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A Tour through Time - Part 7

A New Century and New Changes

children on a horse

Some Greek kids in the early 20th century.

In the period between 1896 and 1917, Utah adjusted its economic, social, and political life to resemble that of the rest of America. State government and the codification of Utah law began, and the state capitol was built.

The federal government set aside lands for national parks, monuments, and forests.

The percentage of Mormons in the total population declined to 68 percent as the state grew. Mining and heavy industry drew many ethnic groups to Utah. The Greeks, Japanese, Hispanics, African Americans, Chinese, and others changed the social and cultural life of the state. This was especially true of Carbon, Salt Lake, and Weber counties.

Changes in Work

Less than a third of the people worked on farms, although the total area farmed increased. Utah continued to pioneer in dry farming techniques, while irrigation allowed more land to be farmed. Sheep and cattle competed for range lands, and the railroad centers at Ogden and Salt Lake City helped the livestock processing industry.


A fortune of silver had been taken from Utah mines in the nineteenth century. In the early 20th century the big story was the development of copper mining. Daniel C. Jackling made open-pit mining of low grade ore profitable.

The expansion of the railroad made coal mining profitable. Mine owners built company towns in Carbon County for coal workers. Many of these workers were recent immigrants to America.

Safety and labor

men at mine entrance

Rescue workers bring bodies from the Winter Quarters mine in May 1900.

At times conflicts occurred between the mine managers and workers, who wanted higher pay and safer working conditions.

At Scofield in 1900, an explosion in the Winter Quarters Mine killed 200 men. This catastrophe signaled the end of an era. Never again would miners be as willing to endure dangerous working conditions for so little pay. The state passed important laws to benefit the workers and their families. Many workers joined unions to help them deal with management problems.

Growing Cities

Modern cities emerged quickly as electricity, telephones, and automobiles became more common. The building of business blocks, power plants, highways, and housing for average citizens contributed to city development. Population continued to grow and to concentrate along the Wasatch Front in Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah counties.

Part 8: American Indians: Conflicts and betrayal

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