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Tour through Time - Part 9

World Wars and Depression

historic photo

Maud Fitch, an ambulance driver during World War I.

Beginning with World War I, events in Utah were much like the rest of the nation. Utah made its contribution to the war effort, and its businesses enjoyed temporary prosperity. Union activity increased, particularly in the coal and copper industries. In 1933 the United Mine Workers of America became very important in the Carbon County coal mines.


The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Utah especially hard. For a number of reasons, mining and agriculture were already struggling industries. Conditions got worse during the 1930s. Besides the unemployment brought on by depression, severe droughts hit farmers hard in 1931 and 1934. And high transportation costs limited the expansion of manufacturing.

The New Deal of 1933-1939 helped Utahns. People got work with programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which came to Utah with a variety of projects. Utah and the rest of the nation were slowly recovering when World War II hit.

Tooele army bomb storage

Women clearing weeds near the Tooele Army Depot Bomb storage facility during World War II.


World War II

World War II started for America on December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Because of the war there came an increase demand for food production that helped Utah's economy. Important military installations, the Geneva steel plant, and other war-related industries brought new prosperity to the state.

Utah had several prisoner of war camps. Topaz, a relocation camp for Americans of Japanese ancestry was located 10 miles northwest of Delta. During its operation more than 8,000 American citizens and resident aliens lived at this camp.

Part 10: Last half of the 20th century

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