The list of things that make Utah unique among the 50 states is so long it would take a thick book to include them all. Some are widely known, such as that this is the most religiously homogenous state and the only state with a majority of the population belonging to a single faith. Others are less known, such as that Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest open pit mine in the world, producing more than 19 million tons of copper — so far.
Here are a few more unusual facts about the Beehive State.
Pioneering women’s rights
Utah women were granted the right to vote by the territorial legislature in 1870 — five decades before the federal government approved the right for all women nationally. The Utah action was “revoked by Congress in 1887 as part of a national effort to rid the territory of polygamy,” according to historytogo.utah.gov. When Utah became a state in 1895, the right of women to vote was included in the state constitution.
Utah residents had the lowest median age (30.2) of any state during the most recent census, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Utah also had the highest percentage of its population under age 5, at 8.8 percent. For comparison, the state with the highest median age was Maine, at 43.9.
Railroad transportation history
After seven years of construction, in 1869 the nation’s first transcontinental railroad connected in Promontory, Utah. Before completion, it took about six months to travel between California and New York and the cost was exorbitant. Afterward, the trip took a week and cost $150.
“For the first time, U.S. Americans could freely travel from coast to coast,” reports GTG Technology Group. “This radically changed both business and pleasure travel.”
A Jell-O connection
Utah has long been reputed to consume the most Jell-O per capita of any state. A U.S. Senate proclamation officially named Jell-O Utah’s favorite snack food. Whether that is accurate, the flavored gelatin is a key ingredient in many Utah dessert concoctions.
Salt and speed
West of Salt Lake City near the Nevada border is 30,000 acres of hard, white crust called the Bonneville Salt Flats. Globally famous as the place people come to set land speed records, there is no other place on earth quite the same.
“In 1964, a man named Norman Craig Breedlove broke the record for longest continuous tire skid when he lost control of his jet-powered Spirit of America on the flats. The resulting skid marks stretched 6 miles long,” reports mentalfloss.com.
A 2017 study by WalletHub ranked Utah as the most charitable state in the U.S. The Beehive State had the highest volunteer rate, the highest percentage of population who donated time and the highest percentage of donated income.
National parks, monuments, forests and more
Utah is well-known for its five national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. The state also features national monuments, recreation areas, national landmarks and national forests. In fact, Utah is the only state where every county contains some part of a national forest.
No location in the U.S. is more closely linked to dinosaurs than Utah. From Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal to the North American Museum of Ancient Life in Lehi, to the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, Utah is a mecca for dinosaur aficionados. New discoveries are announced every year. One of the most recent is the Moabosaurus, discovered in Dalton Wells Quarry outside Arches National Park.
A Mother's Day meal tradition
For 52 years, Utah families have frequented a buffet restaurant with the unusual name of Chuck-A-Rama. Offering great food (including local favorites like Jell-O) at a fair price, the company now has 12 locations, including the original at 744 E. 400 South in Salt Lake City. Mother’s Day is traditionally one of the restaurant’s busiest days of the year.