Ancient Pueblo cultures, known as the Anasazi and Fremont Indians, raised corn in southern Utah from about 1 A.D. to 1300, and left remnants of their art, lives and beliefs scattered across the state in petroglyph and pictograph panels, and ruins of their homes and places of worship. Predecessors of the Ute and Navajo Tribes roamed the region for centuries before the arrival of explorers from outside the region.
In 1776, as Americans battled for independence from England, Catholic Fathers Dominguez and Escalante explored and documented Utah's terrain. They were followed by other Spanish explorers and Mexican traders. In the 1820's fur trappers, including Jedediah Smith, William Ashley and Jim Bridger, discovered northern Utah's abundant trapping opportunities. During 1847, 1,637 Mormons migrated to the Salt Lake Valley seeking religious freedom, followed by soldiers, miners, and sheep herders. By the time the first transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory, Utah, in May of 1869, more than 60,000 Mormons had come to Utah by covered wagon or handcart.
Utahns, regardless of varied ethnic and religious backgrounds, share a sense that Utah's past is an important part of the state's future. From early settlement days, the cultural arts have been an important component of cities and towns across the state. Today, this tradition remains. Many communities produce pageants, plays and other events that showcase Utah's culture and heritage. Some of these productions have religious or historical themes, some are satirical and poke fun at our unique culture.