On this day in 1896, Utah became the 45th state to enter the Union. The mysteries of this state may surprise you—and no, not all of it has to do with Mormons. Here are 6 facts you probably never knew about this western state...
Utah’s State Bird Is the Seagull Utah may be landlocked, but the seagull holds a special place in the hearts of Utah’s residents. According to the story, settlers that arrived early in the area almost starved when crickets arrived in swarms to decimate their crops. The story goes on to say that a flock of seagulls arrived in the knick of time in 1848 and stayed for two weeks gorging themselves on those destructive crickets, and the crops were saved. True or not, a statue dedicated to those hero seagulls can be found outside the assembly hall in Salt Lake.
Utah Is Home to Five National Parks The average state has just 1.18 national parks, but Utah is home to five because of its impressive and beautiful fauna, flora, and landscapes. Zion National Park with its red cliffs, forest trails, and river is one of the most visited in the country. In addition, the state boasts Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef, which offer exciting areas to explore.
Jurassic-Era Dinosaurs Apparently Loved the Area that Became Utah Utah is a favorite spot for archaeologists because of its dense concentration of fossils from the Jurassic era. More than 12,000 bones — from at least 74 dinosaurs — have so far been excavated. One of the big mysteries of this ancient grave site is the presence of so many animals, and that around 75% of the bones found came from meat-eaters.
It’s Home to The Heaviest Known Organism in The World
Pando, the “trembling giant,” is an aspen grove located in the Fish Lake National Forest. However, Pando is not a large group of trees but one single organism that spreads over 107 acres. Each of the approximately 47,000 or so trees in the grove is genetically identical and all the trees share a single root system. It’s believed that the tree is 80,000 years old, although there are other theories that place it closer to a million years old. As a whole, the entity is estimated to weigh around 13 million pounds.
Utah Has Tough Liquor Laws About 62 percent of those living in Utah are Latter-Day Saints, so the state has strict laws with regard to liquor. Beer that is more than 4 percent alcohol is not sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, or taverns. Until 2017, frosted barriers made of glass and known as Zion Curtains were installed in bars so patrons could not see the bartender mixing drinks. Why? It's because supporters of this practice thought it might glamorize bartenders and tempt youngsters to try alcohol.
Utah is Home to KFC Despite the name, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant actually opened in Salt Lake City. Colonel Sanders began his chicken career at a roadside restaurant in Kentucky during the Great Depression, but the first of the franchise opened out west in 1952.