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Presidential visits to Utah since 1872

(Utah State Historical Society)



Estimated read time: 7-8 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — President Barack Obama’s visit to Utah Thursday marked the first time he had visited the Beehive State during his presidency. Here’s a look back at the other U.S. presidents who visited Utah while serving as president.

In total, 22 presidents have visited Utah during their presidency.

Ulysses S. Grant — 18th president

Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to visit Utah while in office, according to “When the White House Comes to Zion,” a historical report compiled by Ronald L. Fox. On Oct. 3, 1875, Grant stayed at the Walker House Hotel in Salt Lake City and met LDS Church president Brigham Young on the train from Ogden, the report said.

Grant visited Utah a second time in 1879 during a short train stop in Ogden on his way to the East Coast from a visit to the West Coast, according to the report.

Rutherford B. Hayes — 19th president

Rutherford B. Hayes visited Utah on Sept. 5, 1880 and met LDS Church president John Taylor while traveling from Ogden to Salt Lake City, the report said. Hayes was accompanied by Gen. William T. Sherman during his visit.

Benjamin Harrison — 23rd president

Benjamin Harrison visited Utah twice during his term in office, the report said. Harrison visited on July 27, 1881 and on May 9, 1891, only spending a total of five hours in Salt Lake City.

William McKinley — 25th president

During William McKinley’s visit to Utah he only spent 20 minutes in Ogden, according to the report. He visited at midnight on May 26, 1901 and had planned a day trip, but his wife was ill, and the rest of the trip was cancelled.

Theodore Roosevelt — 26th president

Theodore Roosevelt first visited Utah in 1900 as a vice presidential candidate, according to the report. He again visited Utah in May 1903 after he had become president and then in 1912 after his term had ended.

William Howard Taft — 27th president

Pres. Taft stopped in Utah three times while serving as president — in 1909, 1911 and 1915. In September 1909, he stayed at Knutsford Hotel and later stayed at Hotel Utah, becoming one of the first guests there.

Warren G. Harding traveling through Utah. Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society
Warren G. Harding traveling through Utah. Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society

When Taft visited in 1911, he spoke at the State Fair and the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the report said.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson — 28th president

Pres. Wilson visited Utah on Sept. 23, 1919 to “push the League of Nations,” the report said. Two days later, he had a stroke that ended his active presidency.

Warren G. Harding — 29th president

Pres. Harding visited Salt Lake City and Zion National Park while traveling to Alaska in June 1923. He was in San Francisco, California, when he died and his body was transported through Ogden enroute to Washington D.C. A service was held for him in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Herbert Hoover — 31st president

Pres. Hoover only visited Utah once during his presidency, but he visited the Beehive State the most of any of the men who became president, the report said. He spoke at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Nov. 7, 1932 while on his way to California. He visited Utah four times before he became president and 18 times after his presidential service, according to the report.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt — 32nd president

Pres. Roosevelt visited Utah twice as president. He first came in September 1935 and gave a 25 minute speech from the rear of the train at Union Station in Ogden, the report said. In 1936, he came to Utah to attend former Utah Gov. George Dern’s funeral.

Harry S. Truman speaking in Utah. Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society
Harry S. Truman speaking in Utah. Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society

Harry S. Truman — 33rd president

Pres. Truman visited Utah three times as president — once in 1945, once in 1948 and again in 1952. During his first visit, he stayed in Utah overnight after signing the UN Charter, the report said. During his second visit, Truman gave a campaign speech in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. In 1952, Truman stopped in Wendover, Salt Lake City, Provo and Helper during his campaign.

Dwight D. Eisenhower — 34th president

Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Utah three times before he became president and then once during his presidency. He visited in 1954 during a quick stop at the Four Corners area.

John F. Kennedy — 35th president

John F. Kennedy visited Utah four times while campaigning as a presidential candidate. He again visited Utah as president in September 1963, just two months before his assassination. During his presidential visit, he “made a major international address in the Tabernacle,” the report said.

During the address, Kennedy mentioned the history and resilience of the early Mormon pioneers.

Lyndon B. Johnson — 36th president

Lyndon B. Johnson visited Utah five times while campaigning as a presidential candidate and developed a friendship with LDS Church president David O. McKay, the report said.

Men, right to left: Senator Watkins, Ezra Taft Benson, and Dwight Eisenhower. Dwight Eisenhower (Republican) served as President of the United States from 1953-61. Ezra Taft Benson served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower and later served as president of the LDS Church.
Men, right to left: Senator Watkins, Ezra Taft Benson, and Dwight Eisenhower. Dwight Eisenhower (Republican) served as President of the United States from 1953-61. Ezra Taft Benson served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower and later served as president of the LDS Church.

He visited twice in 1964, once during a quick stop in Salt Lake City to visit with Pres. McKay, and once to speak at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and again meet with Pres. McKay. He also visited the University of Utah.

Richard Nixon — 37th president

Pres. Nixon visited Utah eight times before he became president. During his visits, ranging from 1933-1966, he campaigned, attended fundraisers, met with LDS Church leaders, spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and attended a national newspaper editor’s meeting, the report said.

He visited Utah twice during his presidency. In July 1970, he spoke in front of the LDS Church Administration Building and he attended the Days of ‘47 Rodeo. In October 1970, he spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and during his speech, the seal fell off the podium, the report said.

Gerald Ford — 38th president

Pres. Ford visited Utah five times before he became president and nine times after his presidency, but only once during his term as president, the report said. During his visits he spoke at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, and he also attended Utah State University for a graduation.

Ford visited Salt Lake City on Nov. 2, 1974 as president and visited with LDS Church leaders, spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and visited a school for people with disabilities, according to the report.

James Carter — 39th president

Pres. Carter visited Utah on Nov. 27, 1978 and spoke at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on the topic of family, the report said. He visited Utah three more times after his term as president, touring Temple Square, speaking at Sundance and doing book signings.

Ronald Reagan — 40th president

Pres. Reagan visited Utah six times before he became president and then three times during his presidency. During his first visit as president on Sept. 9, 1982, he spoke in Hooper and visited the LDS Church cannery facility, the report said. He visited a second time to speak at the Salt Palace on Oct. 29, 1982, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed.

Reagan’s last visit as president was on Sept. 3, 1984 when he spoke at the American Legion Convention at the Salt Palace, according to the report.

George H. W. Bush — 41st president

George H. W. Bush visited Utah three times during his presidency. Bush’s first visit was in September 1991 where he attended a rally at the Salt Lake City International Airport before visiting Primary Children’s Hospital and meeting with LDS Church leaders.

In July 1992, Bush spoke at BYU and visited the Red Butte Gardens. Then in September 1992, he returned to attend a National Guard Meeting.

Bill Clinton — 42nd president

Bill Clinton visited Utah twice before becoming president and twice after his term in office. While he was president he visited Park City twice while on holiday, the report said. During both visits, he took his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, skiing for her birthday.

George W. Bush — 43rd president

George W. Bush had the most visits to Utah during his presidency than any other U.S. president, the report said. He visited Utah four times during his term in office. In 2002, he spoke at the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. On Aug. 22, 2005, he spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention and met with LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City.

In 2006, he visited Utah during the American Legion Convention, and in 2008, he attended a fundraiser in Salt Lake City and Park City. During his last visit, he also met with LDS Church leaders again and gave them a tour of Air Force One, the report said.

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Faith Heaton Jolley

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