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Book review: 'When the White House Comes to Zion' chronicles presidential visits to Utah

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 29 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

"When the White House Comes to Zion" is a new book published by Covenant Communications.

Covenant Communications

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"WHEN THE WHITE HOUSE COMES TO ZION," by Mike Winder and Ronald L. Fox, Covenant Communication, $29.99, 229 pages (nf)

In October 1875, Ulysses S. Grant became the first sitting president of the United States to visit the Utah Territory. Since that encounter, the state has been visited by every president down to the current holder of that office. While some have come with agendas of one form or another, all have been accorded the respect their office deserves.

Mike Winder and Ronald L. Fox have compiled a fascinating book full of photos, memorabilia and experiences recorded during those significant visits by the commander in chief. Published in a “coffee table” format, the volume traces visits from the presidents as they traveled to Utah via Pullman, regular trains and later, airliners.

Included in the 229-page book are pictures of each president, stories of their visits and interesting experiences of those who were present.

For instance, when Teddy Roosevelt came in May 1903, he brought his famous “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” to participate in the presidential parade. As the division came through, they were showing off for the president but were coming very close to a group of schoolchildren watching the parade.

Recognizing the danger, Roosevelt “raised his right hand and cried, ‘Boys, don’t gallop your horses; the little folks might get hurt.’ ” The men ceased their antics and calm was restored.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson was on his way back to Washington, D.C., from Sacramento, Calif., when he ordered the pilot of Air Force One to make an unscheduled landing in Salt Lake City. When asked the purpose of the stop, he replied, “I could not fly over Utah without stopping to see President (David O.) McKay."

These and other stories will delight readers and open the door for conversations among family and friends about the history of the state of Utah.

Winder and Fox have done a fine job taking the presidential experiences of the people of Utah and organizing them into an enlightening and entertaining book that should please the whole family. This book should be a welcome addition in the home of anyone who is interested in the presidential history of Utah.

Ronald Reagan visits Utah

When President Ronald Reagan visited Utah, there was an elephant in the room literally.

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