July 26, 2012
Continuing our celebration of our 50 states, we only have 46 to go after Utah.
Of course, Utah, our 45th state, is a tough state to follow, because there’s no state remotely like it.
For example, why would Utah make the California Seagull their own state bird?
Right away you know Utah is different.
The name itself comes from the Ute tribe, meaning “people of the mountains.”
Recent anthropological studies confirm that Man first beheld Utah’s spectacular lakes, deserts and skiing possibilities some 12,000 years ago.
In its early history, such hunter-gatherers as the Shoshones, Southern Paiutes, Goshutes, Navajos and the aforementioned Utes called Utah their home.
The first Europeans came around 1776, when Spanish missionaries Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez opened the Old Spanish trail, between Santa Fe and Utah Lake.
The Mormons, led by Brigham Young arrived in 1847, bringing their wisdom, cultural heritage and polygamy to the region.
Polygamy is a complicated issue today. While the Mormon Church remains opposed to polygamy, there are several offshoots of the Church that still practice it.
Which could account for "Utah, this is the Place" (its state song) being the place with the highest percentage of residents under 18 in the country.
Utah is also the home of the largest dinosaur footprints in the world, belonging to the duck-billed Hadrosaurid. Not much is known about their mating habits.
And Utah, lest anyone think they’re not progressive, (depending on how you view polygamy) has recently passed the stiffest texting while driving law in the U.S.
Because now, on any of the 940 miles of Interstate routes running the length of the state’s major urban areas, and the many side roads, you can get three months in jail and a $750 fine for texting behind the wheel.
And if you cause injury or worse, while texting, you can get 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Naturally there is still no law against talking on a cell phone while driving.
As I said, Utah is a tough act to follow.