Must-See Historical Sites in Utah That Are Not LDS Related
Utah has a rich history and much of it is related to the Mormon Pioneers, but there are other historical sites around the state that hold a much different significance.
People often talk about the temples, pioneer settlement sites, or national and state parks that show off the state’s natural beauty. However, there are some rather unique historical sites outside of those descriptions that bring in tourists from all over.
These sites range from tragic to nerdy.
5 Non-LDS Historical Sites in Utah:
Alkali Ridge-San Juan County
Alkali Ridge (also known as Alkaline Point) was a Pueblo settlement discovered by archeologist John O. Brew, Intermountain Histories said. The Pueblo or Anasazi peoples lived near what is now Blanding, UT from 1000 B.C. to 1300 AD.
There is a ton of history here with several rows of units and other structures. There are 185 units to be exact along with pieces of pottery and other ceramics around. One thing that’s mysterious about Alkali Ridge is that the inhabitants decided to just up and leave. There is some speculation about drought and other usual factors to explain the sudden move.
In 1964, Alkali Ridge was made a National Historical Landmark and is now under the Bureau of Land Management Jurisdiction.
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs-Iron County
The location for this one is pretty obvious...it’s in Parowan. So, if you’re a Southern Utah native this place is a great day trip idea and it’s educational!
The petroglyphs are also a remnant of the local Native American tribes. According to Utah.com, it’s possible that several different tribes were around the area. The petroglyphs scrawled on Parowan Gap have not yet been “deciphered,” but archeologists are debating the meaning.
“Archaeologists debate that they represent concepts, ideas or actual happenings. Perhaps they were part of a religious activity or hunting ritual. The local Native Americans consider them to be an important part of their cultural history relating stories of their ancestor's lifeways.”
Topaz War Relocation Center-Millard County
This historical site is on the darker side of Utah’s history. During World War II, the Central Utah Relocation Center was an internment camp for Japanese Americans and those of Japanese descent, the U.S. National Parks Service said.
It’s located just outside of Delta, UT, and over 11,000 people made their way through the camp during the war. During its “peak,” there were 8,000 internees.
Once the war was over and the camp shut down, several of the structures were carted off to educational facilities or torn down. However, in 1976, the Japanese-American Citizens League had a stone monument placed at the site. This began the process of preserving the Topaz War Relocation Center’s remaining structures.
You can visit the Topaz Museum in Delta which has a lot of artifacts and provides tours of the historical site.
Jurassic National Monument-Emery County
The Jurassic National Monument is home to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in Price, UT. Even if you don’t love the Jurassic Park movies, this is an insanely cool site for the family to see. The Quarry has the “densest concentration of Jurassic-aged dinosaur bones ever found”, the Bureau of Land Management website said.
There are bones belonging to at least 74 different types of dinosaurs (12,000 bones). Interestingly, most of the bones belong to carnivores.
This place is well out of the way from any town and on unpaved roads but there are picnic tables available for a homemade lunch at the site. There are rock art sites, dinosaur excavation areas, and more to see at Jurassic National Monument.
Golden Spike-Box Elder County
For any “railfan” this is a must-see historical site. The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the most influential inventions in human history. The completion of this life-changing transportation happened right here in Utah just a little over 30 miles outside of Brigham City.
The railroad was finished in May 1869 with a grand ceremony of golden spikes provided by Nevada, California (San Francisco), and Arizona, The National Parks Service said.
There was a special hammer and laurel tie that were also presented at the ceremony. These “special spikes” were for ceremony purposes only and once presented, were quickly replaced with ordinary, practical spikes that were plunged into the ground.
You can do driving tours on the railroad, a 1.5-mile hike, ranger programs for kids, or check out the visitor's center during the open season.
Utah has so, so much to offer and you don’t have to be LDS to enjoy it!