Fleeing religious persecution in the East and Midwest, the Mormons arrived in 1847 and began to build Salt Lake City. The U.S. acquired the Utah region in the treaty ending the Mexican War in 1848, and the first transcontinental railroad was completed with the driving of a golden spike at Promontory Summit in 1869.
Mormon difficulties with the federal government about polygamy did not end until the Mormon Church renounced the practice in 1890, six years before Utah became a state.
Rich in natural resources, Utah has long been a leading producer of copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, potassium salts, and molybdenum. Oil and natural gas have also become major products. Utah is the only state that produces gilsonite, a pure form of asphalt used in dark colored printing inks and paints, oil well drilling muds and cements, asphalt modifiers, foundry sands additives, and a wide variety of chemical products.
The state's top agricultural commodities include cattle and calves, dairy products, hay, greenhouse and nursery products, and hogs.
Utah's traditional industries of agriculture and mining are complemented by increased tourism and growing aerospace, biomedical, and computer-related businesses.
Utah is a great vacationland with 11,000 mi of fishing streams and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs. Among the many tourist attractions are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks; Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, Timpanogos Cave, and Grand Staircase (Escalante) National Monuments; the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City; and Monument Valley. Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Utah is also host to the internationally known Sundance Film Festival. Held every January, Sundance is one of the largest independent film festivals in the United States. In 2012, there were 46,731 attendees. In 2013, a record 12,146 films were submitted and the festival had 1,803 volunteers.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Maude Adams actress;
- Roseanne Barr actress;
- Frank Borzage film director and producer;
- John M. Browning inventor;
- Butch Cassidy outlaw;
- Laraine Day actress;
- Bernard De Voto writer;
- Avard Fairbanks sculptor;
- Philo Farnsworth television pioneer;
- Jake Garn senator;
- Anthony Geary actor;
- John Gilbert actor;
- Jon Huntsman former governor, political figure;
- Jewel singer, songwriter;
- J. Willard Marriott restaurant and hotel chain founder;
- Peter Skene Ogden fur trader and trapper;
- Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond singers;
- Ivy Baker Priest U.S. treasurer;
- Lee Greene Richards painter;
- Leroy Robertson composer;
- Brent Scowcroft business executive and consultant;
- Reed Smoot first Mormon elected to U.S. Senate;
- Mack Swain actor;
- Everett Thorpe painter;
- Robert Walker actor;
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead actor;
- James Woods actor;
- Brigham Young territory governor and religious leader;
- Loretta Young actress;
- Steve Young football player.