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Utah Annual State History Conference

Rural Utah, Western Issues

September 29 - October 1, 2016

Although Utah and the American West are highly urbanized—principally a product of arid geography—some of their defining characteristics are open spaces and sparse populations. Outside of its urban corridors, the West is a region of small towns and scattered homes amid a big landscape. Its history is a mosaic of agriculture, ranching, manufacturing, community life, and culture. Unfortunately, it is also sometimes ignored in the wider histories.

One of the biggest and most recognizable of western landscapes is Utah’s—the expansive range of the Great Basin, the peaks of the Central Rockies, and the canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Approximately 97 percent of Utah’s land area is considered rural. But this is not an unpeopled and unstoried landscape. About one in ten Utahns lives in towns of 2,500 people or less.

Rural Utahns have grappled with economic development, the dynamics of in-migration, rural gentrification, and the retention of rural culture and identity. Land and resource issues—federal ownership of vast tracts of locally used land, scarcity of water, and energy development among them—are also common, as they are in the histories of other western states. This conference seeks to examine the historical dimensions of these issues, highlighting new, revised, or heretofore unknown histories of rural and western life for a twenty-first century public.



Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 8:00 am - 6:00 pm Workshops Rio Grande Depot, 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City

Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Plenary, lunchtime keynote and awards presentation, history and panel sessions Keynote by Dr. Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a Professor of History. Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 West 3100 South, West Valley

Saturday, October 1, 2016 9:00 am - 6:30 pm Tour to Bear River Massacre Site (TOUR IS FULL) Tour sponsored by the Fort Douglas Military Museum ** Please note that a separate paid registration fee of $65.00 is required for this conference tour.  Registration is available at 801-581-1251 or

Thank you to our conference sponsors:

American Institute of Architects (Utah chapter), American Planning Association (Utah chapter), American West Center (U of U), Ames Construction, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies (BYU), Chevron, Fort Douglas Military Museum, Governor's Office of Economic Development, J. Willard Marriott Library (U of U), LDS Church History Department, National Park Service, Resonance Printing Solutions, U of U History Department, USU History Department, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, Utah Humanities, Utah Westerners.

 Nominations for USHS Best Utah History Book and Article Awards