1933), was a staunch advocate of protective tariffs. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff (1930) raised import duties to an all-time high and invited retaliation by other nations, actions which most scholars believe exacerbated the Great Depression.

Young Complex

Location: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County

Relevant issues: Political history, religion, western expansion

Statement of significance: Brigham Young (1801-1877), was the second president of the Mormon Church and colonizer of Utah. From 1852, when their construction began, until Young’s death, these buildings were closely associated with events in western expansion and settlement, and political, social, and religious movements of the era. During this time, Young was the predominant political and religious figure in Utah Territory. Young joined the Mormon Church in 1832 and by 1835 had become one of Joseph Smith’s Twelve Apostles; after Smith’s murder at the hands of a mob in 1844, Young became leader of the church. In 1846, he led the Mormons out of Nauvoo, Illinois, and ultimately conducted a group of his followers to a site near Great Salt Lake, then in Mexican Territory.

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