Horse Racing at the Utah State Fair and Pari-Mutuel Betting


The Utah State Fair has been a cornerstone of Utah history even before Utah became a state in 1896. The original development of the fair was to promote “self-sufficiency” within agricultural production. The first fair, known as the “Deseret Fair,” was held in October 1856 under the supervision of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society.

After its opening, the fair received little financial help from the Territorial Legislature and moved to various locations. Nevertheless, it was able to persevere as an annual event and in 1902 the Legislature purchased 65 acres for the purpose of assisting the local community. (Utah State Fair History)

In this pursuit, the fair had become a favored part of the horse racing industry in Utah. Horse races were featured on a new track and a covered grandstand welcomed spectators dressed in their best attire to enjoy the event. By 1909, horse racing in Utah developed similar rules and regulations to that of other organizations around the country and continued to gain increased popularity. Despite the success of the horse racing industry, there was rising opposition against it. Track owners were considered biased in the handling of wagering and during that time bookmakers were hired by the track. Utah had no state agency to oversee and/or regulate bookmaking of the horse races. (Westergren, 7)

By 1913, the belief of “dishonesty” within horse racing clouded the industry and the Salt Lake Herald and the Deseret News wrote lengthy editorials in 1909 and 1913 about the problems horse racing caused and why it should be banned. Westergren summarizes the reasons they offered, including: “The ‘fixing’ of races by dishonest horse owners and jockeys who ‘fleeced the public’ rather than providing, good, honest sport; the loss of spectators’ money in wagering at the track, depriving honest local merchants of sales and profits; the rise in crime that generally accompanied racing meets; and the moral impact of horse race gambling on individuals and families.” By February 17, 1913, Governor William Spry signed an anti-racing law initiated by Charles R. Mabey. The legislature passed the bill after a month-long “acrimonious debate.” (Westergren, 8)

In February 19, 1925, the Salt Lake Telegram reported that Representative Charles Redd had proposed a bill to the Legislature to legalize pari-mutuel betting and horse racing under a new state horse racing commission. Redd believed that horse racing was “the sport of kings” and should be re-established in the Utah industry. The bill proposed that the governor appoint a three-member committee to control the pari-mutuel betting system under new regulations by the commission. The bill gained traction among the legislature, but in March 1925, according to the Salt Lake Telegram, Sen. Herbert S. Auerbach considered the races “to be the most vicious forms of gambling and would bring into the state the worst riffraff of its kind.” This quote came after Auerbach admitted to not being “strait-laced” and dipping his hand in betting on a few races at the track.


A large crowd ventures to the Utah State Fairpark to watch horse racing in 1907. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Mss C 275, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

Despite some pushback, the House Legislature passed the proposed bill on March 7, 1925, by a vote of 41 to 4 with ten members absent and by March 11, 1925, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 12 to 5 with three absent. The law was signed by Governor George Dern and became effective on May 12, 1925. For the first time in twelve years, the horse racing industry was revived and the pari-mutuel betting system was now legal. Many who approved the bill believed horse racing was a “clean” and “respectable” sport and that the new law would encourage breeders to produce competitive offspring, bringing in a renewed source of revenue into the state. (Westergren, 8-9)

By April 1925, the fairgrounds needed improvements. Fred Dahnken and William P. Kyne, well-known men in the horse racing industry who conducted successful races in Phoenix and Reno, proposed a deal with the state fair board and were approved for a $60,000 track deal to develop horse racing over the next ten years at the Utah State Fairgrounds. According to the Salt Lake Telegram, this agreement included improvements to the existing grandstand, paddocks, jockey room, horse stalls, and fences.


Two racers wait outside the fairgrounds in 1908. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Mss C 275, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

As opening day drew nearer, things were in full swing to prepare for the event. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on June 6, 1925, that a new chute would be added to the track, extending the length of the race to run up to a three-quarter-mile. Artisans put final touches on the barns, pari-mutuel booths were set up, and jockeys and exercise boys warmed up horses on the track. On June 8, the Salt Lake Telegram announced the program of the State Fair’s “Inaugural Day” and informed readers that July 2 would kick off the horse racing season with a $1,500 purse.

The Salt Lake Telegram reported on July 1:  “Several carloads of horses, in prime condition, arrived at the track today and yesterday and still more are due this evening which will swell the number of equine nobility to participate in the coming meeting to a full 400 head.” C. B. Irwin, owner of at least 21 thoroughbreds at the races, believed his top horse that he called the “route-goer,” Lizette, would be the one to beat. “He would run her from the car to the track, that’s how good he thinks Lizette is,” observed the newspaper. At last, July 2, one of the most anticipated days of the year, arrived and the Utah State Fair officially opened the races under the new Horse Racing Commission. A large number of people ventured to the track to take in and bet on some of the top thoroughbreds competing.

The new system controlled the odds of the race; no jockey, bookie or horse owner could “fix” the race ahead of time. The minimum wager was $2.00. Bettors could choose from three types of tickets to place on a horse: win, place, or show, similar to other races. According to Westergren, “This ticket system was universally used at all tracks where the pari-mutuel system was functioning. The rules placed no limit on the number of tickets a bettor could buy. He might put down money on every horse in the race if he chose. However, payoff came only if the participant held a ticket for a horse that finished in one of the first three positions.” Tickets purchased from a pari-mutuel betting machine were cashed in to verify receipt of the wager amount. Odds were based on the wagers at the track and the money collected from their bets, rather than fixed, random odds by a bookie. Therefore, bettors wagered against themselves. Once expenses were paid to the state and licensed track owner, the remainder of the pool was divided among those with winning tickets. (Westergren, 12, 10)

The Salt Lake Telegram reported on July 3, 1925, “Women dressed in their fine summer clothes added a touch of color to the scene. The pari-mutuel machines received a good play, a fact which testified by the clicking one constantly heard as wagers were made.” The day was considered an overall success, according to William P. Kyne, the general manager of the State Fair races. On July 3, 1925, the Salt Lake Telegram highlighted, “Running strongly to the front, Lizette never placed the issue to doubt and ran to victory with more than two lengths to spare,” living up to Irwin’s expectations. It was estimated that between 3,500 and 10,000 attended opening day, including Heber J. Grant, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Governor George H. Dern, Salt Lake City Mayor C. Clarence Nelsen, and several other government officials. (Westergren, 14)

Overall, the races were financially successful as they hoped; from May 12, 1925, through the end of 1926, it was reported that racing brought in an additional $129,646 in total revenue. Business and community support was at an all-time high. But by February 1927, public concern with ethical issues of horse racing and betting affected support for the sport. Just two years after the passage of Representative Redd’s bill, pari-mutuel betting would again be banned by the Utah Legislature after accusations of corruption. (Westergren, 15)


Horses and buggies race to an exciting finish in 1904. Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, Utah State Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

In March 1992, the Davis County Clipper reported that Utah horse breeders had filed a petition to get pari-mutuel betting on the ballot, which would give counties the right to decide whether or not they would approve pari-mutuel wagering at horse races in their jurisdiction. According to the article, “The funds collected in the pari-mutuel wagering will be used to support the public, promote economic growth and reduce taxes.” Even though the bill made it on the ballot, late opposition from the LDS church prevented the bill from passing.

It’s been 90 years since pari-mutuel horse race betting has been legal. However, the positive impact it had on Utah’s economy shows the progressive role it can play today. It’s reported that the Utah State Fairgrounds is in a state of distress. Brian Grimmett of KUER reported on March 27, 2014, that an audit by the Utah State Auditor found the Utah State Fair Corporation is highly subsidized compared to similar state fairs around the country: “The legislature has given the fair more than $6.8 million since 2004. Meanwhile, attendance has decreased almost every year since hitting a peak in 2008.” Many of these concerns are due to the crumbling infrastructure. Legislative auditors are concerned if a plan to update and improve fair park facilities isn’t in place, the State Fair will be destitute in a few years, reported Judy Fahys of KUER.

The horse racing/breeding industry is an established sport in Utah. Allowing pari-mutuel betting or a similar system would be an incentive for members of the community to get involved, support the races and generate a year-round source of income to update and maintain current buildings at the state fairgrounds. Pamela Wood of the Baltimore Sun reported on March 18, 2016, that a new track deal allowed off-track betting at the Maryland State Fair all year. It was projected to generate upward of $500,000 per year in revenue for the Maryland Jockey Club, horsemen, and building upkeep and maintenance. Passing a similar bill here in Utah would allow the state fair to create new sources of revenue while continuing the tradition of the fairgrounds for future generations.

Halie Berry graduated in May 2017 from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication with an emphasis in sports broadcasting.


“Huge Throng Thrilled as Lizette Wins Feature of Opening Day,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 3, 1925.

Track and Equipment is Ready for Opening Event,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1925.

Program Announced for the First Five Days’ Racing,” Salt Lake Telegram, June 8, 1925.

“Fair Grounds Race Track to Have ‘Chute Added,’” Salt Lake Telegram, June 6, 1925.

“Fair Grounds Track Deal is Made,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 15, 1925.

Senate Overrides Dern’s Veto of McCarty Election Measure; Utah Horse Racing Bill Passes,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 12, 1925.

“Solon Revives Horse Races in House Measure,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 19, 1925.

Horse Breeders Want Pari-Mutual Vote,” Davis County Clipper, March 31, 1992.

Our History.” Utah State Fair,

Fahys, Judy. “State Fair Park’s Future Remains Uncertain.” KUER, June 19, 2014,

Grimmett, Brian. “Utah State Fair Under-Attended and Over-Subsidized.” KUER, March 27, 2014,

Luhm, Steve. History of Horse Racing in Utah.” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2006

Westergren, Brian N. “Utah’s Gamble with Pari-Mutuel Betting in the Early Twentieth Century.” Utah Historical Quarterly 57, no. 1 (Winter 1989): 4-23.

Wood, Pamela. “Community, state fair reach deal on off-track betting at the fairgrounds,” Baltimore Sun, March 18, 2016,



University of Utah Among the Founders of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC)


The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) was originally formed in 1962 after three years of discussions among several university officials of what would be the founding schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young (BYU), New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. With this new cluster of teams all located in the Mountain Time Zone, the conference was set to establish itself on the national stage. Over the years, the WAC lost schools (Arizona and Arizona State) and gained schools (Colorado State, Texas-El Paso, San Diego State, Hawaii, and Fresno). The WAC was a success for thirty-four years despite having its ups and downs in athletic performance. In the late 1990s, the WAC tried to maintain pace with other conferences’ TV deals and revenue streams throughout the country and ended up losing almost everything.

The falling out of the original WAC started in 1994 after the announcement that the Southwest Conference would be disbanded. An article published in The Salt Lake Tribune on April 20, 1994, stated that the expansion had to happen for the WAC to improve. Otherwise, it would continue in the shadows of the true national power house conferences. The newly disbanded conference provided the perfect opportunity for expansion. But nobody was ready for the size of the expansion that was about to take place. In an attempt to catch up in the television ratings race that was happening throughout the country, the WAC attempted a TV market power grab. The WAC extended invitations to three schools from the newly disbanded conference (Rice, Texas Christian, and Southern Methodist) along with two schools from the Big West (San Jose State and Nevada Las Vegas) and one school from the Missouri Valley Conference (Tulsa). These new teams brought in the Bay Area, Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas TV markets.

Rice University basketball coach Willis Wilson stated to the Deseret News on April 23, 1994, that being in the WAC would provide a level playing field for his team for the first time because of all the sanctions that the old Southwest Conference had a tendency to accrue from the NCAA. These feelings of excitement to be included into the new WAC was a common theme among the incoming schools after being abandoned by or unhappy in their old conferences. However, the feelings did not extend to the longstanding members.

As pointed out by the Chicago Tribune, the new WAC had 16 teams compared to 12 in the next largest collegiate conference. These 16 teams covered four time zones, 4,000 miles, and nine states. This caused a strain on all of the existing members of the WAC to try to accommodate the sheer time and energy it took to travel to all of the new schools in the conference. With the increased stress of the expanded league school officials started to doubt if this was the best choice. In a May 27, 1998, article published in The Salt Lake Tribune, President Bernie Machen said, “I asked myself: ‘How do we fit into this organization? Is this the best place for the University of Utah to be for the future?’”


The Western Athletic Conference, formed in 1962, was successful for more than three decades.

With the expansion of the WAC, it was no longer possible to play everyone in a season. To fix this the conference came up with a revolutionary idea to have quadrants that would swap divisions every other year. This caused several long-standing rivalries to be split up. As described by Jeff Call in BYU Magazine, the loss of familiar teams on the schedule was a vocalized cause for unrenewed season tickets. Losing rivalries and tickets caused more tension between the older teams that were no longer playing in rivalry games every year, and the new teams that were geographically far away from the older schools. After two years of awkward quadrants, a revamp of the divisions/conference was a necessity.

According to Patrick Kinahan of The Salt Lake Tribune, athletic directors of the conference voted during the last week of April 1998 to disband the use of quadrants and split the conference into two separate divisions. Their vote passed 13-3 and was scheduled to be passed on to the presidents of each school, who would then vote among themselves the following month. However, the dissatisfaction of the older schools was simply too much. BYU athletic director Rondo Fehlberg told Joe Baird of The Salt Lake Tribune, “The problem was, nobody could come up with a way to say, ‘Here’s how it’s going to get better.’ All we could see were the costs going up and the revenues staying flat.” (“BYU, Utah”)

Spearheaded by the two Utah schools, the presidents of Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Utah, and Wyoming met at the Denver International Airport two weeks before the scheduled vote of divisions to find a new solution. The answer? Create a new conference again. Eight schools in total decided to split from the WAC. They notified the NCAA of their intention to form what would eventually be known as the Mountain West Conference (MWC) taking effect on June 30, 1999. (Edward) The eight defecting schools were: Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, Nevada Las Vegas, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah, and Wyoming.

After the abrupt rupture of the WAC many doubted how long the conference could survive. In the aftermath, Darren Wilcox of the Daily Universe said, “The only question remaining is how long the WAC can survive with leftovers. Sure, throw them in the microwave oven, stir them up a bit and they may look appetizing. They may even smell delicious. But they are leftovers just the same.” The leftover teams did lack an athletic prowess that was taken to the new conference. Due to this defect in arguably the most important trait of an athletic conference, many, including Joe Baird of The Salt Lake Tribune, theorized that the new WAC would require expansion and possibly include Utah State on the short list. (“WAC Defection”) Despite local support, Utah State University was not included in the first expansion after the split, citing market size as the cause for dismissal.

After being in the shadows on the national stage, the WAC attempted to expand the league to an unheard-of 16-team league. The loss of rivalry games paired with more difficult logistics to accommodate the size of the league ultimately resulted in concerned and unhappy members. Taking the lead, both BYU and Utah sought to rid themselves of these concerns and decided to create a league of their own, thus removing the league that they had helped create from the state of Utah.

Today, 19 years after their split from the WAC into the MWC, both BYU and Utah find themselves yet again in different conferences. BYU left for an independent football bid and landed in the West Coast Conference for all other sports. Utah accepted an invitation to the Pacific Athletic Conference. The WAC found its way back into Utah by way of an eight-year stint with Utah State from 2005 to 2013. Currently, Utah Valley University is among its full members. The WAC has acted as a steppingstone for three universities in Utah, and while all three have gone on to bigger and better opportunities, the conference still stands as a symbol of opportunity for student athletes across the western United States.

Alex Pagoaga is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in journalism.


John McFarland, “SMU, TCU, Rice Ecstatic to be in Expanded WAC,” Deseret News, April 23, 1994.

Dick Rosetta, “Expansion Gamble Will Make WAC Bigger,” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 20, 1994, C1.

Darren Wilcox, “WAC leftovers won’t survive alone,” The Daily Universe, May 27, 1998.

James Edward, “Utes Seceding From WAC,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, May 27, 1998, 9.

Joe Baird, “WAC Defection Might Open a Spot for Utah State,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, C6.

Joe Baird, “BYU, Utah Make a ‘Bold Move’ – Abandon the WAC,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, C1.

Patrick Kinahan, “WAC Collapses Under Its Own Weight,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1998, A1.

Stephen Nidetz, “8 Schools Defect From WAC to Form League Of Their Own,” The Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1998.

“Another Wacky Move?” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1998, A10.

Call, Jeff. “The Great Divide: BYU and Seven Others Leave WAC.” Brigham Young Magazine, Fall 1998.

University of Utah Professor Helped Shape Early Internet


David Cannon Evans may not be the first, second, or even third household name one thinks of when considering celebrated communication innovations. As it turns out, Evans was a key player in helping pioneer what came to be known as the Internet. His work is deeply rooted in Salt Lake City’s very own backyard: the University of Utah.

Evans was born February 24, 1924, in Salt Lake City to David W. and Beatrice C. Evans. (Jensen, 1996) His father was the leader of an advertising firm and his family was described to have had generations of involvement in the newspaper business. (Jensen, Evans, Box 104, Folder 35) Evans married Beverley “Joy” Frewin in 1947 and together they had seven children: Anne, Peter, Gayle, Katherine, David F., Douglas, and Susan. (Jensen, Markoff) Shortly after his marriage, Evans graduated from the University of Utah in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. (Jensen, 1996) He later received his doctorate in the same field from the university in 1953. (Jensen, 1996) That year, Evans was hired as a senior physicist and engineering director for Bendix Corporation, where he would spend the next several years. (Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) In just a few years, Evans would engage in government work and academic research that would mark him as a significant contributor to Utah communication history.

As a military defense response to the 1957 Sputnik satellite launched by the Soviet Union, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed a task force of the U.S. Department of Defense named Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), sometimes referred to as DARPA by adding “Defense” at the beginning. (Harvey, 2009) DARPA conducted scientific research in the field of computing and one of its branches, the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), had been specifically responsible for federally funding these projects. (Harvey, 2009) By 1966, a federally funded ARPA network, nicknamed ARPANET, had been conceived to focus on the skill sets of four U.S. Universities. (Harvey, Hauben) Salt Lake Tribune journalist Tom Harvey wrote an extensive article in December 2009 reporting on the history of the Internet. He described ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, as being “a network that would turn computers into communication devices, not just data crunchers.”

Harvey described this network in retrospect but the IPTO ostensibly noticed interesting productions also taking place from within ARPANET. Of particular interest would be the development of electronic communication spaces computer scientists had created — these could be described as the equivalent to early versions of email and chat rooms. However, this early form of electronic communication had been restricted to use on just one computer. (Evans, Box 5) This is why the concept of “time-sharing” was especially relevant. Time-sharing was the idea that electronic communication, such as email, could be extended for use on more than just one computer at a time and was a point of interest for Evans’ early research. (Harvey, Evans, Box 5)

David Evans. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

David Evans had a talent for communicating his ideas to graduate students, colleagues, and industry leaders. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Evans joined the University of Utah as a faculty member in 1962, but he had taught previously at the University of California at Berkeley. (Markoff, Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) At Berkeley, Evans had engaged in early ARPA work but he needed support to effectively pursue his specific research interests. (Harvey, 2009) He was fortunate to have gained this support from Ivan Sutherland, a Harvard scholar and director of IPTO in 1964, who helped Evans gain federal funds to sustain ARPANET research. (Harvey, 2009) This was a notable feat, as it would establish a relationship and mark both men professionally as they eventually partnered to found Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation, a private computer research business in Salt Lake City. (Harvey, 2009) Evans would go on to juggle his professional commitments as a faculty researcher and business leader throughout his career.

Evans returned to Utah to found and chair the university’s first Computer Science Department housed within the College of Electrical Engineering in 1966. (Harvey, Evans, Box 1, Folder 2) In December 1969, the department had connected to ARPANET as the fourth and final “node” of the original research network before it later expanded to other parts of the country. (Harvey, ARPANET) It was the only “node” uniquely situated outside of the state of California. The other three claimed their spots at University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Stanford Research Institute. (Harvey, ARPANET)

Each of the institutions housing the four “nodes” had a particular focus or distinguished branch of the ARPA research. The California schools were selected to study the following respectively: network measurement center (UCLA), network information center (SRI), and Culler-Fried interactive mathematics (UCSB). (Hauben, 2006) The University of Utah’s initial responsibility was to study computer graphics through the network, specifically a technique known as “hidden line removal” — a fitting match to Evans’ expertise and assumable passion for visuals and virtual memory. (Hauben, Markoff)

It appears that Evans was a highly organized scholar and that he established clear research goals for his work. He also had a talent for communicating his ideas with different groups of people. These specific and technical goals can be summarized and condensed into one phrase that Evans included in several of his abstracts, speeches, lectures, and manuscripts — he simply aimed for “improving communication” between machines and people. (Evans, Box 5, Folder 17) Evans presumably strived to allocate more creative control to humans when communicating with machines. He worked on displaying pictures on a computer screen, hence, potentially communicating unique messages depending on the creator and layout. In a 1966 speech to audience members of an educational symposium, Evans referred to John Von Neumann, a 1940s-era computer scholar, and pointed out that efforts for “extending the human intellect” were unsuccessful and should not necessarily be finite but rather a “working partnership” between computers and people could, and potentially should, be improved. (Evans, Box 5, Folder 17)

In addition to large audiences of professionals and academics, it can be said Evans also attracted a loyal group of students benefiting from his mentorship. The same year Utah joined the ARPA network in 1969, John E. Warnock, an engineering student, wrote a technical report on computer image research that was being conducted. In a section near the beginning of the report, before becoming heavily saturated with technical details, the young student dedicated a few sentences to warmly express gratitude for his mentors and supporters, including Dr. Evans. “The many hours [they] have spent with me in discussion have provided the intellectual stimulus required to carry on this research,” Warnock proclaimed. (Evans, Box 89, Folder 7)

Notably, a few of Evans’ graduate students went on to establish successful careers in computer science. They include: John E. Warnock, cofounder of Adobe Systems Corporations Inc. and incidentally the name for one of the two engineering buildings residing on the University of Utah campus; Edwin Catmull, cofounder of Pixar Animation Studios; Alan Ashton, cofounder of the WordPerfect Corporation; and Alan Kay, once a scientist at the Walt Disney Corporation. (Markoff, 1998)

Evans evidently impacted his students and colleagues in the world of academia but it is possible he influenced other industries outside of his field and area of expertise as well. He had captured the attention of business and communication industries outside of computer science and they wanted to speak with Evans about his work. On February 12, 1971, Evans composed a letter of advice to the operations research manager of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in which he related certain aspects of his research in computer graphics as being useful for the automated production of a newspaper such as theirs. He explained how special computer-graphics equipment might make for a more efficient production process as well as give a person more creative control in the layout of the paper, including visuals such as advertisements. (Evans, Box 104, Folder 35) This letter, found in an unremarkable grey box within the Special Collections department of the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott library, could serve as evidence of Evans’ impact on communication history outside of his field. This begs the question as to whether any other industries experienced ripple effects of his ideas and knowledge, and, if so, what were they?

Is it possible that ARPANET researchers could have imagined that their rapidly growing work would stretch beyond their labs to help shape a fluid platform for today’s vast Internet uses? What started out as a secured U.S. Defense project continues to morph into a public resource and medium of discourse for living in the 21st century. Although not everyone is on the Internet and its uses vary, Evans’ early notions of creative manipulation of machines reveals itself in blogs, websites, research, news, and other online communication taking place at every moment of every day.

On October 3, 1998, Evans lost his life at the age of 74 to Alzheimer’s disease — a disease known for potentially consuming a person’s memory, whereas Evans spent his entire professional career studying that of computers. (Markoff, 1998) He was survived by his wife, Joy, and seven children at the time of his death. (Markoff, 1998)

Certainly, Evans could be remembered as a man ahead of his time. It is fair to say he was a visionary, an idealist with heightened intelligence and the acquired skills of an experienced communicator. Essentially, he was an important Utah figure in Internet history who had experimented with language and communication in the form of pictures and computers — a legacy that remains relevant today.

Abby M. Reyes is a senior at the University of Utah. She will complete her Bachelor of Science Honors degree in May 2015 having majored in communication studies and minored in health.


David C. Evans (1969). Graphical man/machine communications: November 1969 AD708483. University of Utah, National Technical Information Service.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 1: Personal Correspondences (1969-1982); folder 2: March, 1973—April, 1974, Special Collections and Archives University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 5: University of Utah and Speeches; folder 1-5: University of Utah, Correspondence (1967-1987), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 5: University of Utah and Speeches; folder 17-28: Speeches and Lectures (1966-1985), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 2: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Correspondence (1970-1977), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 3: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Proposal and Draft (1976), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 89: United States Government; folder 7-8: Department of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency (1969), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

David C. Evans papers, Ms 625, Box 104: Affiliated Companies and Customers; folder 35: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (1971), Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The David C. Evans Papers, P0452, Box 1, Manuscripts Division, Special Collections, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Harvey, Tom, “U. of U. helped give birth to Internet,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 19, 2009.

Hauben, Michael and R. Hauben. “Behind the Net: The Untold History of the ARPANET and Computer Science,” Chapter 7, Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet (2006).

Jensen, Mark. “Inventory of the David C. Evans papers, 1958-1987,” Northwest Digital Archive (NWDA) (1996).

Markoff, John. “David Evans, Pioneer in Computer Graphics, Dies at 74,” The New York Times, October 12, 1998.

The ARPANET Project,” ARPANET collection, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.


Lagoon, the Roller Coaster, and the Kilee King Investigation, 1989


In the late 1800s, Utah’s beloved amusement park, today known as Lagoon, was located in a different area along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, along with other “recreational resorts.” Not only was Lagoon’s location different back in the day, but its name was too. The resort was called “Lake Park,” and was open to the public on July 15, 1886. “It was one of the most attractive watering places in the West.” (127 Years) However, in 1893, the Great Salt Lake began to recede, leaving this once wonderful paradise surrounded by “a sticky, blue mud that was miserable to swimmers and guests.” (127 Years) This nasty inconvenience, among other reasons, basically forced Lake Park to switch locations and relocate to its current address in Farmington in 1896. The new home of this park was situated on the banks of a nine-acre lagoon, two and one-half miles inland from its original location, providing the park with its new name: Lagoon. (127 Years)

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, was popular in 1896. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The same year of its relocation, Lagoon presented its first thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, which is similar to today’s Log Flume ride. Later, in 1921, one of the most well known rides of this amusement park was finally introduced and “the roar of the Roller Coaster began.” (127 Years) “Almost 90 years old,” Arave writes, “the Lagoon Roller Coaster remains one of the most popular attractions at the park and is one of only a few wooden coasters between Denver and the West Coast.”

According to Lagoon’s press kit, a fire in 1953 destroyed the front of this coaster. It was rebuilt the following year, and sections of the Roller Coaster have been rebuilt each year since then. In that same press kit, Lagoon ensured the ride was, and would be, safe for the community. “The tracks are walked and thoroughly checked over each day before being put into use for the public.” (127 Years) As true as this may be, there have still been a few accidents, even fatal incidents, which occurred on this very ride. However, it seems that in all of those situations, Lagoon was not at fault. Arave writes that those deaths were caused by the “patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” In fact, the odds of being killed on one of these rides are about two chances in 43 million. (Arave) Rep. Blaze Wharton, D-Salt Lake, “compliments Lagoon’s safety record and doesn’t think, given information about the recent accident, that inspections could have prevented the deaths.” (Deseret News, June 25)

In the specific case of Kilee King, a 13-year-old girl of Bountiful who died on the infamous wooden Roller Coaster in 1989, investigation proved that no criminal negligence was involved. (Rosebrock, June 14) According to a June 29 story in the Deseret News, the Farmington police detective who investigated the incident found that the death of this teenage girl was a “fluke combination of her physique, actions and the laws of physics.” (Rosebrock, June 29) King was a slim, 5 feet 3 inches tall girl who only weighed 71 pounds. “In effect, it was a quirk of physics, combined with what the girl did and her height and weight,” said Detective Sgt. Jeff Jacobson after investigation of the incident. (Rosebrock, June 29)

Deseret News reporter Joel Campbell wrote on June 11 that Kilee King died at the park after falling from the front seat of the ride’s carts. “Witnesses said that the girl stood up from beneath a locked retraining bar, lost her balance and fell to a grassy area beneath the coaster.” According to that same article, the coaster had just gone over the curve of its second hill when she lost contact with the cart. The girl pushed herself up against the safety bar as the cart was at the peak of the hill, raised her arms above her head and lifted up off her seat as the cart took its ordinary “downward plunge.” The momentum from her forward and upward motion caused her to slip from under the bar, falling 35 feet to the ground. (Deseret News, July 29) The South Davis Fire Department officials said the girl was pronounced dead before any emergency medical personnel had arrived. (Deseret News, June 11)

The victim was the daughter of J. Wayne and Susan King. After the terrible incident, Susan filed a lawsuit against the amusement park, charging it with negligence. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reports on July 29, 1989, Mrs. King stated that the design and operation of the park’s roller coaster was dangerous and that the lack of sufficient safety restraints is what had allowed her daughter to be thrown from the ride. Lagoon officials choose to not disclose much information about the lawsuits filed against the park, but according to Detective Jacobson’s findings, this was not the case. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reporter Don Rosebrock, King had a season pass to Lagoon and had ridden the roller coaster multiple times prior to the deadly accident.

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

A postcard view of Lagoon. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Being a part of the LDS church, King’s passing was a topic of discussion during one of her church’s meetings. “We discussed the fact that her spirit had left her body, that she was still living…. We explained she will continue to live and they [young people whom she was friends with] should not be fearful and they would see her again,” stated Bishop Sherman Fuller, in an article written by Deseret News on June 12. “There was an air of peace.” Friends and neighbors remembered King as “vivacious, energetic and a natural leader.” She was thought of as someone whom everybody liked. (Deseret News, June 12) She was the type of person who did not care about what others had, “maybe they weren’t as popular or energetic. She tried to bring those people forward. She tried to involve them,” said Fuller in the article. (Deseret News, June 12) One of her “lifetime” friends, Katie Gardiner, was one of the people whom she “went out of her way to make feel accepted by a group of friends.” (Deseret News, June 12) Another one of King’s friends, Jeremy Christoffersen, said, “Next year in eighth grade I will think about her a lot and that she is gone. We spend a lot of time together. I used to go to Lagoon a lot with her. We went to a restaurant as a presidency. She was always laughing and smiling…. I still don’t understand what happened on the roller coaster.” (Deseret News, June 12)

The park itself remained opened after this accident, but the ride was shut down for inspection. (Rosebrock, June 14) However, “two studies, using research by doctors, scientists, astronauts and engineers, say amusement park rides are very safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21) J. Clark Robinson, a worker at Lagoon for 27 years who was president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, said that the studies “have brought to light scientific proof that our rides are safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21)

People should not worry about accidents when visiting Lagoon, because cases such as Kilee King’s are very uncommon. Over the 127 years that Lagoon has been running and available to the public, there have been 16 deaths overall, including incidents not involving any of the rides themselves (such as heart attacks). Nearly half of those were caused by “the patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” (Arave) So it is, however, important to know how to keep yourself safe when riding these rides, in order to avoid a tragic accident. There are just some things that cannot be controlled by a safety restraint.

Johanna M. Melik is a junior at The University of Utah, majoring in mass communication.


Joel Campbell, “OFFICIALS PROBING DEATH OF GIRL, 13, WHO FELL FROM ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 11, 1989.

Joel Campbell, “KILEE WAS HAPPY AND CARING GIRL FRIENDS RECALL,” Deseret News, June 12, 1989.

Don Rosebrock and Joel Campbell, “BOUNTIFUL GIRL’S DEATH NOT THE 1st ON LAGOON’S WOODEN ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 13, 1989.


Joel Campbell and Ray Eldard, “LEGISLATOR WANTS INSPECTIONS OF CARNIVAL, PARK RIDES,” Deseret News, June 25, 1989.



Lynn Arave, “Lagoon questions data on injuries,” Deseret News, August 15, 2000.

Lee Davidson,“2 studies declare roller coaster safe,” Deseret News, January 21, 2003.

Arave, Lynn. “It’s About Fun: A History of Lagoon Amusement/Theme Park.” The Mystery Of Utah.

127 Years of Family Fun!” Lagoon Corp. Media Resources.


The Salt Lake Tribune’s Coverage of the Cancellation of ‘Brokeback Mountain’


Ang Lee’s 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, portrayed  two cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger), who showcased their “forbidden” love. The film created controversy all over the world — including in Utah.

According to ads in the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune, Brokeback Mountain was scheduled to play at 12:45 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2006, at Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons. But the previous night, the film was pulled from its schedule and replaced by another film after the owner of Megaplex 17, Larry H. Miller, learned that the film was about two gay cowboys. The film’s cancellation brought up public debate all over Utah. From January 6, 2006, to January 31, 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the cancellation showed both sides of the controversy and the power of communication as it shapes public debate.


The Brokeback Mountain vs. Larry H. Miller controversy began during a KCPW-FM interview with Miller and Jonathan Brown. The interview on the Salt Lake City public radio station was done on Thursday, January 5, 2006, the day before the film was released in theaters, and aired the next day. An article by Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 7 discussed the interview between Miller and Brown. According to the article, Brown said during the interview, “Miller was unaware of the storyline of Brokeback Mountain … until Brown described it to him Thursday.”

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brandon Griggs also discussed Miller and Brown’s interview in his article, published January 11. The article said Miller’s initial response to booking the film was because the film had received seven Golden Globe nominations. Miller saw this as a sign of its “potentially broad appeal.” Toward the end of the radio interview Miller stated,“It is possible that the content of this [film] … is offensive enough to a large enough segment of the population that this is one that slipped by our screening process. Maybe I’ve been a little naive and not paid proper attention to it and let it slip through the cracks. If I have, then I made a mistake.”

Nothing in the interview made it sound like Miller would take matters to the extreme and completely cancel the film before it began playing. The interview made it sound like Miller would first see how audiences reacted to the film. If there was a negative response, then he would pull the film from showing. However, two hours after the interview, Miller canceled the show from playing.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley, appeared . Used with permission.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Pat Bagley, appeared in the paper on January 10, 2006. Used with permission.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s website posted an update on the cancellation shortly after the decision to pull the movie from theaters appeared. The update, posted on January 6, stated, “The Megaplex 17 announced it was pulling the film late Thursday afternoon. The change-of-heart came too late to remove the title from the theater’s ads in today’s Salt Lake Tribune”

The update was the beginning of a media frenzy that included numerous editorials, columns, and letters to the editor. Of the articles published, most focused on Miller’s lack of response, how the film was doing in award season, the business aspect of the cancellation, the world’s reaction to the cancellation, and what the film was about — love. The issues at large, such as morals, civil liberties, and press bias were brought up through countless letters to the editors.

Means and McFarland were among the first journalists to report on the cancellation. In their article, published January 7 and titled, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” they discussed the details of the cancellation and what Focus Feature (the production company of the film) had to say about it. The article also interviewed Carol Adams about her reactions to the film’s cancellation. The local woman wanted to see the film and was saddened to learn that it had been canceled.

Articles also discussed  negative public relations, Miller’s continuous silence on the issue, and of course the world’s reaction. According to Lesley Mitchell’s article, published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 12, “Miller’s silence has helped give the story international appeal.” Another article by Griggs, published January 15 and titled, “‘Brokeback Mountain’: Why all the fuss?,” discussed the huge reaction to the film and the cancellation. This article is the most blunt of any article published in The Salt Lake Tribune because Griggs stated the hard truth on why the film was pulled from the schedule: “Men having sex.” Griggs explained that the homosexual relationship was the reason why people were getting so upset. Griggs also addressed hypocritical morals when  he wrote, “How is a gay love story more morally offensive than other movies — such as ‘Hostel,’ a horror film that shows sadists fulfilling their depraved fantasies by paying to torture other people; or the stoner comedy ‘Grandma’s Boy,’ which features drug use in almost every scene — now playing at Miller’s theaters?” His questions and bluntness were met with countless letters on the matter by Utah’s citizens.

Similarly, Griggs’ article, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” published January 11, discussed the world’s reaction and Heath Ledger’s. Ledger was quoted as saying, “It’s all just really unnecessary” and “Personally I don’t think the movie is [controversial], but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society.” Griggs also reported, “Articles about the snub have made international headlines. NBC’s Jay Leno and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann joked about it on the air Monday night.” Steven Oberbeck’s article, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” published January 13, quoted Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think-tank in Salt Lake City. Mero stated, “Considering the conservative nature of our population, I’m sure a lot of people think: We’ll, it’s [Millers’] business and he’s entitled to do with it what he wants.”

The cancellation was something to talk about, and Utah’s citizens made sure their voices were heard. The letters were short, blunt, and very opinionated. One Salt Lake Tribune reader, Karla G. McGuigan, said the decision was an “encroachment into American citizens’ rights to civil liberties.” However, another reader, Bret A. Stapley, responded with, “Larry H. Miller is a private business owner who decides what is best for his own business. This is not a case of ‘government censorship’ or a civil liberty violation.”

Robert Seifert also questioned Larry H. Miller’s morals in a letter titled, “Miller’s moral compass.” Seifert, like Brandon Griggs, brought  up the hypocrisy of playing Hostel and not Brokeback Mountain. Seifert stated, “To sum up, pulling ‘Brokeback Mountain’ tells young people that being gay is unacceptable, so not pulling the movie ‘Hostel’ (being shown in the same theater complex) sends the message that torturing and mutilating other human beings is all right.” Harry A. Rodes disagreed in his letter, titled, “Morally correct decision”: “I would like to call on moral-minded people in Utah to actively support Miller’s businesses, especially his movie theater, to show the state and the country that there are still some people who have not given in to societal pressure to accept that which is immoral. He should be praised, not condemned.”

Readers also began saying that The Salt Lake Tribune was biased toward the gay community. Morgan T. Beach wrote in a letter titled, “Tribune’s gay bias,” published January 17: “I wonder how  many favorable articles and commentaries you would devote toward a movie of the same caliber, romanticizing the polygamous lifestyle.” The same day another Salt Lake Tribune reader, JoAnn Nokes, sent in a letter titled, “Get on with Life.” Nokes wrote, “Decisions are made daily. So accept it and let’s get on with life.”

Though The Salt Lake Tribune did indeed publish positive reviews for the film, it was not the only newspaper in Utah to do so. According to a journal article published in August 2008 by Brenda Cooper and Edward C. Pease, Brokeback Mountain was rated positively by several Utah newspapers. The article stated, “Despite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) position that homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals may be excommunicated, the church-owned daily newspaper, the Deseret Morning News, gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah — home of the LDS-owned Brigham Young University — also reviewed Brokeback positively.”


Utah’s reaction to Larry H. Miller’s decision to pull Brokeback Mountain from his theatre was one of great debate. The divide between Utah’s views on heterosexuality, ethics, morals, and business standards was showcased through the great response of Utah’s citizens. In 2009, Cooper and Pease published another article on the topic of Brokeback Mountain. The article, published in Western Journal of Communication, discussed how newspapers framed the controversy over the film. Cooper and Pease’s study found that of the 188 Brokeback-Miller items published during January 6, 2006-February 2006, 55 percent opposed the cancellation of the film and 45 percent  defended the cancellation. The study also found that 153 letters were published statewide. Of the 153, 48 percent were pro-Miller, and 52 percent were anti-Miller. Of those 153 letters, 34 were published in The Salt Lake Tribune. My research, along with Cooper and Pease’s research, proves that Utah was greatly divided on the issue. People discussed the film’s cancellation and topics related to Miller’s decision, including morals, business practices, civil liberties, press bias, and the amount of attention devoted to the issue.

Miranda A. Knowles is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in communication and minoring in sociology.


JoAnn Nokes, “Get on with life,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 17, 2006, A8.

Morgan T. Beach, “Tribune’s gay bias,” The Salt Lake Tribune. January 17, 2006, A8.

Brandon Griggs, “Why all the fuss?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, D1.

Harry A. Rodas, “Morally correct decision,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, AA2.

Robert Seifert, “Miller’s moral compass,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A12.

Steven Oberbeck, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A1.

Brandon Griggs, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006, A1.

Bret A. Stapley, “Simple as That,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Lesley Mitchell, “Media pros say silence on pulling gay movie gives the story legs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Karla G. McGuigan, “Denial of Civil liberties,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 10, 2006.

Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2006, A1.

“Update: Miller’s theater pulls Brokeback mountain,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 2006.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “Framing Brokeback Mountain: How the popular press corralled the “Gay Cowboy Movie.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 25, no. 3 (Aug. 2008): 249-273.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “The Mormons Versus the ‘Armies of Satan’: Competing Frames of Morality in the Brokeback Mountain Controversy in Utah Newspapers.” Western Journal of Communication 73, no. 2 (April-June 2009): 134-156.

Salt Lake City and the Economy, One Year after the Stock Market Crash


Salt Lake City has a rich economic history that dates from the time it was settled in July 1847. That history is discussed in detail in the July 25, 1914, issue of The Salt Lake Tribune. When Latter-day Saints settlers arrived from the East, they quickly found that the Salt Lake Valley had a large reserve of copper just west of the Wasatch Front.

Salt Lake Tribune article published in November 1919 observed that mines quickly sprang up in the Salt Lake Valley and became an asset to Utah’s economy.

A view of Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City, where most businesses were located. The image was made shortly before the onset of the Great Depression.

A view of Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City, where most businesses were located. The image was made shortly before the onset of the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Today the economy of the Salt Lake Valley is still strong, but has changed drastically from the mining town it once was. Looking at downtown Salt Lake City today, one sees high-rise business buildings and large universities. Now one of the largest industries in the Salt Lake Valley is the banking industry, with the Chase tower and Wells Fargo tower located downtown. The economy is strong and the unemployment rate is low. But Salt Lake wasn’t always one of the economically strongest cities in America. There was a time, in fact, when it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the US, and poverty was at an all-time high. It all began in 1929, when the stock market crashed at the end of October.

Before the stock market crash, most people were either employed by the mining companies just west of Salt Lake or worked in factories in Salt Lake. But what was the city like a year after the market crash? We know that the effects of the stock market crash weren’t really felt in the first couple of months. Many commented on the stock volatility, but many were optimistic at first. Then after several months, the full effects of the crash were realized. We will take a look at what Salt Lake City economy was like a full year after the 1929 stock market crash on Wall Street.

One of the many mines that were located just west of Salt Lake City. They were the driving force of the economy in the 1920s, but saw difficult times in the '30s. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

One of the many mines that were located just west of Salt Lake City. They were the driving force of the economy in the 1920s, but saw difficult times in the 1930s. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

By the end of 1930, the stock market crash had reached all parts of the United States. Utah and the Salt Lake Valley had been hit especially hard. Their main source of employment had come to a halt; the coal industry and agricultural industry had decreased dramatically during that year. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on March 20, 1930, that the poor economy, plus several fatal mine explosions, caused the coal companies to lay off a large portion of their workers. Making matters worse, the agricultural industry In the Salt Lake Valley had decreased by almost half, causing even more local lay offs.

So how bad was it a year after the great depression hit? Some newspapers were optimistic regarding the stock market, claiming that stocks were on a rise and that jobs were being created every day. (Walzer) The reality was quite different, though. An article published in the Salt Lake Telegram exactly one year after the crash tells the story of a man who killed himself and his two sons by jumping off a building. This man had lost his wife the year before, and shortly afterward he lost his job as a tailor and never found a new job. Out of desperation, he committed suicide. While this was not representative of every situation in the Salt Lake Valley, it is a good reflection of the disparity many of the residence were in.

In addition, the coal industry was struggling and the banking industry slowed. (Thomas) In the first year alone, more than 25 banks failed. One particular failure that was a hard hit on the economy in Utah was the Ogden First National Bank. It was one of the largest banks in Utah at the time, reported the Salt Lake Telegram. (August 31, 1934)

The Walker Bank building, built in 1912 and located in the heart of downtown. The bank struggled during the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library.

The Walker Bank building, built in 1912 and located in the heart of downtown. The bank struggled during the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

At the year mark the Depression was in full effect in Salt Lake City and the whole valley. Unemployment was at an all-time high, reaching over 10 percent, according to Dean May. That statistic was one of the highest in the country, and was still rising. This was one of the lowest points in Salt Lake City’s history. Although unemployment was at an all-time high, there were several reports of local stimuli as well as government-assisted stimuli that were put in place. On October 30, 1930, the Davis County Clipper reported construction of a new office building. Its purpose was to offer office space at a cheaper rate than that of a similar building in Salt Lake City and thus stimulate small business in Salt Lake City and encourage the employment of more people. This is not the only case of artificial stimuli being implemented in the Salt Lake Valley. In December 1930, the Clipper reported that the federal government was getting involved. The proposed project was a new waterway system to be put in Salt Lake City to supply clean water to residents. This stimulus project was supposed to employ up to a thousand new government employees.

Alexander writes that by the one-year anniversary of the stock market crash, things were steadily worsening. The first year there was an additional 5.1 percent of unemployed. That doesn’t sound too bad, but the jump from the first year and the second year was 21.9 percent unemployment rate. The government knew it needed to get involved. Unfortunately, the federal government was spread thin at this point, so most of the burden fell on county government and private relief. At the time one of the largest groups in Salt Lake City was people of the LDS faith. Dean May wrote that in Salt Lake City at the time, about half the residents were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of the aid came from the church’s relief programs. Over 70 percent of the families receiving welfare from the LDS relief programs were not of that faith.

Salt Lake City was one of the hardest-hit cities in America. The stock market crash affected not just individual families but also whole communities. The first year was a hard year and it only got harder thereafter. Dozens of banks shut down, farms went out of business, and the mining industry suffered. The unemployment rate was growing and people were in the pit of despair. Welfare programs were just coming to the rescue, but help was hard to find. The year after the great Wall Street crash was a tough time for people in the Salt Lake Valley — and the worst was yet to come as the Great Depression took hold.

Joey Kingston is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in marketing with a minor in media communications. He expects to graduate in spring 2015.


“Cement firm sues Ogden state bank,” The Salt Lake Telegram, August 31, 1934, 5.

Edward Pickard, “Inland water way projects being pushed thorough to give jobs to unemployed,” Davis County Clipper, December 5, 1930, 3.

“New office building announced,” Davis County Clipper, October 31, 1930, 6.

Elmer Walzer, “Stock values climb fast as trading ends,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1930, 6.

“Man kills self after two attempts fail,” The Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1930, 5.

“Mine inspector blames lack of supervision in fatal mine explosion,” The Salt Lake Telegram, March 20, 1930, 8.

“Banker defends mining industry,” The Salt Lake Tribune, November 14, 1919, 2.

“Pioneer day celebration is big success,” The Salt Lake Tribune, July 25, 1914, 4.

Alexander, Thomas. Utah, The Right Place. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2003.

May, Dean. Utah: A People’s History. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1987.


Snow Canyon Project and the 1977 Drought


The people who resided in the desert state known as Utah had an arid hit in the year of 1977. The Color Country Spectrum reported on February 27, 1977, that Gov. Scott Matteson had encouraged residents to prepare for the drought and urged the state to act as a team. Matheson asked Utah cities to help find a solution for the water shortage, particularly during the dry summer months.

Although the entire state experienced a water shortage that year, southern Utah — and the city of St. George — was particularly affected by the drought.

The city’s residents had saved water because of the shortage. The Water and Power Board enacted strict rules regarding water usage. Even so, the dryness still came.

St. George’s main water source was from natural springs and wells, but with the dry weather, the sunny city worried whether there would be enough water to last through summer. People feared that irrigation and agriculture would be hit the hardest. The Color Country Spectrum reported on February 24 that with the growth of the city and community it gave a great reason to also have the water usage shortened. The water development was worked on and was combined with the sewer project.

Fred Rendell, author of Making the Desert Bloom, wrote that “The Water and Power board were on a constant alert which made them ration the water.” (Rendell, 225) With the water disappearing, it had left residents with fear of water depletion. The almost waterless city had to find a solution to the shortage.

In fact, because of the dry weather, many residents had lost their jobs. But, the drought gave residents a new task. The Color Country Spectrum reported on March 4 that locals were asked to help in any way that they could. Ideas included limiting water usage, restricting the use of sprinklers, using water only for essential needs, and finding better sources of water. The residents would determine how much water they would have been able to use. This had made the residents look harder for water sources. The best idea was to go to local ponds, reservoirs, and lakes.

According to a story published in the Color Country Spectrum on February 24, ”The first place to drill for water was from a golf course in the sunny city. This would give hope to the residents and would save them about 88 million gallons of water a year.”

The paper reported on February 20  that “the main source was found by using pipes, from a natural spring.”

The project had begun by using aquifers. Rendell wrote in his book, “In the canyon water had been discovered. The Water, Power Company had put aquifers in the Navaho and Kayenta rock formations.” (Rendell, 445) This was an anticipated answer to come for the drought problems. Rendell also wrote that a University of Utah professor, Harry Goode, “was assured by the geology that the water could be found.” An employee with the U.S. Geological Survey also was optimistic that water would be located “beneath the floor of the canyon.”

Drilling ensued and five wells ultimately were constructed to feed “two giant underground storage tanks.” The Color Country Spectrum reported on March 4 that putting the tank in Snow Canyon Park created a water supply for residents of St. George.


Constant reminders to save and use water wisely were difficult for residents of St. George. However, the city pulled through, in part due to hard work and a team effort. This feeling of coming together helped to create an atmosphere of achievement and a sense that their city in southern Utah would remain.

Chelle Bridge is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in mass communication


“Snow Canyon Arch … was source of life for Ivins,” St. George, Utah, Color Country Spectrum, February 20, 1977, 1.

“Drought program to aid West, Midwest,” Color Country Spectrum, February 23, 1977, 1.

“Washington copes with growing pains,” Color Country Spectrum, February 24, 1977, 1.

“Utah Faces Worst Drought,” Color Country Spectrum, February 27, 1977, 2.

“Southern Utah Prepares for water shortage,” Color Country Spectrum, February 27, 1977, 1.

“Weather Prompts Scare,” Color Country Spectrum, March 4, 1977, 1.

“Water Supply Deteriorates,” Color Country Spectrum, March 8, 1977, 3.

Bill Cooper,“Drought Affects Wildlife,” Color Country Spectrum, April 3, 1977, 2.

“Changing Water Rate System Encouraged,” Color Country Spectrum, April 10, 1977, 1.

About Snow Canyon State Park,” Utah State Parks and Recreation.

Rendell, Fred. “Drought Turns Eyes Toward Snow Canyon,” in Making the Desert Bloom, republished by the City of St. George.




George Q. Cannon, Tireless Mormon


Apostle, revered statesman, federal prisoner, missionary, newspaper editor: George Q. Cannon was a man with a mission. And although Cannon was never president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is said that aside from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, no one surpassed him as a “leader, shaper and defender of nineteenth-century Mormonism.” (Bitton, ix) From a humble beginning, the path to achieve even minimal amounts of success, let alone greatness in life, looked bleak. Having been presented with poverty-stricken conditions as a child, dropping out of school at the age of 13, and being orphaned at a young age, Cannon had a fire within him to turn the tables. (Evans, 85) Taking into account the less-than-favorable situation in which Cannon grew up, he would defy logic, while establishing a name for himself and helping Utah achieve the greatness that it now enjoys. Cannon would not sit idly.

George Q. Cannon was born in Liverpool, England, on January 11, 1827. Without a great deal of promise in his homeland, Cannon was fortunate to have been born with an intrepid spirit. From a very young age, George demonstrated a great deal of tenacity. At the age of 13, against the wishes of his parents, he left school to work in the shipyard, insisting that, “learning was not a matter of going to school; it was the result of an inner hunger.” (Evans, 86) This stubborn but compelling pride stuck with him throughout his life, choosing twice to be sentenced to prison, rather than compromise his convictions.

Cannon was baptized in 1840. For two years he worked, offering where he could. His money, combined with the efforts of his mother Ann, who had set up a private savings account, paid for passage on the ship, Sidney, destined for the New Orleans Harbor. After arriving stateside, the Cannon family would endure five months of harsh winter before eventually meeting up with the early Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. (Grant Cannon, 339)

At age 16, under the tutelage of his uncle, John Taylor, Cannon began to develop a voice and understanding of the media, spending much of his time focused on disabusing public thought relative to the Mormon faith. (Bitton, 44) It was in these critical teenage years that Cannon would hone his skills as a public and powerful defendant in the fight for Mormonism. Bitter hatred stirred and came to a head on June 27, 1844, when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in cold blood. Also present and subsequently wounded was Cannon’s uncle. In 1845, due to the now widespread, increasing hostility amongst Mormon enemies, early Latter-day Saints succumbed to the demands to leave Nauvoo and headed for the Rocky Mountains.

The Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Two years later, Cannon was asked by Brigham Young to serve a “gold mission” in California to help with the dire straights in which the people were positioned. Cannon, many years later, would say, “there was no place that I would not rather have gone to at this point than California. I heartily despised the work of digging gold. I thought it very poor business for men to be running over the country for gold.” (Bitton, 61) Nevertheless, he went, as he always met his callings with a degree of humility and willingness.

It was in the fall of 1850 that Cannon was released from his California assignment and upon returning to Salt Lake, was met with another calling. Cannon was called to serve a mission in the Sandwich Islands (now the Hawaiian Islands) and would arrive on December 12, 1850. This was no simple task. Due in part to illness and an inability to communicate effectively, many early Missionaries to the islands packed up and went home. Cannon, also faced with these difficulties, made it a goal to immerse himself with the Native speakers to become a “master” of the foreign tongue. Cannon, indeed, mastered the language. So well did he speak, that he would eventually translate The Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language; hard to believe for someone who had dropped out of school when he was 13. (Bitton, 2-9)

Within two weeks of his return to the Salt Lake Valley on November 28, 1854, Cannon was married to his first wife. Expecting to be called back to serve among the Hawaiian people, Cannon was instead sent to California in 1855 for reasons twofold: publishing The Book of Mormon in Hawaiian and publishing a newspaper, the Western Standard, a weekly newspaper whose purpose, along with current news stories, was to provide “correct information about the Church” in the wake of widespread falsehoods. (Bitton) Operating under the slogan, “To Correct Mis-Represention We Provide Self Presentation,” Cannon fought hard at his new position to debunk the plaguing rumors. (Western Standard)

Meanwhile in Salt Lake, as government intervention was heading west due to the practice of Polygamy, Brigham Young ordered Cannon to sell the press and “return to Zion.” (Grant Cannon, 342) So in 1858, Cannon returned to Salt Lake City and after working for just a few months as a “wood rustler,” he was called as an adjutant general of the militia during the Utah War. While fulfilling this duty and given his extensive knowledge of the press, Cannon was given the assignment as a printer for the Deseret News. However, this had to be done in exile in Fillmore, a “safe location.” (Bitton, 90)

Several months passed. Government intensity eased, so Cannon headed back to Salt Lake, only to be met 60 miles outside of the city by a messenger from Brigham Young, informing him that he should head up the Eastern States Mission. (Grant Cannon, 344) And just like that, he was off again.

At the age of 33, while serving in the eastern states, Cannon was called to the office of Apostle. It wasn’t long before he was then called back to his native land, England, where he would head the British mission efforts and take charge of the Church’s newspaper there, The Millennial Star. One of the tasks afforded him was arranging ships to assist converts on their first leg of the trek to the states. Charles Dickens, present at one of the departures, made note of Cannon in The Uncommercial Traveler, describing him as “a compactly-made handsome man in black, rather short, with rich brown hair and beard, and clear bright eyes. From his speech, I should set him down as American. Probably, a man who had ‘knocked about the world’ pretty much. A man with a frank open manner, and unshrinking look; withal a man of great quickness.” (Grant Cannon, 344)

In 1862, Cannon was elected to the United States Senate. Cannon, now around 37 years of age, left England for Washington, D.C., fighting incessantly for statehood. Congress, however, was overwhelmed with the rebellious secession of southern states to offer much thought in granting rights to what would become Utah, so Cannon returned to England to finish his mission. Upon returning to Salt Lake, he would take charge of the Deseret News. As editor, he took the paper from a semi-weekly publication to a daily newspaper. (Grant Cannon, 345)

Cannon maintained this idea of “no rest till the work is done” throughout his life.  He became increasingly active with overseeing the LDS Church, as well as politically active. In 1872, he was elected to Congress as a vote-less Territorial Delegate, a position “he likened to that of a Eunuch in a brothel.” (Grant Cannon, 347)

On April 8, 1873, he was called to the church’s First Presidency. He was eventually driven underground as a fugitive, along with other church officials involved in the practice of polygamy. In 1888, he turned himself in and was sentenced to 175 days in the state penitentiary.

Orson F. Whitney, an Apostle for the LDS Church, said about Cannon, “No man in Utah, after the passing of President Brigham Young, wielded with all classes so great an influence as President George Q. Cannon, and that influence was felt up to the very close of his life.” He was said to have, in many ways, carried the church.  (Street, 706)

Some might say Cannon was a man with a mission, but in fact, he was a man with many missions. One can’t speak about Utah’s early beginnings without mentioning Cannon. He is synonymous with Utah. Apostle, revered statesman, federal prisoner, missionary, and newspaper editor: George Q. Cannon’s life was a life well lived.

Chet Cannon is a senior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication and is the great-great-great grandson of George Q. Cannon


George Q. Cannon, San Francisco, California, Western Standard.

Arthur I. Street, “The Mormon Richelieu,” Ainslee’s Magazine, January 1900, 699-706.

Davis Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1999).

“George Q. Cannon,” David J. Buerger papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Grant Cannon, Prophet, Pioneer, Politician, Prisoner. 1957. MS. University of Utah.

Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveler ; No Thoroughfare. New York: P.F. Collier, [18-. Print.

Beatrice Cannon Evans and Janath Russell Cannon, Cannon Family Historical Treasury, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City, UT: George Cannon Family Association, 1995).

From Street Cars to Shooting Spree: a History of Utah’s Trolley Square


It was a typical Monday night in Salt Lake City, Utah, until gunshots echoed off the one hundred-year-old floors at Trolley Square Shopping Center. Six people were killed including the rampaging shooter, and four were injured; nothing would be the same for people everywhere. This tragedy would become part of the history of Trolley Square, Utah, and the nation.

The Salt Lake Tribune article, “Trolley Square: A Brief History,” gives a summary of Trolley Square: “It is in a historic area of Salt Lake City that Brigham Young in 1847 designated as the 10th Ward when he was gridding the city into neighborhoods.” The area also served as territorial fairgrounds until 1908 when Union Pacific Railroad executive E.H. Harriman made it the base for his new trolley car system. Harriman would invest $3.5 million (roughly $88 million in 2012 dollars) to build the complex including a carbarn building to house the trolley cars, a repair shop, and a paint shop.

The Utah Light and Railway Company was formed and author Jack Goodman noted, The company grew from a merged trio of streetcar companies whose rails once laced the city. One of those antecedent companies had used horsecars at its birth.” (Goodman, 146) The Salt Lake Tribune reported on February 17, 2007: “At one time, more than 144 trolleys operated from mission-style car barns erected at the site.” The new company and street cars went all over Salt Lake and beyond with 146 miles of track. They served the public until they were shut down in 1945.

After the decommissioning of the streetcars, the buildings were used for various purposes. According to “Trolley Square: A Brief History,” “Trolley persisted as a decaying garage for Utah Transit Authority buses and Utah Power maintenance vehicles and the historic block was littered with junk vehicles, old tires and trash contained within barbed wire.” The site became decrepit and was close to being torn down until developer Wallace A. Wright, Jr., was inspired to completely renovate the buildings into a shopping mall with boutique stores. Utah Stories Magazine describes the work:

“The renovations included removing the yellow paint to restore the original brick exterior, adding a second floor to the main building to utilize its height, and decorating the mall with scavenged parts from various locations. These parts included the doors from the Gardo House, balustrades from the ZCMI building, an old elevator from East High School, and a stained-glass dome from the Long Beach First Methodist Church. Perhaps the most unusual second-hand part was a conveyer trestle from an oxide mill east of Tooele, which became the skywalk spanning 600 South. The total cost of renovations was $10 -12 million.” (Razavi)

The renovations transformed a dirty car barn in an old lot to a beautiful shopping destination.

News outlet KSL noted that the 97-foot-tall, 50,000-gallon water tower was changed into a landmark and is now used to indicate the local weather forecast. Goodman noted that Trolley Square Mall had one of Utah’s first skybridges that spanned 600 South to get pedestrians safely from the parking lot, across the busy street, and to the complex. (Goodman, 146) In 1973, after the renovation, Trolley Square was added to the register of historical sites by the state of Utah. It was later added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Four years ago, in 2008, the mall celebrated its centennial anniversary. The Square quickly became and remains one of the state’s most popular attractions, offering unique shopping, dining and entertainment in a charming, historic atmosphere. KSL reported, “Trolley Square welcomes over 3 million customers each year. Approximately 30% are tourists, making Trolley Square the second most visited tourist site in the city.” With two major malls/shopping districts being constructed since that article was written, that number has surely decreased, but Trolley Square is still a special shopping destination with stores found nowhere else.

Various stores changed throughout the years and specialty shops moved in. Every day was business as usual for Trolley Square Mall, which was why no one expected Sulejman Talovic, an 18-year-old Bosnian refugee, to walk in and open fire with a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver. On February 12, 2007, at roughly 6:45 p.m., “Talovic parked his car in the west parking lot and walked into the mall, encountering two people, whom he shot. He then walked further into the mall and shot a woman,” Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank told The Salt Lake Tribune in the article “Killer identified as 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic.”

This was the first part of this horrible crime. Talovic, it was discovered, killed a father and wounded a son in the parking lot and then ten steps into the mall shot at a man, a young woman and an unarmed security guard. As he roamed the mall, he then killed a young woman, according to the official Salt Lake City Police Department report. The shooter continued through the mall firing his guns and reloading constantly. People ran and hid in fear hearing shots, breaking glass and screams. In “Trolley Square: Emotionless killer gunned down victims randomly,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported, “The gunman made his way down the hallway, where he opened fire once again, this time into a gift shop with several people inside. Gunshots shattered the storefront glass, striking and killing at least three people.” Patrons of the mall fled in fear as the gunshots continued to roar throughout the building.

After the massacre in the gift shop Talovic came across an off-duty police officer and his wife. The Deseret News reported on February 18, 2007, that his wife “called 911 and explained to dispatchers that her husband was a police officer, giving them a description of what he was wearing.” Once the police officer was engaged, the standoff began. The officer ordered Talovic to drop his weapon, but he refused. Multiple shots were fired between the police officer and the shooter.

During this time, the Salt Lake Police were in action with officers en route and one already at Trolley Square. The solo officer entered the building, witnessed the standoff and came to the aid of the off-duty police officer. The shooter took cover in a nearby store while the officers hid behind posts. Occasional shots were exchanged between the officers and the gunman. Orders were given and ignored by Talovic.

Finally SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) officers entered from behind the shooter and witnessed him shoot at the other policemen. They opened fire and ended Talovic’s killing spree. Pat Reavy of the Deseret News reported on February 18, 2007, that “it was just seven minutes from the time the first person was shot in the west terrace parking lot to the time the gunman was killed, the district attorney’s office said.” In that brief seven minutes, six people, including a 15-year-old teenager, were dead, and four people were hospitalized with serious injuries.

The Deseret News article, “Mall Massacre,” reported, “Police officers in full SWAT gear went through the mall, discovering more and more frightened people huddling in back rooms, dressing rooms, closets, bathrooms and anywhere else they could hide. One group of people locked themselves in a freezer to stay safe.”

Forensic teams closed off the entire four-block area and started piecing the puzzle together. Police investigators did not have leads as to what Sulejman Talovic’s motives were. The Deseret News reported, “Detectives as of Friday had found no evidence that violent video games may have influenced Talovic. In fact, Talovic did not even own a computer or a video-game system…. Investigators also had not ‘found anything that has religious or political motivation’ or shown that Talovic’s ethnicity was a factor.” (Reavy) His family was deeply saddened by his actions and could not understand why he committed the crime. KSL reported on March 3, 2007, “The family of Sulejman Talovic buried him in his native Bosnia” that same day.

The community was shocked and outraged, but joined together and held candlelight vigils, placed flowers, and raised funds for the victims. Members of the community stood united and mourned together. The victims were honored by the government, by flying flags at half-staff and opening the Senate’s floor session by remembering the victims, as reported on by the Deseret News February 16, 2007. Mall owners eventually opened their doors and people gradually began to shop and dine again at Trolley Square. Attendance and business increased as citizens showed their support.

Recently the incident has been studied extensively and is now being used as an example of police procedure. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on March 20, 2012, “The way Salt Lake City officers and one off-duty Ogden officer responded as Sulejman Talovic shot shoppers and patrons has been considered such a good example of intercepting what police call an ‘active shooter’ that it’s been taught across the country.”

Stores have changed, consumer business has fluctuated and Trolley Square was even sold to new owners, but things are looking up. The new owners are investing more money and have since remodeled and built a massive new parking garage. A large anchor store has also moved in and a popular local bookstore has relocated to Trolley Square. The dark day will always remain in the history of Salt Lake but the future looks brighter for the residents and business owners in the area. Trolley Square will continue as a fixture in Salt Lake City.

Kyle K. Leete is a junior at The University of Utah studying mass communication with a new media emphasis.


Nate Carlisle, “Police around the nation learn from Trolley Square shootings,” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 20, 2012, 1.

Zacharia Razavi, “Trolley Square—A Salt Lake City Icon,” Utah Stories Magazine, November 6, 2008.

Pat Reavy, “Police, DA give further details in Trolley shooting,” The Deseret News, February 18, 2007, 2.

Pat Reavy, Linda Thomson and Joe Bauman, “More details emerging on Trolley Square gunman and victims: State officials, business owners, clergy extend sympathies, offer help,” The Deseret News, February 16, 2007, 5.

Ben Winslow, Pat Reavy and Wendy Leonard, “Mall massacre: Gunman at Trolley Square kills 5, wounds others before he’s slain,” The Deseret News, February 16, 2007, 3.

“Killer identified as 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 13, 2007, 1.

“Trolley Square: A Brief History,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 13, 2007, 1.

John Goodman, As You Pass By: Architectural Musings on Salt Lake City: a Collection of Columns and Sketches from the Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995).

KSL 5 Eyewitness Weather Tower at Trolley Square,” KSL News.

Trolley Shooter Laid to Rest Today,” KSL News, March 3, 2007.

Trolley Square Shooting Incident Investigative Summary,” Salt Lake City Police Department.

KDYL Brings Local, Independent Television to Utah



When KDYL began broadcasting in Salt Lake City in 1922, it was just the thirteenth radio station in the United States. It became the radio station for the already prominent Salt Lake Telegram newspaper in Salt Lake City. However, by 1927 the station was failing financially and falling behind the already established KZN radio station (owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Deseret News) and looking for new support. Sydney S. Fox, an outside investor, entrepreneur and stepfather of then-KDYL president Fred Provol, purchased the failing station for $4,000. Fox saw potential in radio to be an “entertainment medium,” and saw KDYL as a great way to test this potential. (Boyles, iv)

Fox immediately established a new and innovative way to build revenue for KDYL. He knew it would have to come through advertisement. In fact, much of his own success in broadcasting (radio and television) was based upon his ability to sell advertisement in new, inventive ways. (Boyles, 27) Over the next ten years, Sydney S. Fox continued to improve and build up revenue and the popularity of KDYL.

Fox’s focus shifted from radio to television in 1939 after he attended the World’s Fair in both New York City and San Francisco. This is where he saw television demonstrated for the first time. Fox’s drive and enthusiasm quickly turned to developing a local television station in Salt Lake City under the KDYL name. He felt that the possibilities of this new form of medium were unlimited and all of his time went to making it a reality in Salt Lake City.

Fox knew that it would be a sensation, but he failed to see how much of an impact it would have on the local Salt Lake City community. He began to demonstrate local television at state fairs and at public demonstration days at local department stores in downtown Salt Lake City. The turnout was outstanding. Following several applications to the FCC, he was granted an experimental license in 1941. However, the timing was not meant to be. Shortly after obtaining a license, the onset of World War II halted any further progress. That was until 1946, when RCA began production of television transmitters once again.

Inside the television studio of KDYL-TV. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

KDYL, with a recently purchased transmitter, began to build a transmitter on the top of the Walker Bank and Trust Building in downtown Salt Lake City. A full television studio was also built at the Regent Street Playhouse on 68 Regent Street. (Boyles, 39) Then, with the approval of a television broadcasting application in 1946 by the FCC, KDYL began transmitting by November as KDYL/W6XIS. (Boyles, 40) These transmissions soon turned into regular programmed media in April 1948, and thus launched the first independently owned television station in the United States. KDYL, going by the call sign of W6XIS, continued to provide independent programming for the Salt Lake City community until early 1953, when KDYL was sold to TIME Inc. for just over $2 million.


Radio, having been around for some time by the 1920s, was viewed as a source of information and news. And even though rumors of television being the main medium for such information and news were growing daily, people still had their doubts. As early as 1910, the idea of sending pictures over wires had been well discussed but yet looked upon as impossible. A 1910 article in the Deseret News emphasizes these doubts:

“Something more tangible than television has been devised by a French inventor … [who] is making an apparatus to which a series of photographs can be telegraphed one after the other instantaneously, and reformed so as to give a cinematograph reproduction of an event.” (“Seeing By Wire”)

Yet by 1938, full-page articles were being printed within newspapers featuring the progress of the television.

The Kane County Standard printed such an article titled “Television, Science’s Youngster, Starts Wearing Long Trousers.” In this article, Joseph W. LaBine focuses on progress of the invention and notes that the “bugs” had been eliminated. “Actually, RCA’s engineers have already ironed out most of the ‘bugs’ in transmission.” It may have been articles such as that one that focused on the television that influenced Sydney S. Fox, president of KDYL in Salt Lake City, to pursue the concept of television.

But the most influential impact came from Fox’s visits to the World’s Fair in New York City and San Francisco. There he witnessed RCA’s demonstrations of television that launched the beginning of television’s rise to the top of broadcasting mediums. Fox was reportedly “so enthusiastic and saw such possibilities for the new medium, that they immediately ordered a ‘jeep’ television outfit consisting of equipment capable of demonstrating but not telecasting, television.” (“KDYL-TV Laid Plans for Video”)

Sydney S. Fox with two of KDYL-TV's engineers, including head engineer John Boldwin (far right), inside main control room at KDYL. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

KDYL immediately began to show the power of this “new medium” with demonstrations in local Paris Co. department stores as early as fall 1939 and at the State Fair in 1940. Over 45,000 people filled demonstrations in department stores in the space of just three days to witness the demonstration of television, and the television was also designated the key attraction at the State Fair. The Salt Lake Telegram quotes Fox saying that “he knew there was enough interest in television in Salt Lake City to justify going ahead with plans for commercial television here.” (“KDYL-TV Laid Plans for Video”)

Fox’s plans for television were put on hold in 1941 with the onslaught of World War II. “Because of America’s all out war effort, [the War Production Board] would not permit the manufacture or sale of television broadcasting equipment by regular manufacturers.(Boyles, 39) But this did not stop the enthusiasm of Fox. KDYL continued to invest time into developing the already existing technology and in 1943, following a trip to New York, Fox explained that television production factories were preparing transmitters for postwar delivery. (“SL Radio Executive Says Industry Eyes Television”)

In September 1944, KDYL filed an application for the building of a commercial use television station on an experimental basis. (“S.L. Firm Asks to Build Television Station”) By December 1944, the FCC granted KDYL a permit for the construction of an experimental television station, which would become the first studio between Kansas City and the West Coast. Fox was quoted as saying, “KDYL is proud to be a pioneer in this great field.” (“S.L. Firm Granted Television Permit”)

KDYL's downtown building next to the Walker Bank building in Salt Lake City. The KDYL-TV transmitter was located on top of the Walker Bank Building. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Between 1944 and 1948, KDYL was actively pursuing the reality of broadcasting local television programs to the Salt Lake City community. KDYL built a television transmission tower on top of the Walker Bank and Trust Building in downtown Salt Lake City, and finished building a television studio in the Regent Street Playhouse on 68 Regent Street. (Boyles, 39) The Regent playhouse worked perfectly for the site of a television studio since the playhouse was given up during the war. In 1946, KDYL began experimental transitions but did not officially sign on the air until April 1948 under the call sign W6XIS. The Salt Lake Telegram explained the significance of KDYL-TV:

“An event of historic significance in the field of entertainment and the dissemination of information occurred in Salt Lake City this week. It was the inauguration of the first regularly scheduled television program in the intermountain region…. Salt Lake City thus becomes the 13th city in the nation to have regularly scheduled television.” (“Salt Lake 13th to Have Television”)

The inaugural program was graced with the presence of the Utah governor, the Salt Lake mayor, and Frank Streator, president of the Chamber of Commerce. (“Salt Lake 13th to Have Television”) Along with KDYL-TV being the first station west of Kansas City, it also set another milestone by being the first independently owned television station in the nation. KDYL became a pioneer for what television would become and mean as a local informational source in the United States.

KDYL-TV followed a five-night-a-week schedule, but due to public demand KDYL-TV changed to seven nights a week by October 1948. In its early years KDYL-TV had many firsts and milestones. It was the first to broadcast golf and downhill skiing, and by 1952 KDYL-TV was broadcasting from 9:30 in the morning until midnight seven days a week, which made it one of the largest scheduled local television stations in the nation. (Boyles, 47)

A group of men, including Sydney S. Fox (center) addressing a TV audience on a live broadcast from KDYL-TV studios. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Television continued to boom and expand within the Salt Lake Valley as well. By May 1948, KSL, a competing radio station, had helped build an entertainment television studio in a ZCMI department store located in downtown Salt Lake City. The studio was scheduled to broadcast a one-hour show daily from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. (“Department Store Sees Television”) This became an added attraction for shoppers at ZCMI and led to KSL filing an application for construction of its own local television station by July 1948 with construction beginning in early 1949. (“Get Television Permit”)

KDYL-TV continued to set the pace for local television. “In late July the station’s mobile unit was delivered, which made possible the telecasting of events away from the studio.” (“KDYL-TV Laid Plans for Video”) This also brought sporting events to viewers at home. The Salt Lake community would soon be able to watch a wide range of sporting events from their own front room. This became a true pioneering television station, which played a major part in the Salt Lake community.

KDYL-TV continued to broadcast as an independent company through Intermountain Broadcasting Company, headed by Sydney S. Fox, until July 24, 1953, when KDYL-TV was purchased by TIME Inc. for just over $2 million. Fox retired as president of Intermountain Broadcasting and as president of KDYL. He would be succeeded by Roy E. Larsen, president of TIME, Inc. This was not necessarily a terrible move for KDYL-TV, as Larsen stated: “We know the KDYL stations will profit by TIME’s journalism and television success formula. We at KDYL hope to make our station ‘The Voice of the New Golden West.'” (“Sale of KDY-TV”)


Sydney S. Fox and his team at KDYL helped pioneer and develop early television station standards that directly impacted the Salt Lake community and the rest of the nation by being the first at many aspects of broadcasting, including: first independent television station, first to air golf and downhill skiing, first to challenge the nation’s use of locally scheduled broadcasts by providing local broadcasts seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. until midnight. The station also pioneered ways of gaining advertisement space on local television. Sydney S. Fox continued to work within television after leaving KDYL and pressed the concept of entertainment with the idea of producing movie-like television shows. Sydney S. Fox truly helped drive local television into the news, information and entertainment source that it has become, and his desire for the public to witness television still lives today as KDYL continues to air local programming under call number KTVX in Salt Lake City.

Jason Bushnell is a senior studying mass communication at The University of Utah. He is set to graduate following the Fall 2012 semester. He will be continuing a career within television broadcasting.


“Seeing By Wire,” The Deseret News, April 12, 1910.

Joseph W. LaBine, “Television, Science’s Youngsters, Starts Wearing Long Trousers,” Kane County Standard, January 7, 1938.

“Salt Lake Concerns To Show Television,” Davis County Clipper, September 15, 1939.

“Television Set To Be Exhibited,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 10, 1940.

“S.L. Radio Executive Says Industry Eyes Television,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 12, 1943.

“KUTA Files Application For Television Station,” Salt Lake Telegram, June 3, 1944.

“S.L. Firm Asks to Build Television Station,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 23, 1944.

“S.L. Firm Granted Television Permit,” Salt Lake Telegram, December 30, 1944.

“Salt Lake City 13th To Have Television,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 21, 1948.

“Department Store Sees Television,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 28, 1948.

“S.L. Station Expands Television Schedule,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 7, 1948.

“Get Television Permit,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 30,1948.

“KDYL-TV Laid Plans For Video in ’39,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 31, 1951.

“Sale Of DKY-TV OF Salt Lake City To Time, Inc. Stated,” Davis County Clipper, July 24, 1953.

Patrick Wm. Boyles, Sydney Fox and KDYL, 1927-1952: A Utah Broadcasting History (M.S. thesis, University of Utah, 1953).