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Division of History: Annual State History Conference "Rural Utah, Western Issues"
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https://heritage.utah.gov/history/2016-conference

9/30/2016
When: September 30, 2016
9-5PM
Where: Utah Cultural Celebration Center
West Valley City
United States
Contact: Jedidiah Rogers

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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.

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