Salt Lake County, Utah

From Academic Kids

Template:UTcounty Salt Lake County is a county located in the state of Utah. As of 2004, the population was estimated at 935,295, up from a 2000 Census figure of 898,387. It was named for the Great Salt Lake nearby. Its county seat and largest city is Salt Lake City6. It occupies a valley, Salt Lake Valley, as well as parts of the surrounding mountains, the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and the Wasatch Range to the east. In addition, the Great Salt Lake is partially within the northwestern section of the county.



Salt Lake County was settled in 1847 when Mormon pioneers, fleeing persecution in the East, discovered Salt Lake Valley after traveling through Emigration Canyon. Brigham Young, the leader of the travellers, declared "This is the right place" after seeing the valley, which was at the time arid, dry, and unpromising. However, they soon developed a very self-sufficient community, Great Salt Lake City. Settlements were scattered across the valley and beyond, and the territorial capital was moved to Great Salt Lake City in 1857, and the name was subsequently shortened to Salt Lake City. In 1858, when the Utah Territory was declared in rebellion after governor Brigham Young refused to step down for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints polymagous practices, the government sent troops to install a new governor and keep a watch over the place. However, the valley was abandoned and the troops set up Camp Floyd down in Utah County. In 1863, Fort Douglas was established on the eastern bench, near the current site of the University of Utah.

In 1870, the first railroad reached the county, and population boomed. During the 1870s and 1880s, when the territory was in tense relations with the US government over its practice of polygamy, settlements outside of Salt Lake City, as well as Salt Lake itself, began to grow rapidly, especially in what are now Millcreek and East Millcreek. Mines were established in the mountains, most notably around Alta. Many of the mines were closed during the 1890s and 1900s, and the economy and growth stagnated. However, one mine, the Kennecott Copper Mine, was extremely important to the economy, and to this day is still in full-swing operations and is the largest open-pit mine in the world. During the early 20th century, industry began to come to the valley as well, diversifying its economy, and a trolley system was in place in what are now Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake. The trolley system was mostly dismantled by the 1940s.

The Great Depression hit Utah especially hard, but the Wasatch Front became a key area for defense industries throughout World War II and the Cold War. The airport was upgraded to international status in the 1960s and became Salt Lake City International Airport. Salt Lake City faced inner-city decay beginning especially in the 1960s, while the suburbs grew tremendously. Growth in such cities as Sandy, Murray, and Midvale was phenomenal in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Beginning in the 1980s, and especially the 1990s, growth shifted to the west and south sides of the valley. Riverton, Draper, West Jordan, South Jordan, and West Valley City all saw phenomenal growth during these decades, and rapid growth continues to this day, more recently shifting even further south and west into Draper, Riverton, Bluffdale and, in the past five years, Herriman, which incorporated in 1999. Meanwhile, previously-settled areas such as Taylorsville, Holladay, and Cottonwood Heights have incorporated as there is a new drive for more organized and centralized city development throughout the suburbs. Salt Lake City saw a revilitilization during the 1990s as well, growing in population for the first time in 40 years, and South Salt Lake and Midvale have brought heavily-settled unincorporated areas into their city limits to expand their influence and population. Urbanization has become one of the focal points of current issues, along with the influence of the LDS church, transportation, and education.


The region's economy used to revolve around LDS services and mining. While both are still important to the economy, they have declined in significance greatly since the 19th century. Since World War II, defense industries in the region have also played a very important role in the economy due to its strategic central location in the Western United States, as well as the largely uninhabited and desolate Great Salt Lake Desert to the west.

Beginning in 1939, with the opening of Alta Ski Area, skiing and other winter sports (as well as summer sports), have become a major force in the economy. In 1995, Salt Lake City won the bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. The 2002 Olympics boosted tourism and the economy, and helped to dramatically improve transportation throughout the county. Transportation has been a major focus, as the county continues to rapidly grow in population. It was drastically improved beginning in the late 80s and through the 90s, and continues to this day. Beginning in the 1960s, a more service-oriented economy began to develop, and information technologies began to arrive in the 80s and 90s. Although this business has waned in recent years, information and computer companies, such as, are still a thriving business here.

Law and government

Salt Lake County is unique in that it has a partisan county mayor. The current county mayor is Peter Corroon, a Democrat. Former county mayors include Nancy Workman and Alan Dayton.

County council

Besides a mayor, Salt Lake County also has a county council. Members include three elected at-large and six elected by district. Council members from districts serve four-year staggered terms in partisan elections while at-large members serve six years.

At-large council members

  • Randy Horiuchi
  • Jenny Wilson
  • Jim Bradley

District council members

  • Joe Hatch — 1st district
  • Michael Jensen — 2nd district (council chairman)
  • David Wilde — 3rd district
  • Mark Crockett — 4th district
  • Cortlund G. Ashton — 5th district
  • Marvin Hendrickson — 6th district


School districts in Salt Lake County include:

High Schools in Salt Lake County
Alta High SchoolJordanSandy
Bingham High SchoolJordanSouth Jordan
Brighton High SchoolJordanCottonwood Heights
Copper Hills High SchoolJordanWest Jordan
Cottonwood High SchoolGraniteCottonwood West
Cyprus High SchoolGraniteMagna
East High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
Granger High SchoolGraniteWest Valley City
Granite High SchoolGraniteSouth Salt Lake
Highland High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
Hillcrest High SchoolJordanMidvale
Hunter High SchoolGraniteWest Valley City
Jordan High SchoolJordanSandy
Kearns High SchoolGraniteKearns
Murray High SchoolMurrayMurray
Olympus High SchoolGraniteHolladay
Riverton High SchoolJordanRiverton
Skyline High SchoolGraniteEast Millcreek
Taylorsville High SchoolGraniteTaylorsville
West High SchoolSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City
West Jordan High SchoolJordanWest Jordan


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,092 km² (808 mi²). 1,910 km² (737 mi²) of it is land and 182 km² (70 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 8.72% water.

Perhaps the most dominating physical feature in Salt Lake County are the Wasatch Mountains in the eastern portion of the county, famous for both summer and winter activities. The snow in the region is often coined the "Best Snow on Earth" for its soft, powdery texture, and led to Salt Lake City winning the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. In Salt Lake County there are four ski resorts; Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, and Brighton. Hiking and camping are especially popular summer activities. Marking the western portion of the county are the Oquirrh Mountains. These two mountain ranges together delimit Salt Lake Valley, which is also flanked on the northwest by the Great Salt Lake.

All of the entrances to the valley are narrow. These include Parley's Canyon leading into Summit County to the northeast, Emigration Canyon leading into Morgan County, also to the northeast, the space between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake leading into Davis County to the north, the "Point of the Mountain" leading to Utah County to the south, and a space between the Oqiurrh Mountains and the Great Salt Lake leading to Tooele County to the northwest. On the north and east benches, the houses sometimes climb as far as halfway up the mountain, and new communities are also being constructed on the steeper southern and western slopes.

Salt Lake County borders Davis County to the north, Morgan County to the northeast, Summit County to the east, Tooele County to the west, Wasatch County to the southeast, and Utah County to the south.


The Salt Lake Valley receives, on average, approximately 15 in (38 cm) of precipitation annually, usually with more on the east side and less on the west side, as most storms come from the Pacific Ocean. This leaves much of the west side in the rain shadow of the Oquirrh Mountains. Up to 20 in (50 cm) is received on the benches. Most of this precipitation is received in spring. The summer is dry, with the majority of precipitation arriving from the monsoon that rises from the south. Short, quick, intense, and dry thunderstorms are usually associated with the monsoon. Flash floods and wildfires may be experienced during these thunderstorms as well. Often in early and mid-spring and late fall, when precipitation is heaviest, heavy rainstorms are accompanied by wet overnight snowstorms.

The valley receives 55 in (140 cm) or more of snow in a year, with up to 100 in (240 cm) received on the benches. Most of the snow falls from late November through March, although late October and April snowfall occurs in almost every year, and late September and early May snowfall have been reported. The mountains receive up to 500 in (1,270 cm) of light, dry, fluffy snow and up to 55 in (140 cm) of precipitation annually. The dry snow is often considered good for skiing, contributing to the four ski resorts in the county. Snow usually falls from early October through May, and occasionally in September and early June as well. The mountains are snowcapped year-round except from July through mid-September. This heavy, dry snowfall can be contributed to the lake-effect, where precipitation is intensified by the warm, unfrozen waters of the Great Salt Lake.

During winter, temperature inversions are a common problem. The valley will experience fog, haze, smog, and cool temperatures while the surrounding mountains enjoy warmer temperatures and sunshine. This causes melting snow in the mountains and unhealthy air quality and low visibility in the valley. This weather event may last two weeks or more in extreme cases, and is caused by a very strong high pressure positioned over the Great Basin.


U.S. 89 runs most of the length of the county, splitting off from I-15 near the border with Davis County to the north, and running southward to the 10600 South I-15 exit in Sandy, mostly as State Street. I-15 comes in from Davis County in the north and continues nearly straight south before entering Utah County at the "Point of the Mountain." I-80 enters from Tooele County to the west and, after passing Salt Lake City International Airport, briefly merges with I-15 before splitting east again and entering Summit County through Parley's Canyon. Emerging from the southern I-80/I-15 split is Utah State Route 201, also known locally as the 21st South Freeway. It runs west from the interchange, marking the border between West Valley City and Salt Lake City before being downgraded to an expressway and passing through Magna, eventually terminating at I-80 near Tooele County. This provides an alternative to I-80 when needed. I-215 enters from Davis County paralleling I-15 and intersecting I-80 before curving east in the center of the county, intersecting I-15 in Murray, curving north, and paralleling the Wasatch Range before terminating at I-80 at the entrance to Parley's Canyon. This provides an alternate route to I-15 and I-80. Utah State Route 154, known locally as Bangerter Highway, is an expressway that begins at the airport and runs down the west side of the valley, ending at I-15 in Riverton.

There is also a light rail system, known as TRAX. It is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and runs from the Delta Center in downtown Salt Lake City south to 10000 South in Sandy. There is also a line that runs east to the University of Utah. Several expansions to the suburbs and the airport are planned in the near future. UTA also operates bus routes to nearly every location in the valley and routes to the ski resorts in winter. The Legacy Highway is eventually planned to intersect with I-215 in the north of the county and continue south through the quickly-growing far western communities of the county, although how far in the future this may be is unknown.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 898,387 people, 295,141 households, and 213,977 families residing in the county. The population density is 470/km² (1,218/mi²). There are 310,988 housing units at an average density of 163/km² (422/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 86.34% White, 1.06% Black or African American, 0.88% Native American, 2.56% Asian, 1.23% Pacific Islander, 5.36% from other races, and 2.57% from two or more races. 11.89% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 295,141 households out of which 40.10% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% are married couples living together, 10.40% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% are non-families. 20.80% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.20% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.00 and the average family size is 3.53.

In the county, the population is spread out with 30.50% under the age of 18, 12.90% from 18 to 24, 30.60% from 25 to 44, 18.00% from 45 to 64, and 8.10% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 29 years. For every 100 females there are 101.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 99.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $48,373, and the median income for a family is $54,470. Males have a median income of $36,953 versus $26,105 for females. The per capita income for the county is $20,190. 8.00% of the population and 5.70% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.00% of those under the age of 18 and 5.50% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Cities and towns


  • Stilltoe, Linda (1996). A History of Salt Lake County. Salt Lake City: Utah Historical Society. ISBN 0-913738-04-2

External links

Flag of Utah

State of Utah
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State Capital:

Salt Lake City


Dixie | Great Salt Lake | Great Salt Lake Desert | Uinta Mountains | Wasatch Front | Wasatch Back | Wasatch Range

Major Metros:

Ogden | Provo | Saint George | Salt Lake City


Bountiful | Clearfield | Draper | Layton | Midvale | Murray | Orem | Roy | Sandy | Taylorsville | West Jordan | West Valley City

Smaller Cities:

Brigham City | Cedar City | Logan | Moab | Park City | Price | Richfield | Tooele | Vernal


Beaver | Box Elder | Cache | Carbon | Daggett | Davis | Duchesne | Emery | Garfield | Grand | Iron | Juab | Kane | Millard | Morgan | Piute | Rich | Salt Lake | San Juan | Sanpete | Sevier | Summit | Tooele | Uintah | Utah | Wasatch | Washington | Wayne | Weber


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