By Linda Thatcher

State Symbols

State Seal
The official State Seal was adopted on 3 April 1896. The seal was, according to the most accurate accounts designed by Harry Emmett Edwards. Edwards was born in Ottawa, Canada in about the year 1862, and lived in Chicago for three years before moving to Utah in about 1893. After moving to Utah he worked as a bartender and also for a bank. He reportedly had no formal art training, but was a member of the National Society of Artists. How he came to design the seal is not know. He joined the Argenta Chapter of the Masonic Lodge on 3 November 1897 and he listed his occupation as "artist." He left Utah in about 1898 for the Klondike where he supposedly accumulated a fortune but lost it all in a fire. He died 24 January 1930 in California.

The seal is described in the Utah Code 1953 67-2-9: "The great seal of the state of Utah shall be two and one-half inches in diameter, and of the following device: The center a shield and perched thereon an American eagle with outstretching wings; the top of the shield pierced by six arrows crosswise; under the arrows the motto "Industry"; beneath the motto a beehive the figures '1847' and on each side of the shield an American flag; encircling all, near the outer edge of the seal, beginning at the lower left-hand portion, the words "The Great Seal of the State of Utah," with the figures "1896" at the base.

State Flower
The Sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii) was made the official State Plant of Utah on 18 March 1911 when Senate Bill 225 was signed into law by Governor William Spry. The bill was introduced by William N. Williams after a census was taken of the state's schoolchildren, as to their preference for a state flower. The sego lily grows six to eight inches high on open grass and sage rangelands during the summer months in the Great Basin. This member of the Mariposa family typifies lilies, with its sepals, petals, and stamens in combinations of three, and ivory-colored petals which may be tinted from yellow to pink. A horizontal bar of darker color crosses the base of each petal within the flower cup. The flower is important to Utah not only for its beauty, but because the bulbs were eaten by the early Mormons settlers during their first year in the area, when food was scarce. The bulb, which is walnut-sized, was also eaten by the Indians before the Mormon settlers turned to it for sustenance, and serves today as food for rodents and other animals.

State Flag
The Utah State Flag, as we know it, was made the official flag of Utah when Governor William Spry signed House Joint Resolution 1 in 1913. The original state flag was presented to Governor Heber M. Wells in 1903 by the Utah State Society Daughters of the Revolution. According to the organizations's minutes, Governor Wells asked the group to make a state flag. It was made out of Utah silk and embroidered by Agnes Teudt Fernelius. Each member of the USDR contributed one dollar to help pay for the flag. On 16 October 1903 it was reported at their meeting "that a mistake had been made in drawing the seal of our state on the flag which had been presented to the Governor of Utah in May last. The matter was then discussed at length after which a print of the state seal was examined to see where corrections should be made." It was found that "the flag made by Our Society which had been presented to and accepted by the Governor and his staff was in reality only the Governor's regimental flag. A state flag would in compliance with an act of the State legislature have to be made under direction of or by approval of said legislature." They then took the flag to H.L.A. Culmer, a local artist, who drew in the state seal, which was then embroidered.

This flag was used until 1913. In 1912 a second flag was made by the Sons and Daughters of Utah Pioneers to be presented to the battleship Utah. It was made by an eastern firm, and when it arrived it was found that it had a gold circle around the design. Through the efforts of Annie Wells Cannon the new flag was adopted by the State Legislature. According to Utah Code (63-13-5): "The state flag of Utah shall be a flag of blue field, fringed, with gold borders, with the following device worked in natural colors on the center of the blue field: The center a shield; above the shield and thereon an American eagle with outstretched wings; the top of the shield pierced with six arrows arranged crosswise; upon the shield under the arrows the word 'Industry,' and below the word "Industry" on the center of the shield, a beehive; on each side of the beehive, growing sego lilies; below the beehive and near the bottom of the shield, the word 'Utah,' and below the word 'Utah' and on the bottom of the shield, the figures '1847'; with the appearance of being back on the shield there shall be two American flags on flagstaffs placed crosswise with the flag so draped that they will project beyond each side of the shield, the heads of the flagstaffs appearing in front of the eagle's wings and the bottom of each staff appearing over the face of the draped flag below the shield; below the shield and flags and upon the blue field, the figures '1896'; around the entire design, a narrow circle of gold.

State Tree
The blue spruce (Picea pungens) was chosen by the Utah State Legislature on 20 February 1933 to be the official Utah State tree. Adoption of the blue spruce as Utah's official tree was made in record time after the bill, sponsored by the Utah Federation of Women's Clubs, had been introduced with the urgent request that it be passed before the Colorado legislature could pass a similar bill making the blue spruce that state's official tree. While the blue spruce is not plentiful in Utah, it is found in the Wasatch and Uinta mountains at elevations between 6,000 to 11,000 feet. It can be transplanted successfully and is widely used as an ornamental tree. It's foliage is generally silvery blue in color, and the tree has the ability to withstand temperature extremes and drought.

The blue spruce is not a large tree: it ranges from eight to one hundred feet in height and grows to two feet in diameter. Under optimum conditions, a blue spruce may reach a maximum of 150 feet in height and four feet in diameter. The brittle and knotty wood of the tree is of little commercial value. The chief use of the tree is for ornamental landscaping of homes, schools, and public buildings.

State Song
"Utah We Love Thee" was first selected as the official state song in 1917 when Senate Joint Resolution 4 was signed by Governor Simon Bamberger. "Utah We Love Thee" was written in 1895 by Evan Stephens to be sung at the inauguration exercises when Utah became a State on 6 January 1896 after Utah became a state. Evan Stephens was born 29 June 1854 in Pencader, South Wales and emigrated to Utah with his parents in 1866. A competent musician he was asked to be the chairman of the music committee for the statehood program.

by Evan Stephens

Land of the mountains high, Utah, we love thee!
Land of the sunny sky, Utah, we love thee!

Far in the glorious west, Throned on the mountain's crest,
In robes of statehood dressed, Utah, we love thee!

Columbia's newest star, Utah, we love thee!
Thy lustre shines afar, Utah, we love thee!

Bright in our banner's blue, Among her sisters true,
She proudly comes to view, Utah, we love thee!

Land of the Pioneers, Utah, we love thee!
Grow with the coming years, Utah, we love thee!

With wealth and peace in store, To fame and glory soar,
Godguarded evermore, Utah, we love thee!

State Bird
The California gull (Larus californicus) was made the official State Bird of Utah on 14 February 1955 when House Bill 51 was signed into law by Governor J. Bracken Lee. The bill was introduced by Richard C. Howe. The gull was protected under Utah statute as it is an insectivorous bird (feeds on insects). It also was credited with saving the pioneer crops from complete destruction in the summer of 1848. Masses of crickets descended on the pioneers first crops and the threat of disaster was thwarted by seagulls which swooped in from the Great Salt Lake and ate the crickets. Often found in the interior regions, the California gull breeds on inland lakes from Canada south to Mono Lake, California, Great Salt Lake, Utah, and Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming. It winters along the Pacific Coast and inland in Utah, Oregon and California. The mature California gull grows from twenty to twenty-three inches in length and has greenish yellow feet, a medium gray mantle, and a gray mantle, and a bill with a orange spot near the tip of the lower mandible. The outer primaries are black, tipped with white, the first two with subterminal white spots.

State Motto
"Industry" became the official state motto on 4 March 1959 when Governor George Dewey Clyde signed House Bill Number 35. The word is associated with the symbol of the beehive. The early pioneers had few material resources at their disposal and therefore had to rely on their own "industry" to survive. The word "industry" appears on both the state seal and the state flag.

State Emblem
The beehive (skep) became the official state emblem on 4 March 1959 when Governor George D. Clyde signed House Bill Number 34. The beehive is one of the most enduring Mormon symbols, as it was mentioned in the Book of Mormon: "And they did also carry with them deseret, which by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees" (Ether 2:3) The word "deseret" also has become associated with the beehive symbol. Utahns relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance. The beehive, or skep, was chosen as emblem for the state of Deseret in 1848 and was maintained on the seal of the state of Utah in 1896. Utah is nicknamed the "Beehive State."

State Gem
The topaz became the official state gem for Utah on 4 February 1969 when Governor Calvin L. Rampton signed House Bill 6 into law. The sparkling little crystals were formed in the gray rhyolite cliffs of Topaz Mountain in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County thousands of years ago. Golden or light brown in color, Topaz crystals are found in pockets in the rocks, and usually turn colorless after exposure to sunlight. The Utah topaz have little commercial value, but are sought after by collectors as specimens.

State Animal
The elk (Cervus canadensis) was made the official state animal on 1 February 1971 when Governor Calvin L. Rampton signed Senate Bill 18. The elk is a one hoofed mammal that has antlers, which are shed each year. The females are smaller than the males, and lack antlers. The elk once roamed widely, but are today are primarily mountain dwellers during the summers; they winter in the valleys, eating grass, leaves and twigs. The bull elk averages six feet in height, nine feet in length and may weigh as much as 750 pounds. In summer the elk are a light brown, with darker head and limbs, and a buff colored rump, with short hair and a slight mane. An elk calf is primarily brown with light spots till early fall of its first year.

State Fish
The rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) became the official state fish on 1 February 1971 when Governor Calvin L. Rampton signed Senate Bill 19. An important game fish, the rainbow trout is not native to Utah but is indigenous to those waters which flow into the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to northern Mexico. Rainbow trout usually weigh from one to four pounds, averaging two pounds in Utah. Smaller rainbow trout feed primarily on insects while the larger trout feed on small fish. The rainbow trout is olive to greenish-blue in color on top and silver on the bottom; it has a prominent red or pink streak along each side, along with distinct black or brown spots.

Rainbow trout thrive in lakes and streams below 7,000 feet. In Utah, as in other parts of the United States, the rainbow trout are stocked on a put-and-take basis. That is, the fish which are stocked, rather than the offspring, are the ones caught by the angler. The number of rainbow trout in a stream is determined by the capacity of the hatcheries, funds available, and the fishing pressure to which they are subjected.

State Insect
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) was made the official insect for Utah when Governor Scott M. Matheson signed Senate Bill 216 into law on 16 March 1983. The bill was introduced by Senator Fred W. Finlinson from Salt Lake County because of the lobbying effort of the fifth grade class at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Salt Lake County. The lobbying effort was conducted as a class study project on the insect and how government works.

Utah was first called by its Mormon settlers the "Provisional State of Deseret," a name derived from the Book of Mormon word meaning honey bee. The insect has continued to be honored as a symbol of industry and cooperation as well as for the honey it produces.

State Fossil
The dinosaur Allosaurus was chosen the official State fossil by the 1988 State Legislature. Senator Omar Bunnell introduced the bill on behalf of the Utah Museum of Natural History. The Allosaurus is a species of the late Jurassic period that on the average weighed four tons, measured thirty-five feet long, and stood seventeen feet high on two huge hind legs, with a long tail for balance. The Allosaurus was chosen as the official state fossil because more Allosaurus specimens had been found in Utah's two main quarries than any other dinosaur and because the Allosaurus for years had been known to Utah's schoolchildren and scientists for years as the "unofficial" state fossil.

State Grass
Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) was officially recognized as the State Grass on 13 March 1990. It was proposed by Senator Alarik Myrin of Altamont for the Utah Range Society. Indian ricegrass is a densely tufted, native, perennial bunchgrass, which is widely distributed over the western states. Its plump, milletlike seeds are round, black, tipped with a short awn, and densely covered with conspicuous white hairs. Ricegrass grows from one to two feet in height and has slender leaves.

Indian ricegrass grows mainly in dry sandy soil and is often found on sand dunes. It is drought-resistant and somewhat tolerant of alkaline soil. Overgrazing has eliminated much of the grass, but it is still found in abundance in some ungrazed areas. It is sought after by ranchers for winter fed for their animals. The location of the grass is often erratic, but with a wet season a good crop of seed can be expected. The seed can be harvested with a combine and cleaned in a hammer mill to remove the silky hairs from the seed coats. About 140,000 seeds make a pound.

State Rock
Coal was officially recognized as the State Rock on 13 March 1991. It was proposed by Representative Mike Dmitrich of Price as a result of a school project in Carbon County. Coal is a black or brown rock that can be ignited and burned to produce heat energy. Coal-burning power plants supply about half of the electricity used in the United States. Utah has eighteen recognized coal fields (in as many counties); they contain an estimated 39 billion tons of coal. Nearly all of Utah's coal must be obtained from underground mines. The Book Cliffs, Wasatch Plateau and Kaiparowits coal fields are the three most important in the state. Most Utah coal is of bituminous rank (soft coal) and relatively high in potential heat productions (BTUs).

Disclaimer: Information on this site was converted from a hard cover book published by University of Utah Press in 1994. Any errors should be directed towards the University of Utah Press.