Journey Stories

An exhibit from the Smithsonian


Major funding provided by:

Eccles Foundation

Eccles Foundation

Zions Bank

Utah Office of Tourism


Media support provided by:

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Help collect and share Utah’s undertold stories!




Explore some of Utah’s amazing journey stories! Visit where you can search and browse through 86 years of the Utah Historical Quarterly, as well as dozens of other publications. Here are some fascinating places to start:

“A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert,” History Blazer.  The 100-mile ride of Bill Rishel and Charlie Emise from Terrace, Utah (north of the Great Salt Lake) to Grantsville (south of the lake) in 22 hours in the summer of 1896. 

“The Book of the Pioneers,” by Linda Thatcher, Beehive History 22. Short interesting descriptions of their journeys written by pioneers who came to Utah during 1847. 

“The Comings and Goings of 1847,” by Lyndia McDowell Carter, Beehive History 22. Journeys the Mormon pioneers made both within the Great Basin and to and from Nebraska during 1847.

“Early Roadside Motels and Motor Courts of St. George,” by Lisa Michele Church, and “St. George: Early Years of Tourism,” by Lisa Michele Church and Lynne Clark, Utah Historical Quarterly 80:1 (Winter 2012). Article and photo essay about tourist journeys to Utah’s Dixie.  

“The Elsinore House: A Drummer’s Home Away from Home,” by Wilhelmina Gunn, Utah Historical Quarterly 34:1 (January 1966). The experiences of a daughter who helped her parents run a hotel for traveling salesmen.

“Families,” Beehive History 25.  Stories of diverse groups who traveled to Utah: a Jewish back-to-the land colony, Russian Molokans looking for an isolated place to practice their customs, Tongans celebrating a wedding, an Italian widow after the 1924 Castle Dale explosion, Latino families, and Japanese Americans interned at Topaz.

“Father Escalante and the Utah Indians,” Utah Historical Quarterly 2:1 (January 1929). Excerpts from the diary of Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante as the Spanish exploring party traveled through Utah in 1776. 

“Fiddle & Darbukee,” by Kristen Rogers, Beehive History 24. A journey from Lebanon to Utah and from Salt Lake City to the Uinta Basin, and the music the travelers carried with them. 

“The German-Speaking Immigrants of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 52:4 (Fall 1984). A special UHQ issue with essays and wonderful firsthand accounts.

“A Great Adventure on Great Salt Lake: A True Story,” by Kate Y. Noble, Utah Historical Quarterly 33:3 (July 1965). Stories of men who explored the Great Salt Lake and visited Fremont Island, as well as the fascinating story of a family who journeyed to the island in 1862 and lived there for five years.

“The Gypsies Are Coming! The Gypsies Are Coming!” by David A. Hales, Utah Historical Quarterly 53:4 (Fall 1985).  Spicy memories of the travelling gypsies who showed up in small Utah towns around the turn of the 19th century.

“Harry Aleson and the Place No One Knew,” by Gary Topping. Utah Historical Quarterly 52:2 (April 1984). An early Colorado River runner and guide who took guests on unforgettable journeys and explored the river and its side canyons – including a 60-mile journey down the river in a life-preserver.  He tells that story in his own words in “Adventure on the Colorado,” by Harry L. Aleson, in Beehive History 7.  

A History of Utah’s American Indians by Forrest Cuch, ed. (Utah Division of Indian Affairs, 1996). Journey stories of each of Utah’s six main tribes, most of them written by tribal members., a site geared toward young people, has information on native peoples, explorers, and many kinds of immigrants to Utah.

“Life ‘On the Road’: Reminiscences of a Drummer,” by Dorothy J. Buchanan, Utah Historical Quarterly 34:1 (January 1966). The carefree life of a young man who traveled around Utah as a grocery and dry-goods salesman. He describes roads and travel, friendships, towns, hotels and livery stables – and, especially, food!

“Nancy Kelsey, the First White Woman to Cross Utah,” History Blazer.  A journey into the unknown, from Missouri to California, in 1841, passing through Cache Valley and along the northern end of the Great Salt Lake. 

The Peoples of Utah  by Helen Z. Papanikolas, ed. (Utah State Historical Society, 1976). A classic book with chapters on British, Black, Scandinavian, Jewish, Continental European, Chinese, Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Yugoslav, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Spanish-speaking immigrants.

“Through Utah and the Western Parks: Thomas Wolfe’s Farewell to America,” by Richard H. Cracroft, Utah Historical Quarterly 37:3, July 1969. Utah through the eyes of the famous novelist as he made a two-week journey around the West – only three months before his unexpected, early death.

“Toil and Rage in the New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah,” by Helen Papanikolas, Utah Historical Quarterly 38:2 (April 1970). A beautifully written account of the lives of Greeks forced to leave their homeland and start anew, in order to survive.

“A Young Man Goes West: The 1879 Letters of Leonard Herbert Swett,” by Dove Menkes, Utah Historical Quarterly 75:3 (Summer 2007). Delightful letters home by a 21-year-old Chicagoan on the USGS survey describing his journey between Salt Lake City and Kanab, with details about travel of the day, landscapes and communities, and the people he met.

The Utah Division of State History collects and preserves historical documents and makes them available in the Utah History Research Center and online. State History is interested in the journey stories of all peoples who have lived in or passed through Utah, and accepts donations of manuscripts, books, journals, maps, or photos that will enhance the State’s collections.  Learn more at