Utah (S4.06)

S04E06 Utah Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Utah, the Beehive State. Named for the Ute people, a Native American tribe that has occupied for area for hundreds of years, Utah became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896, after the territory was won in the Mexican-American War in 1848.


With a total land area of 82,144 sq mi (212,761 km), Utah is a shade larger than Uganda, and just smaller than Romania. The state is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast, where the famous ‘four corners’ monument can be found. The state is currently home to around 3.2 million people, 62% of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or LDS, known to most people as Mormons. The LDS church migrated there in 1847, while it was still Mexican territory, to escape persecution, but it soon became part of the United States. Utah has the second highest birth rate of any US state, and it is the only state to have a majority of its population belonging to a single church.

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Salt Lake City, Utah

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland. Our guest in this episode is Prof. Greg Jackson from the podcast History That Doesn’t Suck. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

Some further reading:

  • For more on the early history of Utah’s native settlers, see A History of Utah’s American Indians by Forrest Cuch.
  • The Fremont Culture discussed in this episode is detailed further in this whitepaper from the National Parks Service.
  • ThoughtCo discusses the Puebloans here.
  • The website of Hovenweep National Park, which Joe mentioned in this episode can be found here.
  • National Geographic’s discussion of “The Lost World Of The Old Ones” reveals more on the cliffside granaries used by the Puebloans.
  • For the more visually-minded, this YouTube documentary discusses the tragic fate of the Donner Party.
  • Prof. Greg Jackson’s History That Doesn’t Suck podcast also has an episode on the Donner Party
  • Joe touched on the design of Utah’s city blocks, which is elaborated on in this episode of the design podcast 99% Invisible.
  • The History Channel has a documentary on The Utah War, a clip of which is used in this episode.
  • David Roberts’ article on the same topic, entitled “The Brink of War” on Smithsonian.com is also worth reading.
  • Hubert Howe Bancroft’s History of Utah is also referenced in this episode.
  • The joining of the coasts by telegraph is detailed online by the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.
  • Joe also quotes from Beehive History, Vol. 8, which can be found here.

Music that might interest listeners:

Gibraltar (S1.08)

Audio: S1E08 Gibraltar

In this week’s episode of 80 Days, we are talking about Gibraltar the “key to the Mediterranean”. Famous for the imposing Rock of Gibraltar, this 6.7 square kilometre British Overseas Territory is an historic anomaly at the tip of the Iberian peninsula with a unique status and culture. It forms the northern side of the Pillars of Heracles which mark the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean. The tiny territory is also famous for its Barbary macaques, the only  wild monkey population in Europe. Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Ireland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)


There are some things we talked about you might want to know more about:

  • Archaeological finds at Gorham’s Cave and other sites have given evidence that Neanderthals lived her until about 32,000 years ago – much more recently than had previously been expected. It is thought that this area was a lush Savannah climate at the time and very rich in food and resources. The BBC have a report from when the caves were granted UNESCO World Heritage status earlier this year.
  • The name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic Jabal Tariq (جبل طارق) named for Tariq ibn Ziyad who led the Moorish/Umayyad conquest of what is now Spain in the 710s; he had gathered his invading troops at the Rock of Gibraltar before pressing inland.
  • In 1706, when the English took the Rock during the War of Spanish Succession, nearly all of the inhabitants decamped to the City of Gibraltar in the Fields of San Roque, expecting a temporary stay. The Spanish city of San Roque is still there to this day and still features symbols of Gibraltar in its crest
  • Gibraltar’s status as an British territory was regularised, by Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713)

The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.

Crew of the HMS Wasp who demolished O’Hara’s Tower (O’Hara’s Folly)

  • New Statesman has an article describing the history behind the legends that tie the presence of the famous Barbary macaques to British control of the Rock
View of Gibraltar with barbary ape

Photo of a “Barbary Ape” over Gibraltar by user kanu101 on Flickr

  • We spoke about the unusual airport that spans Gibraltar’s entire border with Spain and crosses the main street; there is a video on YouTube which shows the airport from above and a plane taking off from its short runway