It’s Great To Bee In Utah

You know that there are signs that designate U.S. highways, state roads, even county roads. And they each have their distinctive shapes. The U.S. road system has shields that look like this:

States can use any shape they want as long as they’re consistent. Most states, like Ohio, use the shape of the state:

Washington state was pretty cool:

But, what’s with Utah’s signs?

It's a bee hive...

Well, you look around and there’s lots of bee stuff in Utah:

Roadside Historical Markers

Cops got 'em...

Even the state flag

And, tonight, I went to their minor league baseball team’s game where the team is called:

So, what’s the deal? Well, it all has to do with the Mormons. You may have heard that there are a couple of them in Utah. It’s true.

See, the first choice for the land now known as Utah was the State of Deseret (at least by the Mormons). Deseret was a word from the Book of Mormon which, by interpretation, means honey bee. The early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the unique name in order to focus on the communal and beneficial traits common to colonies of bees: industry, thrift, and cooperation. The first newspaper in the area was the Deseret News and Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, announced development of a Deseret Alphabet.

But, the U.S., afraid of the heavy influence of the Mormons, nixed the idea of the State of Deseret and named the state Utah after the Ute Indians. That doesn’t stop the people of Utah from plastering bee hives on everything in the state, though.

I like the bee hive logo. Looks pretty cool and I like bees too. Well, I like honey. Bees have that disagreeable way of stinging me when I try to pet them.

Go, Bees…

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I’m guessing that Brigham Young and his group was both thrilled and terribly disappointed at their arrival at the Great Salt Lake. It must have been an amazing sight to come through miles and miles of this kind of landscape:

Then, here’s a massive expanse of water that looked like the answer to all their prayers. Only to find out that the salt content is higher than that of an ocean and totally undrinkable. Not to mention that it cannot support any kind of fish and the surrounding landscape, as you can see, is not very adaptable to farming. Here are some pictures of the type of earth the locals have to deal with when the heat dries up the rivers and streams and the lake recedes:

Heavy salt deposits in dry streams

It's amazing that even the small shrubs and grasses can grow here

The Great Salt Lake way in the distance surrounded by miles of salty marshland

So, why did they settle here? Because Brigham Young, looking for a refuge from persecution from religious zealots, had said that “If there is a place on this earth that nobody else wants, that’s the place I am hunting for.” In his eye, this land was so forbidding, that he was sure no one else would try to move in on his group.

Luckily for them, Utah Lake, about 20 miles south of the Great Salt Lake, is a freshwater lake and was useable for drinking and irrigation. Through sheer determination and belief in their leader, the Mormons transformed the valley into a vibrant community which today has more than 1.8 million people.

And bees.

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Today’s Travel:  218 miles

Total Travel To Date:  10, 365

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