Utah's intriguing history dates back to the Messozoic Era (230 to 65 million years ago), when many types of dinosaurs lived in the eastern and southern parts of what is now known as Utah. Their fossilized remnants are still being discovered and unearthed.
Ancient Puebloan cultures also known as the Anasazi and Fremont Indians had an agricultural lifestyle in southern Utah from about 1 A.D. to 1300. The Utes and the Navajo tribes lived across the area before the arrival of explorers, mountain men and pioneer settlers.
In the late 1700s while residents of the eastern United States were declaring independence from England, Catholic Spanish Explorers and Mexican traders drew journals documenting Utah's terrain, and the native people, as well as plants and animals. In the 1820s "mountain men" like Jedediah Smith, William Ashley and Jim Bridger roamed northern Utah, taking advantage of abundant fur trapping opportunities.
During 1847, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) migrated to the Salt Lake Valley seeking religious freedom. Before the first transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory, Utah in May of 1869, more than 60,000 Mormons had come to the territory by covered wagon or handcart. Utah became America's 45th State on January 4, 1896.