Fort Douglas



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Good businesses know how to adjust with changing times. One of the state’s oldest institutions is a strong example of this principle of adaptation. Fort Douglas has recently undergone a facelift, and has been transformed as the setting of the Athletes Village for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games. More than 3,500 athletes and officials will reside in the University of Utah’s state-of-the-art accommodations at the base of scenic Red Butte.

At the outset of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln established Fort Douglas as a strategic outpost to protect the Overland Trail, so that gold could be transported from California to fund the Union War effort. One hundred and forty years later, Fort Douglas is the place where athletes will reside as they “go for the gold.”

Established in 1862, Fort Douglas has endured the ups and downs of economic times. Its founder, Colonel Patrick Edward Connor, encouraged his troops to prospect for riches in the nearby hills. Under Connor’s command, silver was discovered in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons and copper was found in Bingham Canyon. Fort Douglas also published the territory’s first daily newspaper, the Union Vedette.

During the Great Depression, Fort Douglas grew and flourished despite tough economic times, as new buildings and officer’s quarters were erected. As the nation banded together in World War II, the fort served as a central place for military recruitment and induction, sending young men and women off to fight from the islands of the Pacific to the beaches at Normandy.

Like many western outposts, Fort Douglas soon outgrew its function as a modern military base. The University of Utah took possession of the fort’s historic buildings and most of its land. Taking care to preserve the fort’s heritage, the university created the Heritage Commons residential housing area for students that will also serve as the official Athletes’ Village during the Winter Games. And I have the delightful privilege of serving as mayor of the village and welcoming the international competitors.

You can learn more about the history behind the Athletes’ Village tonight by watching The Spirit of Fort Douglas, a one-hour documentary premiering on KUED-Channel 7 at 9 p.m.

This is Fred Ball, I’m speaking on business.

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