Salt Lake County
When the Mormon pioneers entered the valley in 1847, following their historic westward trek, they found evidence of prehistoric Indians, as well as bands of Northern Shoshone and Ute Indians, who hunted and fished in the area. With self-sufficiency a major goal, the pioneers established basic industries to supply everything from pottery to printing paper and experimented in growing all kinds of plants. In 1862, US troops established Fort Douglas to protect communications and transportation routes. Tens of thousands of Mormon immigrants funneled through Salt Lake City to outlying settlements. Travelers headed to California found supplies in the city as well. As the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—and later as the territorial and state capital-- Salt Lake City and its county have always been the center of population, political power and economic strength.
Mines in Alta and Bingham, smelters in Midvale and Murray and the Salt Lake Mining and Stock Exchange made the county a regional mining hub, in the early 20th century. One of the world’s great open pit copper mines—the Bingham Canyon mine—drew immigrant workers from Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia and other countries.
Home to Utah’s largest public university—the University of Utah—Salt Lake County today is a center of medical research and high-tech industry. Mountain mining towns evolved into tourism attractions, when skiers discovered that the Wasatch Mountains provide some of the best winter sports terrain in the world. In 2002, Salt Lake hosted the Winter Olympic Games, welcoming the world to this beautiful city, which sits at the crossroads of the