Utah History to Go
President Harding's 1923 Visit to Utah
From War to war


World War I and Utah
Utah's Capitols
Herbert S. Auerbach, Renaissance Man
Utah's "Ugly Duckling" Salt Flats
Publicizing Bryce Canyon
The Last Indian Uprising
Home Industry 20th Century Style
Some 80 Utah Nurses Served in World War I
World War I Heroine Maud Fitch Lived in Eureka, Utah
Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland
The Development of Zion National Park
The Twenties
Artist John Held, Jr. Created Cultural Icons, 1920's
Media Development in Weber County
Silent Films Intrigued & Occasionally Offended
Coal Production Amid the Wars
Sheep Fueled 1920's Economy
Military Installations
Boxcars and Section Houses
Jack Dempsey Loved Fighting, Mining, and Cowboying
Radio in Utah Began in May 1922 on Station KZN
The Cigarette Ban of the 19020's Caused an Uproar
Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah
Lawyer Ran For President on the Farmer-Labor Ticket
George Sutherland Served on the U.S. Supreme Court
Alice Stratton Feared and Made Fun of "Kaiser Bill"
Klansmen at a Funeral and a Terrible Lynching
President Harding's 1923 Visit to Utah
Growing Crops For the Cannery
Dinosaur National Monument
The Fathers of Capitol Reef National Park
Ogden's the Bigelow-Preserves a Historic Area
Philo T. Farnsworth's Invention
The Beginnings of Commerical Aviation
The White Book Road Guide
The Great Depression
Depression Memories
"Even Grasshoppers Were Starving" During Drought
New Deal Agencies Built 233 Buildings in Utah
"Alphabet" Agencies in Utah County
The Civilian Conservation Corps Was a Boon to Utah
The Civilian Conservation Corps
Marriner S. Eccles Helped Design FDR's New Deal
Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930
Reed Smoot & America's Natural Resources, 1903-33
Children in the 1930's Hoped to Become Nurses & Pilots
Arches National Monument
A Labor Inspector During the Great Depression
Clean Clothes Blowing in the Breeze
Utah's Rosies in the War
Garfield County Airport Has Unusual Hangar
Marie Ogden Led Spiritual Group in San Juan County
Uinta Basin Group Trekked to the 1933 World's Fair
Helen Hofmann Bertagnole-"Utah's Queen of Swing"
World War II in Utah
How Trains Helped Win a War
The War Effort at Home
Topaz Relocation Center
Topaz: Japanese American Interned in UT During WWII
Japanese Agricultural Colony at Keetley
Utahn Survives the Attack at Pearl Harbor
The USS Salt Lake City Made History
Utah Naval Officer Died a Hero's Death at Pearl Harbor
Rhymes Filled Children's Autograph Books
Utah's Rosies Upshot
Women Workers and Housing Issues
World War II Claimed the Lives of Four Utah Brothers

W. Paul Reeve
History Blazer July 1995

President Warren G. Harding's 1923 visit to Utah was part of a broader tour of the western United States designed to bring him "closer to the people and their conditions." After touring Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and other states, he proceeded to Alaska, his primary destination, and became the first president to visit that territory since its purchase in 1867. Tragedy unexpectedly struck the tour, however, when the president became ill and the trip ended abruptly with Harding's death in San Francisco on August 2, 1923.

Harding's train the "Presidential Alaska Special" arrived in Ogden on the morning of June 26 to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd gathered at Union Station. President and Mrs. Harding and their entourage were then escorted to Lester Park where nearly 2,000 persons waited to greet them. Harding commented that he had not anticipated seeing so many people at such an early hour--8 A.M.--and then briefly addressed the eager Ogdenites before traveling on to Salt Lake City. All along the highway between Ogden and the state's capital city people had gathered to greet the president, including scores of flag-waving children. One tiny Ogden girl, carried by her father, even approached the president's car and handed him a bouquet of roses. Harding eventually arrived at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City where a huge crowd waited in anticipation. The president was clearly overwhelmed with the Utah welcome and told the cheering throng: "Words are unable to express my appreciation of the warm friendly spirit of this reception." Some of their enthusiasm may have sprung from the fact that Utahns had helped to elect Harding in November 1920, giving him some 82,000 votes to 57,000 for losing Democrat James M. Cox. Then, too, as a U.S. senator, Harding had endorsed causes popular with many Utahns, including woman suffrage, the Volstead Act's provisions for enforcing prohibition--passed over Wilson's veto, and anti-strike legislation.

After speaking at Liberty Park the president and his party moved on to the Hotel Utah where children bearing armloads of flowers lined both sides of the hotel entrance. Later that afternoon Harding and Mormon Church president Heber J. Grant were partnered for a round of golf and handily defeated their opponents. The president toured Fort Douglas where he received a 21-gun salute, and he was treated to a private organ recital at the Mormon Tabernacle. The musical offerings were wide ranging and included the Mormon hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints," a selection from Tristan and Isolde, and a personal favorite of Mrs. Harding's, "A Perfect Day." That evening the president returned to the Tabernacle where he delivered a political speech on the subject of "Taxation and Expenditure" to an overflow crowd.

The presidential party continued its dizzyingly paced tour as it boarded the "Alaska Special" and set out for southern Utah where the group planned to visit Zion National Park the next day. The morning of June 27 enthusiastic Utahns again greeted President Harding, this time at Cedar City. From there the delegation continued south in thirty-two highly polished cars furnished by Cedar City residents. All along the route the official entourage passed scores of friendly southern Utahns attracted by the chance to see the country's president in person.

In Toquerville townsfolk had spent much of the previous night carrying buckets of water to sprinkle the three-quarters of a mile of road that dissected their town in order to prevent any dust from stirring when the president's car passed over it. Fortunately, the road remained dust free and, as planned, the presidential caravan stopped in Toquerville for a rest, giving Harding a chance to address the pioneers of that area. As he spoke, local residents showed their appreciation for the honor of having the president of the United States in their town by loading each official car in the entourage with a brimming basket of prize Dixie fruit.

After winding through several other small towns the group finally arrived in Zion Canyon where they found a number of the region's best horses waiting. President Harding donned leather chaps, tied a kerchief around his neck, and, joined by Heber J. Grant, Governor Charles R. Mabey, Senator Reed Smoot, and other dignitaries, proceeded on horseback up the scenic canyon.

After enjoying the beauty of southern Utah the party returned to Cedar City where Mrs. Harding told the people how thoroughly she had enjoyed the day: "I am glad I came...I would not have missed this trip for anything." The presidential party then boarded its train and headed for its next scenic destination, Yellowstone National Park.

Unfortunately, before President Harding's western tour ended he was stricken ill and died of a probable heart attack. News of his death came as a shock and Utah joined the rest of the nation in mourning the loss of its leader. On August 10, 1923, while Harding was laid to rest in Marion, Ohio, many Utah stores, businesses, and factories closed in deference to the nation's fallen leader. In Salt Lake City several memorial ceremonies were held, including those at Fort Douglas, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and St. Mark's Cathedral. Crowds also thronged the Mormon Tabernacle for services to honor the memory of the president who had spoken to a much less solemn congregation in that same edifice only six weeks earlier.

Sources: Deseret News, June 25, 26, 27, 28, 1923, August 10,1923; Salt Lake Tribune, June 27, 1923; Millennial Star, August 2, 1923.


The Land
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