The Story of the Utah State Capitol

by MATTHEW A. SMITH

The Utah State Capitol building could be considered the crown of the Salt Lake Valley. Nestled high atop the northernmost hills of Salt Lake City, this beautiful statehouse can be seen from miles around in most directions. Despite its current location overlooking the capital city in which it resides, Salt Lake City was not the original choice for the Utah State Capitol.

In 1851, legislators for the then-territory of Utah decided the small working-class town of Fillmore, named after the sitting President Millard Fillmore, would be the ideal place to construct a government building. Construction began in 1855 for what was to be called the Utah Territorial Statehouse. (Fillmore City)

Funding for the project came in part from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had recently arrived from the Midwest to start colonizing the new territory. Other construction funding came from the federal government, with a personal touch from President Millard Fillmore himself, who had become sympathetic to the young territory’s quest for statehood. (Fillmore City)

Fillmore’s goal of achieving capital city status never was fully realized. In 1856, after only part of the statehouse was completed and just one legislative meeting, territory lawmakers determined the bigger town of Salt Lake City would be the better option for a permanent location. (Fillmore City)

However, the capitol building as it is seen today took some time before it became a reality n Salt Lake City. Many local buildings in the area were used for the purposes of conducting territory business while officials pondered a final government home. (Fillmore City) In 1896 Utah was finally granted statehood by the federal government and that accelerated plans to come up with a capitol building. In 1900, the “Capitol Commission” was started as a special group dedicated to creating plans, searching locations and securing financing for the project. (“May Construct State Capitol”)

A few places in Salt Lake City were top candidates for the new construction, including the grounds of Fort Douglas, downtown Salt Lake City near the city/county building that had served as the temporary state building for some time, or the northernmost hills of Salt Lake City known as Arsenal Hill. (“Surveying Site of New Capitol”) Arsenal Hill was a more popular choice among decision-makers due to its central location and elevation. The site was not without its obvious challenges, though. The state legislature as well as the Capitol Commission had strong doubts regarding the placement on Arsenal Hill. Not only was there a large, natural grade, but there was also a large presence of residential neighborhoods and private property. Lawmakers knew it would be expensive to secure the land for the project to move forward. (“Surveying Site of New Capitol”)

Despite these concerns, Arsenal Hill was chosen. Thanks to a $1 million bond provided by the state legislature and receipt of an inheritance tax in the amount of $800,000 that was charged to the estate of Union Pacific Railroad President E. H. Harriman, the finances were secured for construction of the Utah State Capitol. (About the Capitol)

Once the finances were secure, Utah architect Richard Karl August Kletting won the bid out of 10 other national and local candidates to design the capitol building. (“Plans Selected by Commission”)

Kletting wanted to start right away because the governor of the new state of Utah, William Spry, who also served as the chair of the Capitol Commission, promised the citizens of Utah the project’s foundation would be poured by the time the following session of Congress commenced. (“Construction of State Capitol”)

Throughout the construction process, the Capitol Commission and Kletting worked together to ensure satisfactory completion. There was a clear understanding between the two that the capitol building be “functional, distinguished and lasting.” (Centennial Exhibit)

The materials involved in the construction were specifically chosen with Kletting’s eye on perfection and architectural significance, the sort that made him a name in the industry up to that point in his career. A priority that both Kletting and the commission agreed upon was the need for this building to be as fireproof as possible. (Centennial Exhibit) As most structures in that day were created with stone and wood, the destruction a fire would have on a building of such scale was certainly apparent. So, Kletting used reinforced concrete for the frame instead of wood, the standard framing option then. He also ensured the further protection by installing a vacuum system for fire suppression and stone walkways. (Centennial Exhibit)

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The Tribune announced on March 14, 1912, that the esteemed architect Richard K. A. Kletting had been selected to design the capitol.

Aside from pragmatic construction methods, the pride Kletting had in Utah’s own natural resources gave way to the use of Utah granite, copper, Sanpete limestone and Utah onyx on the construction site. (“Marble Dial in Stone”) This was crucial in Kletting’s attempt to make this capitol building unique and representative of the local environment. These resources adorn the entire building, from the rotunda to the basement, and granite and limestone make up a large part of the capitol footprint. (About the Capitol)

Unfortunately, the state legislature was not able to hold its meeting, as promised earlier by Gov. William Spry, on the capitol grounds. Construction delays prevented the ability to open the capitol on time, thus an alternate location was designated for the session. (“Construction of State Capitol”)

The Utah State Capitol was finally completed enough in 1915 for many state workers as well as state legislators to move in. Improvements were still being completed to the satisfaction of the Capitol Commission and Kletting, but most of the working quarters were complete enough to house many people.

Then on October 9, 1916, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah State Capitol was dedicated before a crowd of nearly 40,000 people. Citizens, out-of-state guests, dignitaries and reporters attended the dedication on the steps of the capitol.

Gov. Spry addressed the crowd and said, in part, “I want to tell you how glad we feel that such numbers have turned out to accept from us this home that we now turn over to you.” (Centennial Exhibit)

Matthew A. Smith is a junior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism and religious studies.

Primary Sources

“Fillmore City,” http://www.fillmorecity.org/historyoffillmore.html

“About the Capitol,” https://utahstatecapitol.utah.gov/explore/about-the-capitol

“Centennial Exhibit,” https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4l_fw7iWWaLSTdvNi1xSWNqZk0/

“Capitol Commission and City Are Agreed,” Salt Lake Herald, October 13, 1912.

“Construction of State Capitol,” Wasatch Wave, August 2, 1912.

“Plans Selected by Commission for Utah’s New State Capitol and Photograph of Richard K. A. Kletting, the Winning Architect,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 1912.

“Surveying Site of New Capitol,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 12, 1911.

“May Construct State Capitol,” Salt Lake Herald, June 11, 1909.

“Marble Dial in Stone,” Deseret Evening News, January 16, 1900.

 

 

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Lucin Cutoff Tragedy: Greek Contribution and Sacrifice in the Mountain West

by JONO MARTINEZ

Greek immigrants were among the last Europeans to make their way into the United States during the late 1800s. Toward the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of young Greeks fled to Utah to live what they would consider their first years of exile. Facing continued Turkish control in their own country, many of these people, young men and boys mostly, sought to live a life elsewhere with hopes of returning to a more promising Greece. (Papanikolas, 45)

Finding solace in the American West, Greek immigrants quickly took to labor on railroads and mines as a means to survive. These men endured long, isolated seasons of strenuous labor with payment as low as $20 for a single month. Although California and Nevada would provide bountiful labor for immigrants, the railroads of Utah would be of special interest to them and would also tragically cost some of their lives. Among the places where extensive Greek contributions took place are the Carbon County mines, Murray-Midvale smelters, Bingham Canyon mines, Magna mill, Garfield smelter, and north of Ogden for railroad-gang work on the Oregon Short Line (later Union Pacific). (Papanikolas, 46-48)

On February 19, 1904, 24 men—16 of whom were Greek immigrant railroad workers—died in a train collision near the Lucin Cutoff crossing the Great Salt Lake. The Lucin Cutoff is a 102-mile railroad line in Utah that runs from Ogden to its namesake in Lucin. (“With Dead”) News reports at the time provided varying numbers of victims and gave inconsistent details regarding the details of the crash. By most accounts, the air brake system failed on the eastbound train, which contained a boxcar of black powder, and the locomotive collided with a dynamite-laden westbound train attempting to clear the mainline. (“Air Brakes”) The magnitude of the explosion was such that the adjacent small town of Jackson was destroyed and 1,000 feet of track were blown up, leaving an excavation 30 feet deep. One engine was blown over in the flat and almost buried in the salt earth; one of the drive wheels was found nearly a half-mile away. (“Dynamite Wrecks”)

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An unidentified group watches a woman shaking hands with a railroad worker. Greek Archives photograph collection, 1900-1967, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The disaster would quickly gain the attention of local newspapers, with Ogden’s own Standard dedicating at least one piece a day of coverage for the weeks following the event. Accounts in the paper were graphic, with descriptions of decapitated bodies and scattered limbs. (“Dynamite Explosion”) Even the hailed New York Times would mention the half-mile radius of damage in its February 20 issue. The article listed by name the three American victims, but the immigrant workers were lumped into a single group with little to no recognition. While the tragedy was indeed covered in the news, the loss of the eight Utahns would ultimately overshadow the loss of Greek immigrant life. As The Salt Lake Tribune would make sure to mention on February 20, 1904, “A majority of those killed were Greek laborers, although many of the victims were English-speaking people.” The emphasis on “American” life over immigrant casualties in news accounts of the 1904 wreck ultimately reflected views that foreign laborers were expendable. (“Memorial Honors”)

Misfortune for the victims’ families only grew in the days following the accident. The designated coroner charged various undertakers, including Larkin & Sons, with handling the 24 bodies. Larkin opted to remove the bodies under his care to his own establishment in order to better prepare them for burial. This raised a protest from the assembled multitude of Greeks, many of whom had cousins and other relatives under the coverings inside the improvised morgue. They declared the bodies should not be moved. Richey, the other undertaker, later burned the blankets in which their bodies had been wrapped for transportation to the city. The Greek community had their own blankets that they wished to use instead, which were traditionally used for bedding. These were often hand-woven of superior material by them in Greece and brought to America with them. (“Dead are Brought”)

It was clear that there would be a long process in both identifying and treating the bodies, yet unique issues arose with regard to the extant language barrier between immigrants and local authorities who hoped to discover the cause of the accident. Two Americanized Greeks, John McCart and Arthur Mitchell, were sworn in as interpreters. Even so, they were unable to communicate much information to the authorities due to the conditions survivors were in. According to a story published in The Salt Lake Tribune on February, 26, 1904, “very little information concerning the accident could be elicited from the wounded Greeks.”

Other obstacles in the investigation came in the form of English-speaking witnesses who refused to give their full testimony. For example, Sam Courtney, the conductor of the water train, was questioned to no avail. Courtney’s hips and back were badly injured in the accident; yet, when he was asked who, in his opinion, was responsible for the makeup of the train and for the accident, he refused to make any statement. Ultimately, no blame would be placed on a single party and all persons interviewed would be absolved. (“Verdict of Jury”)

George N. Tsolomite, vice-consular agent for the Kingdom of Greece, arrived two weeks after the accident in Ogden. He then decided to contest each of the probate proceedings, which had just begun in Weber and Box Elder counties for the appointment of administrators in the estates of the Greeks who were killed in the recent railroad disaster at Jackson. (“Verdict of the Jury”) For many people at the time and now, it was evident that immigrants were misused as employees, especially those who could not speak English. Tsolomite’s involvement was to lessen aggravations felt by the families. Yet it was disasters like the one at Jackson and countless others that eventually energized immigrants to force employers to improve working conditions through labor unions. (“Memorial Honors”)

On October 22, 2000, nearly a century after the Lucin Cutoff tragedy, members of Utah’s ever-growing Greek community gathered in Ogden to witness the installation of a granite monument in memory of the deceased workers. (“Memorial Honors”) The tragedy and suggestion for the memorial were brought to the attention of the Utah Hellenic Cultural Association by Stella Kapetan of Chicago, who discovered the episode while researching her family history. (“Memorial”) This commemoration was seen by many as long overdue, considering that the majority of the men were buried without a headstone. For many, those Greek railroad workers who lost their lives are an example of the undervalued efforts and sacrifices undergone by immigrants in the United States of America. The memorial now serves as a reminder to both Greeks and non-Greeks of an otherwise downplayed moment in Utah history. Furthermore, their contribution as immigrants to help build the American West now receives the credit it has deserved.

Jono Martinez graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

Sources

“Action of Greek Counsul,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Verdict of the Jury Judge Pritchard in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Coroner’s Inquest Continued to Thursday,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Inquest in Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 1904.

“Verdict of Jury in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Air Brakes Failed,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 24, 1904.

“Dynamite Explosion Brings Havoc and Death,” Standard, February 23, 1904.

“Dead are Brought to Ogden Sunday,” Standard, February 22, 1904.

“With Dead of the Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 22, 1904.

“Dynamite Wrecks Town,” The New York Times, February 20, 1904

“Memorial Honors Forgotten Victims of 1904 Railroad Tragedy,” The Salt Lake Tribune, October 23, 2000.

“Memorial,” Deseret News, May 29, 2000.

Papanikolas, Helen Zeeze. Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1970.

 

Nuclear Testing: Southern Utah’s Battle for Air

by ARYAN FARAHANI

During the years of World War II and throughout the years of the Cold War, we saw many horrific acts of violence that changed many components of our society. Within these acts of violence, the rise of destructive weapons, known as nuclear weapons, were more prominently showcased throughout the world.

Not only were these nuclear weapons used for “safety,” but they were also manufactured to showcase a nation’s superiority. In 1945, toward the end of WW II, the United States was the first nation to use nuclear weapons, on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After these horrendous events, and as the quest for world dominance continued, many more nations began developing nuclear weapons. With that in mind, the competition to create the world’s best nuclear weapon was in the works. And with the United States taking on the role of global hegemon, it was clear that in order to create the perfect weapon, many tests had to be conducted throughout the US.

Nevada, with its desert-like geography and immense amounts of open space, was an ideal site for one of the nuclear testing centers operated by the United States Department of Energy. Nye County, in south-central Nevada, also was close to two cities in southern Utah: St. George and Cedar City. With the initial test-taking place in January 1951, many Southern Utahns were unaware of what exactly the nuclear tests would entail. But in the coming years, the disastrous effects of the “purple cloud” became more evident. (“Atom Explosions”) As Seegmiller writes, “Relatively few Iron County residents were aware of or concerned about nuclear testing when the first mushroom-shaped cloud rose into the western skies … but the cloud figuratively remains over southern Utah and Nevada to this day.”

The Salt Lake Telegram reported on January 27, 1951, that “residents of Southern Utah, miles to the cast of here, said they saw the sky light up and heard the distant rumbling.” This initial blast was the beginning of many tests. And although that was the case, many were not aware of the harmful toxins that nuclear tests would release on the residents, as well as on the surrounding residents of Southern Utah.

Through the initial steps of the first nuclear test, further progress needed to be achieved. Therefore, another nuclear test was conducted in April 1952. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on April 14, 1952, that “indications pointed to the testing of another atomic device rather than a full-blown atomic bomb,” which would essentially “be developed into future atomic weapons.” Many of the repercussions were still not evident to the residents, but it became clear that more nuclear tests were to be conducted in the near future.

Moreover, another nuclear test was conducted in March 1953. The Iron County Record reported on March 5, 1953, that “ranchers, miners, migrants, private fliers, and others concerned are warned that the atomic energy commission’s Nevada proving grounds will be used for nuclear experiments.” Although this was the case, many were still not warned of the harms, but instead had to find out about them the hard way.

In consideration of the above tests that were conducted throughout the years of 1951-1953, some individuals who were educated on the matter of nuclear weapons concluded that they were obliged to talk about it. It wasn’t until 1953 when some of the nuclear tests’ tragedies began to become evident. More specifically, and as reported in the May 7, 1953, issue of the Irony County Record, University of Utah research student Ralph L. Hafen noted that he was “morally obligated to warn people of the irreparable damage that may have occurred or may in the future occur” from the nuclear tests. Hafen stated in the Irony County Record that the plutonium and radiation that the tests released could affect many components of southern Utah residents’ lives, which can be summarized to include cancer, blindness, mutations, death, and climate change.

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The Iron County Record reported on March 3, 1955, that ranchers were convinced atomic testing had killed their sheep.

Many individuals in southern Utah began noticing that some changes in their everyday lives could be related to the nuclear tests that had been conducted in the border state of Nevada. And although they noticed, it was clear that the tests would continue to be conducted. That being said, the March 31955, issue of the Iron County Record reported that “the third atomic blast [of 1955] was seen from Cedar [City],” which shows its severity, because Cedar City is more distant to the Nevada border. The article also stated that that southern Utah farmers were “convinced that the atomic fallout from the experiments at Yucca Flats in Nevada two years ago was the direct cause of heavy loss to sheep herds grazing in adjacent areas.” Therefore, they filed a lawsuit against the Atomic Energy Commission for its actions and incompetent behavior. Also in 1955, many citizens, including southern Utah residents, were briefly told about the harms that the nuclear tests could have on their lives. The Iron County Record reported on February 3, 1955, that “the Atomic Energy Commission, Department of Defense, has announced that it will not be responsible for patrons who might wander into the area, without proper authority.” It was also reported in the same issue that it was dangerous to be around the tests, identifying that “caution has also been advised for individuals in the general area.”

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The view of an atomic explosion at the Nevada Test Site, located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nye County, Nevada. Lloyd Franklin Manis Collection, Special Collections, University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Used with permission.

The book Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy by Philip Fradkin discusses the government’s historical role with nuclear testing. Fradkin highlights how the Atomic Energy Commission was at fault through “the mistakes and subsequent cover-ups” that they used with these nuclear tests. (2) It is clear that the government officials involved with these tests were aware of their harms, but did not feel a need to tell residents the details. Instead, these officials withheld information, and gave them a brief warning four years after the first nuclear test took place.

Southern Utah residents were deeply affected by these events and by the actions of the Atomic Energy Commission. In the book Justice Downward: America’s Atomic Testing Program in the 1950s, a former University of Utah professor, Howard Ball, discusses the careless behavior of the government. Ball examines the events of the blasts, and quotes Frank Butrico, a Public Health Service radiation safety monitor who worked in St. George during the 1953 series of tests. Butrico testified in a 1982 wrongful death suit filed by 24 cancer victims and their relatives. He said, “The radioactive cloud hung over St. George for over two hours, fallout radiation levels peaked at a little less than 6 rads, well over even AEC standards.” (Ball, 43)

In addition to that, southern Utah residents were not truthfully told about this information. Instead, they were told, “Radiation levels were a little above normal but not in the range of being harmful.” (Ball, 43-44) Not only was valuable information withheld from residents, but they also were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation that indefinitely caused many issues to their health and surrounding environment. With a matter as severe as this, it is saddening to learn about the truths after they had initially taken place. Although there isn’t a reliable statistic proving the amount of illnesses and cancer-related deaths the exposure of the radiation levels caused, Seegmiller reports that “as of September 1994, 1,003 claims had been approved, 829 claims had been denied, and 125 were pending.” These figures illustrate just how severe the effects were on southern Utah residents.

All in all, it is clear that the nuclear tests that were conducted in Nevada are an incredibly important part of Utah’s history as a whole. Although this research focuses on the years of 1951-1955, these nuclear tests ultimately changed many people’s lives, and to this day in 2017, the effects that these nuclear tests had on southern Utah residents are extremely palpable. It is important to take into account these events, because although these nuclear tests caused many tragedies, they are an essential part of our history, and are important components in learning more about how nuclear activity had an effect on Utahns.

That being said, today, the government has set up funds to compensate families for the illnesses and deaths these blasts may have caused. Although it does not make up for the damages the nuclear tests have done, it does show some initiative and responsibility on the government’s part. Looking through the United States Department of Justice webpage, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act “established an administrative program for claims relating to atmospheric nuclear testing and claims relating to uranium industry employment.” (RECA) And if these nuclear tests are proven to be the cause of any harm, then families would receive compensation to make up for the indescribable damage.

Aryan Farahni graduated in May 2017 from The University of Utah. He attained a Bachelor of Science degree in political science, with minors in media studies and international studies. 

Sources

“Atom Explosion Set off in Nevada,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 27, 1951, 1.

“Spews Purple Cloud,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 30, 1951, 1.

“Scientists Arrive at Vegas for Second A-Blast,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 14, 1952, 2.

“Atomic Proving Ground Set for Nuclear Test,” Iron County Record, March 5, 1953, 3.

Ralph L. Hafen, “Effects of Atom Blasts on Southern Utah Discussed by U. of U. Student, Iron County Record, May 7, 1953, 9.

“Citizens Are Warned of Dangers at Nevada Test Site,” Iron County Record, February 2, 1955, 2.

“Local Sheep Raisers File Suit with Govt. for Loss,” Iron County Record, March 3, 1955, 1.

“Third Atomic Blast Seen From Cedar,” Iron County Record, March 3, 1955, 8.

Ball, Howard. Justice Downwind: America’s Atomic Testing Program in the 1950s. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Fradkin, Philip L. Fallout: An American Nuclear Tragedy. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.

The United States Department of Justice. “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.” https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca

Seegmiller, Janet Burton. “Nuclear Testing and the Downwinders.” Utah History to Go, http://bit.ly/1nSvCYD

 

 

 

 

 

The Origins of Snowboarding in Utah

by STEPHEN KONKLER

Snowboarding began in 1965 with the invention of the “Snurfer.” Sherman Poppen, an engineer and father in Michigan, invented the first prototype of a snowboard as a toy for his daughter by attaching two skis together side by side and putting a rope at the very front of the board for control. (TransWorld, Part 1) Not long after, snowboarding took off nationwide, and it wasn’t long before fanatics made it out to Utah for the lightest snow on earth.

Although it’s not mentioned much in Utah’s history books, Utah has been a home to snowboarding, and a dominant destination for the sport since the early 1970s. Alta Ski Area, one of the oldest ski areas in the US, started out as a small mining camp in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon in the 1920s and 1930s. Alta opened its doors to skiers in 1936, and years later in the 1970s became the first ski area in Utah to allow snowboarders to ride the slopes, with Snowbird Ski Resort close behind. (Scheuerman, “Snowboarding”)

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Dimitrije Milovich rides his Winterstick snowboard. Photo by Alan K. Engen. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

With a newfound sport on the rise and an open market demanding snowboards, a young man by the name of Dimitrije Milovich found his way to Utah and set out to invent the first snowboard without a rope for the rider to hang onto. (TransWorld, Part 1) With the help of famous surfboard shaper Wayne Stoveken, Milovich invented the first snowboard that used plastic for the base and metal on the edges of the board to help grip the snow. (Winterstick Advertisement) Milovich started out testing his prototypes at Snowbird and at Alta Ski Area. (Although Alta was willing to let Milovich test his newly designed equipment there, the area subsequently closed to snowboarders in 1984. It has yet to reopen to anyone but skiers, despite being on public land.) By 1971, Milovich had a couple of patents for his state of the art “snow surfboards” and had opened a shop to sell his aptly named “Winterstick Swallowtails” in none other than Salt Lake City, Utah. (TransWorld, Part 1)

Although the sport of snowboarding continued to grow, not only in Utah but also across the country, some skiers weren’t very happy to share the slopes with this newfound sport and the culture that followed. After a skier crashed at Stratton Mountain, a resort in Vermont, and sued the ski area, management was forced to create ski-at-your-own-risk laws and ban all non-traditional skiing sports. Snowboarding as well as telemark skiing were both considered too dangerous, and resorts started banning both all across the country. With few snowboarders willing to hike mountains to be able to ride, Milovich had to close the doors of his Winterstick stores in Utah in 1982.

But Milovich wasn’t done with owning a business. He and a man named Dwain Bush opened a windsurfing shop named Milosport. Later, it became a snowboard shop when the sport started to get back into the mainstream in the late 1980s. (Scheuerman, “Snowboarding”) Milosport is now the most popular snowboard shop in Utah, and has led the pack for snowboarding’s revolution in Utah since 1988.

After years of battling resorts for the return of snowboarding, in 1986 Beaver Mountain in Logan, Utah, was the first resort in Utah to open back up to snowboarders. (Halcomb, Part 1) After the sport of snowboarding stayed in the backcountry and off of the resort slopes for years, places like Brighton Resort, Powder Mountain, Sundance Resort, Snowbird, and many others started to see the return of snowboarding on their slopes. Although resorts all over Utah were welcoming back snowboarders, it wasn’t without stipulations. A rider certification card was required to use a snowboard at most resorts, to indicate that the rider could turn and stop without harming any skiers. (Scheuerman, “Re-search”)

Leading the pack in the fight to bring snowboarding back to resorts across the nation was a man named Dennis Nazari. Nazari was born in California and moved to Utah with his parents as a kid. Although Nazari spent most of his childhood in California, he was quick to pick up skiing and eventually snowboarding in Utah. After searching many ski shops in town, Nazari was able to locate and buy a snowboard at a local ski shop in Salt Lake City, which he rode primarily at Alta Ski Area, until they banned snowboards on Christmas Day of 1984. (Sheehan)

After Alta banned snowboarding, Nazari started the Southwest Surf Skiers Association, a program designed to get snowboards back on the slopes of resorts in Utah. (Halcomb, Part 1)

The SSSA was a program dedicated to educating people about the safety measures of snowboarding, and certifying that snowboarders could safely ride down the hill of a resort without injuring anyone else on hill. Nazari would drive up to Logan on the weekends to educate and certify riders. The rider would get an A, AA, or AAA, depending on how good they were at maneuvering their snowboard, with AAA being the best. (Halcomb, Dennis Nazari) After developing the idea of the rider certification card, Nazari brought snowboarding back to resorts all over Utah. (Sheehan)

Although snowboarding was becoming popular again in 1986, Milovich’s doors were still closed, which meant no one had anywhere to buy a snowboard. So in 1987, Dennis Nazari opened up a shop called Salty Peaks to cater strictly to snowboarding and the people interested in the sport. Not only did the shop sell the only snowboard gear available in Salt Lake City, but Nazari also started an official shop snowboarding team, dubbed the “Salty 8,” Utah’s first snowboarders to be sponsored for riding. All this was helping to make Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah a major hub for the culture and the sport itself. (Scheuerman, “Re-search”)

Utah is home to a very large ski and snowboarding community, so much that the license plates even claim the state has the “Greatest snow on earth.” Snowboarding’s culture and industry will continue to grow around the world as well as in Utah, while creating jobs at resorts, shops, local businesses, and elsewhere in Salt Lake City. With an industry booming and more people moving to Utah for the snow all the time, snowboarding will always have a home in Salt Lake City.

Stephen Konkler is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in communication and minoring in design.

Sources

Erin Halcomb, “Dennis Nazari, an interview by Erin Halcomb,” March 28, 2012, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Erin Halcomb, “Josh Scheuerman, an interview by Erin Halcomb, part 1,” November 8, 2011, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Erin Halcomb, “Josh Scheuerman, an interview by Erin Halcomb, part 2,” December 6, 2011, Everette L Cooley Collection, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Paul J. MacArthur, “Snowboarding, It’s Older Than You Think,” International Skiing Association, December 1, 2016, http://bit.ly/2oVZwMI.

Josh Scheuerman, “Snowboarding in Utah: An Adolescent Sport Grows Up,” Sports Guide, Winter 2009, 10-14. http://bit.ly/2pspLva

Josh Scheuerman, “Re-search and Destroy: A Brief History of Snowboarding’s Roots in Utah,” SLUG Magazine, March 2001, 6-7. http://www.slugmag.com/pdf/147-March-2001.pdf

Sheehan, Gavin. “Salty Peaks.” City Weekly, August 242009. http://bit.ly/2nM5v75

“Snowboard History Timeline, Part 1.” TransWorld Snowboarding, http://bit.ly/2mqe7T7

“Snowboard History Timeline, Part 2.” TransWorld Snowboardinghttp://bit.ly/2mHJeW0

Advertisement for Winterstick, Newsweek, March 1975.

A Look at the Mormon Church Influence in Building the Union Pacific Railroad

by SAMIRA GUIRGUIS

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Mormon surveyors worked in Utah’s Uintah Mountains during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

A civil war and the prospect of a quick fortune from the California Gold Rush left big companies like the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads starving for a labor force. While it is common knowledge that Utah played a role in building the Transcontinental Railroad, an important factor often overlooked is that a big section of it was mostly done by Mormon workers. Power, influence, culture, geography and even a little luck all played a role in why the Mormons were perfect candidates for this job. (KUED)

In 1868, Union Pacific, desperate for workers and approaching Utah Territory, needed to recruit a lot of workers, including surveyors who knew the lay of the land against the intimidating Wasatch Mountain Range. Who better for this job than Mormon leader Brigham Young, who not only had access to a large number of workers, but also men with the discipline and sobriety of their faith? In fact, Mormons were so influential in the building of the railroad tracks that songs were even written about them.

In the Canyon of Echo, there’s a railroad begun,

And the Mormons are cutting and grading like fun;

They say they’ll stick to it until it’s complete,

For friends and relations they’re longing to meet.

Hurray! Hurrah! The railroad’s begun!

Three cheers for our contractor, his name’s Brigham Young!

Hurray! Hurrah! We’re light-hearted and gay,

Just the right kind of boys to build a railway. … (“Echo Canyon”)

The clean, sober, and polite Mormons stood out in stark contrast to the hard drinking, “wild west-type” of most other railroad company crews. Instead of whisky-induced boisterousness, gambling and “soiled doves,” the Mormon campsites operated under orderly and religious governance. (Miller, 102). Deseret News assistant editor Edward Lennox Sloan noted, “In but one camp of less than one hundred men, out of between two and three thousand working in the canyons, did I hear profanity.” The only evidence of any problem between other crews and Mormon crews was good natured “horse play” such as those cited in The Golden Spike, like hiding each other’s equipment, turning horses loose in the middle of the night and, in one example, dropping a rattlesnake into a nearby camp’s soup kettle. (Miller, 199)

Union_Pacific_Railroad__Construction_P__13

Union Pacific Railroad workers construct tunnel no. 2 at the head of Echo Canyon, Utah. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

Mormons proved to be excellent surveyors. They knew the lay of the land better than any outsider possibly could and grew up in a culture that highly valued the creation of records with meticulous detail. One only need look at the LDS genealogy to understand that. Consequently, Mormon surveyors drew detailed maps to help engineers determine the path of least resistance. (KUED) On one account, “Mormon workers became experts in the use of nitroglycerin ‘blasting oils’ and other explosives… Their sobriety would prove to be an advantage, indeed.” (Stewart, 93)

The Mormon Church used notices in the advertising section of the Deseret News to elicit help. For example, “MESSRS. Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young, Junr., and John W. Young, agents for President Brigham Young, left this city on the 8th inst., for the head of Echo Canon, to let contracts for grading on the Union Pacific Railroad…. Parties wishing contracts on that road can now start their men.… About 10,000 men will be wanted. (“Notice”) In fact, there weren’t enough men in the area, so Brigham Young sent letters to his friend and apostle Franklin D. Richards, encouraging him to send newly converted Mormons from Europe to Utah in order to keep a steady flow of workers. (Stevens, 17)

Union_Pacific_Railroad__Construction_P__3

Mormon laborers grade the Union Pacific line at the mouth of Weber Canyon, Utah. Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

There’s also a mention that “fit men—immigrating from England to Zion could ride from Omaha to the end of the line free of charge if they agreed to work for the railroad.” (Stewart, 183) This fact is important because it kept the work in Utah hands; the wealth didn’t go to other places to be invested. Interestingly enough, Mormon crews worked for both the UP and CP lines east and west of each other. This competition between the two companies allowed the Mormons to increase their wages by starting bidding wars between the two companies. (Stewart, 198)

Despite working hard and being praised for their skill, there was a huge debt scandal and many Mormon workers weren’t paid for months, sometimes not at all. (Stewart, 177) One good thing did come from this experience: working with the Union Pacific gave Utahns the knowledge of how to make their own railroads rather than relying on big companies like the Union Pacific for future building. More importantly, it armed Utah with the economic power to grow. (Miller, 122) Having the manpower and new income, Brigham Young could now choose where the next railroad line would go and thus have a direct route pass through Salt Lake City. The railroad brought change to Utah, which was unsettling, but it also brought a bigger barter system, immigrants, and information. Brigham Young knew he couldn’t stop the railroad from coming. So, he prepared for its inevitability, making sure his people didn’t miss out on the economic opportunity and at the same time showing the world that the Mormons were a hardworking, selfless people (KUED).

Sources


“Notice,” Deseret News, June 17, 1868, 4.

Emrich, Duncan, ed. “Echo Canyon” in Songs of the Mormons and Songs of the West, from the Archive of Folk Song. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1952.

Miller, David E. The Golden Spike. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, University of Utah Press, 1973.

Stevens, Thomas M. “The Union Pacific Railroad and the Mormon Church, 1868-1871: An In-depth Study of the Financial Aspects of Brigham Young’s Grading Contract and Its Ultimate Settlement.” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972.

Stewart, John J. The Iron Trail to the Golden Spike. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1969.

The Media’s Role in Citizens’ Perceptions of Topaz, the Japanese Internment Camp in Utah

by Elizabeth Fields

The media have always played a role in our history. More than simply relaying the news, media dictate which stories deserve our attention, whether or not we are aware of it. Sometimes subtle and sometimes not, the media mold our values and opinions through careful choice of language and selection of which stories to tell. In the case of the Japanese internment facility located in Delta, Utah, the media’s influence over the public proved to be no different. Through the alienation of Japanese-American citizens and normalization of internment facilities, Utah media placated its citizens and prevented them from being able to recognize Topaz as being inhumane and unjust.

WRA official

Internees began arriving at the Central Utah Relocation Center, known as Topaz, on September 11, 1942. This article from the August 27, 1942, issue of the Millard County Chronicle, was typical of the coverage.

Described as being “one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history,” the upheaval and relocation of many Japanese-American citizens during World War II was set in motion on February 19, 1942, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. (history.com) This order authorized the creation of military zones along the West Coast and stipulated that individuals who were considered a threat to national security could be relocated to internment facilities located farther inland. The order soon was used to justify the removal of Japanese-Americans who were suspected of having an allegiance to Japan. Forced to put their jobs and education on hold and to give up their homes and most of their possessions, more than 120,000 citizens were sent to internment camps in states including Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado, where they were closely monitored to ensure that they could not assist the enemy. The Central Utah Relocation Center, more commonly known as Topaz for the mountain to the west, officially opened on September 11, 1942. By the time it closed, it had housed more than 11,000 detainees. (topazmuseum.org)

American citizens who did not have ties to Japan had been primed by the media to distrust and dislike Japanese culture, both domestic and abroad, since the beginning of America’s involvement in WW II. In the months leading up to the opening of Topaz, Utah citizens were exposed to hateful, racist terminology degrading their perception of the Japanese. On January 6, 1942, the Salt Lake Telegram reported that American soldiers were “killing the cocky little invaders like flies,” quite literally dehumanizing the foreign enemy. On January 5, 1942, the Salt Lake Telegram relished the thought of American allies writing “in rivers of Japanese blood.” This violent rhetoric set the stage for internment camps to open without question or opposition from the American public. It is important to note that Utah media consistently referred to the Japanese enemy as “Japs” in nearly any article written about the progress of the war.

In September 1942, when Japanese-American citizens began arriving at Topaz, the media also referred to these camp residents as “Japs.” On August 27, the Millard County Chronicle published an article under the headline, “WRA Officials Arrive to Take Over Jap Camp.” In the same issue, a separate article advertised cheap labor provided by internees and provided details about “how the Japs can be got, the regulations, and other information.” In this particular story, the language is eerily reminiscent of historical articles advertising slave labor. Utah media did not even bother to differentiate between the Japanese enemy and the Japanese-American citizen. Instead, the media lumped the two populations together using the same racial slur. Immediately, citizens living outside of internment camps differentiated the Japanese-American citizens as being in a separate category from themselves and associated them with the enemy. In some cases, citizens may not have even made a distinction between citizens and the enemy because the two shared the same epithet.

To further Utah’s ignorance to the injustice at play, Utah media completely normalized the Topaz internment camp by publishing mundane, day-to-day happenings at the camp, none of which included any of the harsh realities of life at Topaz. One of the most insulting articles was published in the Salt Lake Telegram on December 30, 1942, with the headline, “You Wouldn’t Trade Places.” It suggested that those living outside internment camps were actually experiencing some kind of envy. The article observed: “There are all sorts of rumors—that the Japanese evacuees from California live there in style, that they are being fed far better than most Americans.” The article described the minimalistic lifestyle of internment camp, but then assured readers, “Certainly they are being treated decently … the food is wholesome…. Although not being pampered, they are being very fairly treated.” It even claimed that the Japanese-American citizens enjoyed the work they did at the camp, saying, “Work becomes desirable as a pastime.” In reality, life at Topaz was anything but fair. According to the Densho Encyclopedia,

“Many of the apartments were not finished when inmates arrived. The prisoners had to endure especially cold conditions until gypsum board was installed on the walls and ceilings… Ill health was common at Topaz… Several prisoners reported how this … traumatized them and prevented them from ever feeling fully secure in camp.”

On December 17, 1942, the Millard County Chronicle published an article detailing the plans for a Christmas party to be held at Topaz: “This will be a large scale operation, purposed by the WRA [War Relocation Authority] to promote good will, [and] to show the proper Christian spirit.” The brief article clearly applauded the righteousness of the WRA and completely dismissed the fact that internees could not be in their own home with their friends and extended family to celebrate. Many of the internees were not Christian and did not even observe Christmas as a holiday. This article reinforced the concept that they they were comfortable and happy, perhaps even lucky. This complete misconception of the reality of living in an internment camp prevented Utahns from recognizing the injustice of the situation.

The last and perhaps one of the most significant elements in keeping Utah citizens silent was the Espionage Act. This act prevented anyone from publishing material conveying “anti-patriotic” sentiments. More than an act of censorship, the Espionage Act reflected a deep-rooted fear that citizens of Japanese descent felt a stronger alliance to Japan than to America that would cause them to betray their country. On May 28, 1942, the Millard County Chronicle wrote,

“What shall we do with Japanese aliens to prevent possible espionage and sabotage?… Many of the Japanese, especially those of American birth, were loyal to the United States. But their fathers and mothers were aliens. It was to be expected that a considerable number of these would be tied to Japan by bonds of race and nationality.”

The Espionage Act only encouraged feelings of distrust toward the Japanese and furthered the media’s contempt for them. To write in opposition of Topaz would be to risk interrogation or even detainment. Simply put, it was unsafe to openly protest Topaz. Had it not been for the Espionage Act, perhaps Utah media would have exposed the truth about Topaz and the public would have had the ability to resist.

As Americans when we think of World War II, we think of bravery and sacrifice. We think of the grainy, black and white footage of victorious soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima. We think of Rosie in her red bandana, proudly pulling her denim sleeve across her flexed arm and proclaiming, “We Can Do It!” We think of the famous photograph of a young soldier home from war, in the streets of New York kissing a stranger out of pure elation. We do not think of an American Japanese family leaving their home in San Francisco to be locked away in an internment camp in Utah. We do not think of a young American Japanese student, forced to halt his education to be unjustifiably imprisoned. We do not think of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, careers, and aspirations to satiate the racism of a fearful country. We do not think of it, but we should. Through alienation, false justification, and writing within the boundaries of the Espionage Act, Utah media placated citizens and manipulated them to believe that Topaz and facilities like it were just and necessary.

Today still, our country faces prejudice every day that is perpetuated by our media. With the understanding of the injustice of Topaz, we are better able to critically analyze the sources we rely upon and protect those who our media would wrongfully have us fear.

Elizabeth Fields is studying strategic communication at The University of Utah.

Sources

“They Fought Like Demons,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 5, 1942, 8.

“The Japs Take a Beating,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 6, 1942, 6.

“The Story of 112,000 Japanese in America,” Millard County Chronicle, May 28, 1942, 8.

“WRA Officials Arrive to Take over Jap Camp,” Millard County Chronicle, August 27, 1942, 1.

“Utah County Wants Topaz Jap Laborers,” Millard County Chronicle, September 27, 1942, 8.

“To Hold Xmas Festivities at Topaz,” Millard County Chronicle, December 17, 1942, 1.

“You Wouldn’t Trade Places,” Salt Lake Telegram, December 30, 1942, 6.

“Japanese-American Relocation.” History.com, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation.

“Topaz.” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Topaz.

“Topaz Camp.” Topaz Museum, http://www.topazmuseum.org/topaz-camp.

 

Utah’s Role in Nuclear Testing During the Early 1950s

by ZACH CARLSON

The early 1950s were a tumultuous time for the United States of America. The Red Scare was well into effect, the Korean War was raging on, and Soviet Russia’s nuclear capabilities were looming on the horizon. These issues carried into 1951, marking the beginning of the new year with nuclear testing in what is now known as the Nevada Proving Grounds. The Proving Grounds are 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. On January 27, 1951, the United States began dropping nuclear bombs to test the effect of them.

NTS_-_Warning_handbill

The U. S. Atomic Energy Commission distributed handbills such as this one before the first series of tests was conducted. The public is advised that there is “no danger” to individuals living outside the testing area. The Downwinders of Utah Archive, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

On January 4, 1951, the Iron County Record published an article stating, “We must pull out of Korea completely and stop useless sacrifice…. The A-bomb should be used if it will help our forces in Korea.” These lines tell us how local community members felt about the political situation then. Later in the article it is stated that “not a single letter expressed actual terror at the thought of another war and the possibility of A-bombs being used against us. War … is better than attempted appeasement of aggressors.” The local citizens would rather be exposed to the effects of nuclear radiation than roll over to the enemy. Little did they know, they got what they wished for.

In late January 1951, nearly a dozen nuclear bomb tests took place. The Salt Lake Telegram published an article on January 29, 1951, discussing how the 10th and 11th atomic blasts had affected locals. The bombs rattled casinos over 60 miles away in Las Vegas. The newspaper also reported on the wide number of complaints from citizens: “Citizens generally were not pleased. The police department got four calls per minute for a half hour.” Beyond this general grumble and discontent from Las Vegas and Utah residents, public fervor died down for a while.

A conference was held at the University of Utah in May 1951 on the subject of nuclear testing and specifically how Americans had been kept sheltered from just what nuclear bombs and energy could do when compared to other countries. An article published in the Salt Lake Telegram on May 19 discussed how the United States had recently declassified and made public a large amount of nuclear information. The author rightfully draws a connection between this now-public knowledge and citizens, especially Utahns and Nevadans, having such an up-close experience with nuclear bombs.

fig1

This image was published in a February 1955 information booklet produced by the AEC for people who lived near the Nevada test site.

Later in 1951, multiple nuclear tests were delayed because “light winds” could spell death and disease for local residents of Utah. The Salt Lake Telegram reported in November that “the postponement was the third in as many days.” This tells us just how common and deadly these light winds could be.

In April 1952, the United States began testing the effects of nuclear fallout on troops. The Salt Lake Telegram discussed how from 10 miles away the heat from the blast singed the hair off of people’s faces. The heat was described as a “blast furnace.” The soldiers had dug fox holes only 4 miles away from ground zero, subjecting themselves to extremely unhealthy doses of radiation.

For over a year, the continued nuclear testing didn’t receive much attention, as it just became a part of day-to-day life except for when it caused a much greater inconvenience. In May 1953 residents of Cedar City and southern Utah, specifically St. George, were asked to stay in their homes and not leave or drive anywhere. The problem lasted longer than one would expect; the radiation lingered in the air days after the nuclear test. The levels of radiation were deemed safe by the Atomic Energy Commission. The Iron County Record reported on May 21, 1953, that “the levels of radiation produced outside the test control area were in no way harmful to humans, animals or crops.”

Poisoning from radiation takes time to rear its ugly head in the form of cancer, birth defects, and other unfortunate symptoms. Janet Burton Seegmiller writes in The History of Iron County that:

Relatively few Iron County residents were aware of or concerned about nuclear testing when the first mushroom-shaped cloud rose into the western skies and drifted to the northeast in 1951, but the cloud figuratively remains over southern Utah and Nevada to this day. Residents live with every day what the cloud left behind that the eye could not see. There are no southwestern Utah neighborhoods or communities that have not been touched by the tragedy of cancer or birth defects or lingering bitterness over human and financial losses.

These people had been promised by their own government that they would be safe throughout the nuclear testing. They had been lied to. Seegmiller discusses that declassified documents show even back in the late 1940s it was painfully aware to scientists that this was hazardous to human and livestock.

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) proceeded to continue with the tests, anyway. Sheep began to have burns on their faces and miscarry fetuses that had deformities. Those that survived to birth would often die due to other deformities. Everyone still believed the government when it reassured the citizens that everything was fine. In 1984, the United States District Court ruled in Allen v. United States that “fallout caused human deaths and the federal government was negligent in failing to warn residents.” But the government won a reversal on appeal on the grounds of national security. On May 11, 1984, the New York Times reported that a federal district judge ruled that ”the Government was negligent in failing to warn residents who lived in the path of fallout plumes about the danger of radioactive contaminations.” The government again appealed the decision. In Utah, The Right Place, Thomas G. Alexander writes, “Although they knew or suspected the danger from the fallout, they did not tell the people… that they stood in risk of cancer or leukemia. Rather, AEC officials publicly lied about the danger.”

In 1990, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was passed. The government apologized to its very own citizens, now known as the Downwinders, and established a compensation program to help individuals who contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases. On March 2, 2015, the Department of Justice reported that it had awarded more than $2 billion in “compassionate compensation to eligible claimants” under the act.

Zach Carlson is a student at The University of Utah. He is pursuing a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. Zach is an avid consumer of movies, video games, and books, and loves dogs.

Sources

“Let’s Hear from the People,” Iron County Record, January 4, 1951, 2.

“Nevada Area Braces for More A-Blasts,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 29, 1951 3.

“The Big Question,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 19, 1951, 4.

“Storm Delays Atomic Tests,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 26, 1951, 7.

“Wrong-Way Wind Postpones Nevada A-Test” Salt Lake Telegram, November 17, 1951, 2.

“Mighty A-Bomb Slams Troops,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 22, 1952.

“Plan ‘Most Daring’ A-Bomb, Troop Maneuvers,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 26, 1952, 3.

“Atomic Winds – Fall-out,” Iron County Record, May 21, 1953, 2.

Alexander, Thomas G. Utah, The Right Place: The Official Centennial History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gibbs Smith Publishers, 2003.

Peterson, Iver. “U.S. Ruled Negligent in A-Tests Followed by Nine Cancer Deaths.New York Times, May 11, 1984. http://lib.utah.edu/services/geospatial/downwinders/

Seegmiller, Janet Burton. A History of Iron County: Community Above Self. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998.

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

by HALIE BERRY

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.

State_Fair

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.

Utah_State_Fair_Association___Trotters

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)

Utah_State_Fair___P_26

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.

Sources

“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, http://utahstatefair.com/history

Fahys, Judy. “State Fair Park’s Future Remains Uncertain.” KUER, June 19, 2014, http://kuer.org/post/state-fair-parks-future-remains-uncertain#stream/0

Grimmett, Brian. “Utah State Fair Under-Attended and Over-Subsidized.” KUER, March 27, 2014, http://bit.ly/2pm6r2R.

Luhm, Steve. History of Horse Racing in Utah.” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2006http://bit.ly/2plUp9n.

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, http://bsun.md/21ALmMz.

 

 

Creation of the WAACs and their Arrival to Utah, 1943

by NICOLE COWDELL

In September 1939, German armies invaded Poland and the world was forever changed. The resulting war involved a dozen countries, took upwards of 60 million lives and altered the worldly perceptions for generations to come. However, this story is not strictly about the war. Instead, this story focuses on a unique group of individuals who answered the call when their country needed them. This story is about strength, courage and independence. This story is about breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes. This story is about the formation of the United States Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. The WAAC was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. The first units started training in July and by 1943 units were sent out across the nation. In May 1943, one of those units arrived in Utah.

On May 18, 1943, the Transcript Bulletin reported that a WAAC unit comprised of 92 women arrived at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Tooele, Utah. One of the first units to be sent out, their arrival marks an important point in history. The article goes on to say that “although situated almost in the middle of the desert, the morale of the detachment is said to be unusually high.” The women there were replacing soldiers in positions such as “chemical work, laboratory aides, chauffeurs, truck drivers and other work connected with the operation of the post.”

Of particular note, was the fact that the unit was entirely self-sufficient. On that same day, the Transcript Bulletin also reported the unit was doing “their own cooking, laundry and the many details to maintain the camp.”

The Dugway Proving Grounds was a unique assignment for the women, as it was tasked with a very specific goal by the U.S. War Department. The grounds were set up in order to test and experiment with chemical warfare methods due to the growing usage of such weapons in the World War II battlefields. Needing a spacious, unpopulated area, the War Department looked to Western Utah as the ideal location. There, “tests with toxic agents, flame throwers and chemical spray systems were performed.” (Ison, 1)

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Advertisements, including this one published in the May 15, 1943, issue of The Salt Lake Tribune, urged women to support military men by joining the WAAC.

The WAACs’ arrival was seemingly perfectly timed, for earlier that same week the Governor of Utah, Herbert B. Maw, declared the week of May 10 to 15 as WAAC Week. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the week was to be recognized statewide for “the first anniversary of the women’s auxiliary army corps…for the purpose of taking over many of the army’s noncombat jobs.” (May 10, 1943, p.16) In his address to the public, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Governor Maw said the WAAC “has rendered important services to the army by performing more than 100 different types of work formerly done by soldiers needed on the fighting fronts.”

On May 12, 1943, the Salt Lake Tribune reported recruiting would “be the principal feature of the week.” Though the WAAC had already recruited over 60,000 members, the goal was set to quickly add another 110,000 recruits and send them off to training.

Since the primary focus would be recruitment, that week the Salt Lake Tribune featured a variety of ads for the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. One featured on page 10 on May 15, 1943, declared largely that the women in the WAAC were “the luckiest girls alive – and we know it! The need is great – the need is NOW!,” it said, sparking patriotism and desperately trying to appeal to the American women who could help fill the wartime void. It seemed great pride was placed upon the women as they bravely entered into unknown territory to dutifully help their country during wartime.

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Ads such as this one, published in the May 15, 1943, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune, emphasized duty and patriotism and encouraged women to seek more information about the program.

The women who enlisted also received much praise from their communities. In fact, updates of women who signed up were frequently printed in the papers. Since Tooele was home to one of the units serving at Dugway, it should come as no shock that they were particularly proud of their women. On March 23, 1943, the Transcript Bulletin announced that “Miss Eva C. Brough … left Tooele Saturday for Salt Lake headquarters prior to her departure for Fort Des Moines, Iowa.” The announcement made the front page and was printed above the announcement of two marines leaving for training soon. This is just one of many examples of communities rallying behind men and women supporting the nation’s war efforts.

The community, both local and farther away in Salt Lake City, welcomed the Dugway Proving Grounds unit and continued to encourage more enlistments. The WAAC even received praise from the nation’s president. Printed on page 12 of the Salt Lake Tribune on May 16, 1943, President Roosevelt said, “I congratulate the WAACs and express the gratitude of our nation for a task well commenced.”

The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps became simply the Women’s Army Corps in July 1943 but the units’ story doesn’t end there. Women continued to dutifully, though separately, serve in the military until 1978 when the WAC was finally fully absorbed into the United States Army. Even then though, the battle for equality and recognition still continued. Though the creation, implementation and ultimate success of the Women’s Army Corps worked to break down gender stereotypes, women were still not seen as fully fit for combative military positions. Even once absorbed in the army, they were withheld from holding combat positons for years to come. Not until December 2015, close to 74 years after the creation of the WAAC, would women finally be allowed to occupy combat roles in all areas of the United States military.

On December 3, 2015, the New York Times published an article which stated “the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women.” The newspaper also called this decision a “historic transformation,” a “groundbreaking decision” and “the latest in a long march of inclusive steps by the military.” As the fight continues around the nation, and the globe, for women’s equality the WAC and its legacy are a heart-filled reminder of all those who came before us and the accomplishments they strived to achieve.

Nicole Cowdell is a senior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Sources

“Maw Signals Start of WAAC Week: Governor Cites Opportunities Waiting Recruits,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 10, 1943, 16.

“Conference Opens Drive to Hike WAAC Total,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1943, 14.

Advertisement for WAAC Enlistment, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 10.

“The WAAC…Its First Birthday Just Passed…On They March,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 11.

“WAACS Gain Praise of U.S. President,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 12.

“92 WAACS Arrive at Dugway: Morale High as Ladies Adjust to Desert Life,” The Transcript Bulletin, May 18, 1943, 1.

“All Combat Roles Now Open to Women, Defense Secretary Says,” The New York Times, December 3, 2015, 1.

Ison, Yvette. “Chemical Weapons Testing Created Controversy at Dugway.” The History Blazer (July 1995): 41-42.

Williams, Vera. WACs: Women’s Army Corps. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International, 1997.

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

by ALEX PAGOAGA

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?’”

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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.

Sources

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. http://bit.ly/2qfSYZE