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66th Annual Utah History Conference

Transportation and Movement

September 27–28, 2018

It’s possible to read Utah history as a story of movement and transportation. The centrality of movement to exploration, industry, and travel—major themes in Utah history—is obvious. Less so is the way movement can be seen on a more conceptual level as a way to evaluate change over space and time: the variation and transformation of the landscape, the flow of ideas and people into and out of the state, the mobility of groups and individuals, the development of transportation-related infrastructure, and the transportation and communication networks connecting the state to regional and national systems.

The flow of ideas and people is now more global than ever before, rendering traditional boundaries that confined physical movement less operable.

The Utah Historical State Society, thanks to our generous sponsors, offers the conference free to scholars, writers, educators, students, and the general public. Registration is required.

Register to Attend! 


Thursday, September 27 
8:30 am–5:00 pm
Rio Grande Depot, 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City
State Archives Building, 346 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City

Friday, September 28 
7:45 am – check in and morning refreshment
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Plenary, lunchtime keynote and awards presentation, history and panel sessions
Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 West 3100 South, West Valley

We are pleased to announce David Haward Bain, author of “Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad,” will provide the conference keynote address. Bain is the author of dozens of books and articles.

Empire Express is an epic narrative history covering not only the dramatic struggle to link the oceans with twin bands of iron but three decades in which America doubled in size, fought three wars, and discovered itself. A main selection of the Book of the Month Club and a selection of the History Book Club, Empire Express was a finalist both for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in History and the Francis Parkman Prize, and won the New England Historical Association’s and the National Railroad and Locomotive Historical Society’s annual book prizes; the author was elected a Fellow in the Society of American Historians. The work was featured on Brian Lamb’s C-SPAN show, “Booknotes” and adapted by PBS “The American Experience” into a 2-hour documentary.


Saturday, September 29th
Pony Express in Utah Tour
Transcontinental Railroad Tour


Thursday, September 27

Volunteer Management Training
LaDawn Stoddard and Mary Buehler
9:00 am – 3:30 pm (45 min break for lunch – on your own)
Zephyr Conference Room, Rio Grande Depot
300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, UT

UServeUtah’s Volunteer Management Training was created as a resource for organizations to more effectively and efficiently engage volunteers. Based on international best practice research, this training walks participants through foundational principles like developing position descriptions, recruitment, interviewing, placement, orientation & training, retention, and evaluation. You will learn the necessary skills to assess volunteer needs and match those needs with the strategic goals of your organization and develop relevant, competency-based volunteer opportunities that attract and retain high caliber volunteers.

Utah Geographic Names: how geographic names in Utah are proposed, managed, and officially reviewed
Arie Leeflang
9:00 am – 10:30 am
West Lecture Room, Rio Grande Depot

The names associated with natural geographic features often carry significant history, character, and meaning for the nearby communities or local cultural groups. Since 1890 and 1978 respectively, the U.S Board on Geographic Names and the Utah Committee on Geographic Names have been reviewing proposed geographic names in an effort to standardize naming efforts. This workshop will address how geographic names are proposed and reviewed – including the various national policies the state Committee and national Board follow. Resources on researching geographic names will be also covered. Finally, current trends and topics in geographic names, including the recent Grandstaff Canyon proposal, will be reviewed.

Family History Meets History
Holly George
1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Board Room, Rio Grande Depot
300 S. Rio Grande, Salt Lake City

The world of family history has much to offer—both tools and stories—to the writers of history. At the same time, historical writing and genealogical work are not always the same thing.

This workshop will address
1) How to use the tools of family history research in historical writing
2) How to craft family stories into articles for journals such as Utah Historical Quarterly

Utah History in 3D: The Use of 21st Century Technologies in Archaeology
Shawn Lambert
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
West Lecture Room, Rio Grande Depot
300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City

When people think of archaeology, they mainly think of excavations and artifact recovery. There is another facet of archaeology that involves photogrammetry and 3D printing technologies. In this workshop, you will receive an introduction to photogrammetry and 3D printing and their applications in archaeology and public outreach.

Friday, September 28

7:45 am – 9:00 am:  Check in and morning refreshments
9:00 am – 10:15 am: Opening Plenary
History Session 1:  10:30 am – 11:45 am
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm:  Lunchtime Keynote Speech by David Haward Bain, author of “Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad” and Outstanding Achievement Awards Program, by Dina Blaes, Chair, Board of State History
History Session 2:  1:45 pm – 3:00 pm
History Session 3:  3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

**Detailed session information will be finalized and announced in June

Saturday, September 29th

Pony Express in Utah Tour
Time: 8am to 6pm

Description:  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, the Bureau of Land Management’s Salt Lake field office is offering an auto tour of the Pony Express National Historic Trail on National Trails Day, Saturday, September 29. During the tour, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., BLM staff and Utah historians will guide participants across a landscape largely untouched since the trail’s creation in 1860.

The tour will begin at the Home Depot parking lot located at 222 E. 2400 North, Tooele, and return to the Wasatch Front via I-80. Numerous stops will allow participants to visit Pony Express Station ruins and view traces of the trails.

Limitations: Sign-up is limited to the first 15 cars. Backcountry travel will be on a gravel road; a well-maintained vehicle with good tires and a spare is necessary. Participants should be ready for variable weather and terrain, and include plenty of water, good sturdy shoes, a hat (for sun or shine) and other outdoor clothing! For more details contact BLM outdoor recreation planner Ray Kelsey by phone at 801-977-4300 or email at

Transcontinental Railroad Tour
Time: 800am to 600pm

Description: As we quickly approach the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 2019, the Bureau of Land Management would like to invite the public to join cultural resource staff and historians on a guided tour of some important locations in western Box Elder County. Tour will stop at the important railroad towns of Kelton and Terrace, along with some important engineering feats such as the Dove Creek Fill and Peplin Cut.

Tour will begin at the Love’s Travel Station at Snowville, Utah (just off I-15) at 800am, and will return to this location at the end of the day (around 6pm).

Limitation: Sign-up is limited to the first 10 cars, though space will be available in BLM vehicles to increase the number of potential participations. Backcountry travel will be on the historic transcontinental railroad grade, so there is a risk of flat tires from railroad spikes. Good off-road tires, medium to high-clearance vehicle and a spare is required. You are responsible for your own lunch and water. Participants should be ready for variable weather and terrain, and include plenty of water, good sturdy shoes, a hat (for sun or shine) and other outdoor clothing! For more details contact BLM archaeologist Michael Sheehan by phone at 801-977-4300 or email at

2018 Outstanding Achievement Awards – Nominations are Now Being Accepted

The Utah Division of State History’s annual awards recognize individuals and groups who have made a significant contribution to history, prehistory or historic preservation in the state of Utah. Whether these efforts on behalf of the past are quiet or prominent, they benefit the state’s citizens in tangible and intangible ways. Utah State History therefore invites nominations of persons or organizations who have given extraordinary service or completed outstanding projects in the field of Utah archaeology, preservation or history, or in support of one of Utah’s heritage organizations. This project or activity may include research, preservation, education, fundraising, community programs, volunteerism, journalism or other activities.

Thank you to our generous conference sponsors!


Register to Attend! 

For general conference, award nominations, or session proposals questions, please contact Alycia Rowley at or 801-245-7226