Utah flower and flag hit 100

By Ronald Fox

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 6 2011 11:37 p.m. MST

A 1922 Utah State flag at the Utah State Historical Society. This flag was made in error in that the date 1847 was not put on the shield but dropped below.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of two of Utah's best-known symbols: Our state flag and state flower.

The Word's Fair at St. Louis in 1903 wanted a flag from every state for a parade of states. Unfortunately, Utah didn't have a flag.

So they made one.

After the fair, it took another eight years for the legislature to adopt the flag as the official State flag on March 9, 1911. Just two years after adoption of this flag the Governor, with the help of the Utah National Guard and the Sons and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, designed a new flag for presentation to the new battleship named after the state. Representative Annie Wells Cannon introduced an act in 1913 adopting this new design, with a few modifications, as the official Utah flag.

Jump forward about 100 years. This year Rep. Julie Fisher of Fruit Heights introduced a new resolution to correct the state's flag after it was discovered that a mistake had been made in 1922 that lasted for 89 years. The year "1847," according to the 1913 statute, was supposed to be on the flag's shield, not hiding at the bottom or, worse, partially hidden behind it. But every Utah flag since 1922 kept on recreating that mistake.

John Hartvigson a member of NAVA (North American Vexilogist (flag) Association) stated that Colonial Flag, a local flag manufacturer and dealer, has just completed making a new 20 by 30 foot Utah flag with its correct historic design to be flown this Wednesday, March 9. Rep. Fisher has also introduced a Bill (HB 490) currently in the Senate that will designate March 9 as Utah State Flag Day in the same manner we celebrate U.S. Flag Day on June 14 of each year.

On March 18,, 1911 the legislature acted once again and adopted the Sego Lily (Calochortus Nuttallii) as the State flower. History records that during the hard early years of Utah Territory, when food was scarce, the sego lily roots became a source of food for the pioneers. Additionally the plant is considered sacred in Native American legend. The flower was made the official emblem of the LDS Church Relief Society in 1913 and a symbol of peace during World War I. At one point a census was taken of school children as to their preference for a state flower, the Sego Lily was successful.

Over the years the legislature has deemed other items as symbols of the State. They include:

State animal is the Elk

State bird is the Sea Gull

State astronomical symbol is the Beehive Cluster

State cooking pot is the dutch oven

State emblem is the beehive

State fish is the Bonneville cutthroat trout

State dance is the square dance

State fossil is the allosaurus

State fruit is the cherry

State vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion

State gem is the topaz

State grass is the Indian rice grass

State hymn is "Utah We Love Thee

State insect is the honeybee

State song is "Utah this is the Place"

State mineral is is copper

State rock is is coal

State motto is "Industry

State tree is the blue spruce.

This year Utah's Legislature has passed what could become (if the governor approves it) Utah's next state symbol:

State firearm may become the Browning 1911 automatic pistol.

Utahns have created milestones and symbols to best represent our state's culture and history. Anybody want to guess the state snack?

e-mail: UtahHistoryPhotos@gmail.com

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