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Highlights from Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947

Utah in 1947

Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947

Dateline: June 14, 2023.

Physiography. - The surface has an average elevation of 6,000 feet above sea level and is generally mountainous. The lofty Wasatch Range, forest-clad and extending nearly north and south, divides the State into two unequal parts, which are interspersed with plains and valleys. The larger eastern part is occupied mostly by a series of plateaus cut by river canyons. The west forms part of the Great Basin and most of it is a desert having an elevation of 5,000 feet. There are many small mountain ranges. Great Salt Lake, the most prominent natural feature, is 80 miles long and from 25 miles to 35 miles wide. The Great American Desert lies southwest of this lake. Utah's soil is, in general, a sedimentary loam which is very productive when watered. Sagebrush on the arid plains and grasses on the higher slopes form the chief features of the vegetation. The rainfall is not abundant enough to insure crops; but the soil, no matter how arid, when irrigated, proves to be extremely rich and yields immense crops. Irrigation reservoirs are increasing in number and rapidly enlarging the productive area of the State. The climate is healthful, though extreme temperatures have been recorded, 116° F. and —50° F.

Minerals. - Utah is rich in minerals. There are immense deposits of coal, copper, and lead. Gold and silver are also found. Asphalt, salt, gypsum, zinc, and lime are also largely produced. Building stone and fictile clays are found in several counties. In 1943, the value of gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc production was $124,562,540.

Agriculture. - The chief crops are hay, wheat, potatoes, oats, barley, and sugar beets. Other important products are alfalfa, rye, corn, and orchard fruits, especially apples and peaches, the conditions being very favorable for their culture. The livestock industry is a major industry, the lands available for grazing comprising about one-third of the State. Sheep grazing is prominent, and the wool clip in 1945 was 17,901,000 pounds. The acreage of tillable land has been steadily enlarged by dry farming as well as by irrigation. In 1942 more than 1,300,000 acres were under irrigation. Dairying has become a profitable industry, a large amount of creamery products being shipped to eastern markets.

Manufacturing. - Manufactures have steadily grown in importance, but received a setback during the depression of 1929. Beet-sugar refining, ore smelting, flour milling, meat packing, dairy products, car shop construction, and the canning of fruits and vegetables are the principal industries.

Commerce. - The longest railroads serving the State are the Denver and Rio Grande and the Union Pacific. The total railway mileage is 2,071.

History. - A detachment from Coronado's exploring expedition is said to have visited this region in 1540, but the first authentic explorations were made in the summer of 1776 when a party of Franciscan friars reached Utah Lake. James Bridger, a trapper, discovered Great Salt Lake in 1824. William Ashley established a fur-trading post on Utah Lake in 1825. Fremont visited this territory in 1843, and Mormons under Brigham Young made the first permanent settlement in 1847 at Salt Lake City, and organized the so-called State of Deseret. By 1848 there were over 5,000 Mormons in the State. The territory within the present boundaries of Utah was part of the Spanish and Mexican possessions until the war with Mexico, in 1848, when it was ceded to the United States with other territory. Congress refused to recognize Deseret, however, and organized the Territory of Utah in 1850, including what is now Nevada. Utah was admitted as a State into the Union in 1896.

Mormon Temple and State Capital Building, Salt Lake City, 1947