Utah’s close-knit Mormon farm towns thrived from the late 19th century until the Depression years. The Dust Bowl years were particularly hard in Utah, as most farms were entirely dependent on irrigation and the decade-long drought greatly reduced the flow of already scarce water. Communities quickly rebounded during World War II, especially as federal money poured into military camps like Wendover Air Base in the deserts west of Salt Lake City.
The designation of five national parks (beginning with Zion in 1919), two huge national recreation areas, and the vast Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument has brought an ever-increasing stream of tourists to the state. Today, tourism is the state’s largest industry, dwarfing such stalwarts as mining and lumber. In 2002, the Winter Olympics were held in the Salt Lake City area, and the world spotlight shone on the state as never before.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition