The journey to statehood culminated on January 4, 1896, but the journey of statehood began two days later on January 6th when the first legislative session began. Utah's early state legislators are featured in a physical exhibit at the capitol and a digital exhibit that is viewable online. Credit: Utah Department of Heritage and Arts
Utah Becomes the Union's 45th Star
In early 1896, 63 men set out across the newly recognized state of Utah. They left farms and ranches, wards and communities and made the rugged journey to Salt Lake City. Road weary and hopeful, one-by-one they arrived in the capital, and on January 6th, 1896, they gathered in the Salt Lake City and County Building as the first state legislature.
In celebration of the 125th anniversary of statehood, these first legislators are commemorated in a physical exhibit in the capitol building and a digital exhibit that is viewable online.
The first legislature gathered in the Salt Lake City and County Building to start the legislative session on January 6, 1896.
Credit: Courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.
An Exhibit at the Utah State Capitol
The First State Legislature Joins the Current One
On the second floor of the State Capitol, "Coming Together: Utah Becomes the Union's 45th Star" highlights the people and objects that represent Utah's journey to statehood as well as its first state government. In 1896, the legislature was comprised of men whose ages, backgrounds, and political affiliations varied widely, but many Utahns lacked representation in the new government. The exhibit explores the lives and roles of these men, the individuals who assisted with and challenged their work, and the 21st century Utahns who hold their offices.
Learn about the First Legislature from Home
For those who are unable to visit the capitol in person or are interested in a more in-depth look at the first legislature, a digital exhibit is available online through the Division of State History's Omeka platform. The exhibit contains four collections of artifacts and images that expand upon the information contained in the capitol exhibit.