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Utah State Symbols

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Welcome to the Beehive State! Utahns have done a wonderful job of adopting some very distinctive and sometimes quirky symbols, from the beautiful quaking aspen to Jell-O to a distant star. (Continued below)

Utah state flag Utah state seal
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Beehive State, Mormon State, Salt Lake State, Land of the Saints  
Symbols of State
Motto Industry 1959
Song Utah, This is the Place 2003
Emblem beehive 1959
EcoSymbols
Flower Sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii) 1911
Tree quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) 2014
(former) Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) 1933
Grass Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) 1990
Fruit cherry (Prunus) 1997
Vegetable Spanish sweet onion (Allium cepa) 2002
Historic Vegetable sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) 2002
Bird California gull (Larus californicus) 1955
Animal Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) 1971
Lizard Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) 2019
Fish Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii utah) 1997
(former) rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) 1971
Insect honeybee (Apis mellifera) Redundant Symbol 1983
Crustacean brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana) 2023
Mushroom porcini (Boletus edulis) 2023
Mineral copper 1994
Rock coal 1991
Gem topaz 1969
Stone honeycomb calicite 2021
Fossil † Allosaurus 1988
Dinosaur † Utahraptor 2018
Soil Mivida (unofficial) Unofficial
Centennial Star Dubhe 1996
Astronomical Symbol The Beehive Cluster located in the constellation Cancer the Crab 1996
Cultural Symbols
Snack Food Jell-O 2001
Cooking Pot Dutch oven 1997
Winter Sports skiing and snowboarding 2012
Railroad Museum Ogden Union Station 1988
Tartan Centennial Tartan 1996
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1994
Hymn Utah, We Love Thee 2003
Work of Land Art Spiral Jetty 2017
Work of Art Native American rock art 2017
Language English Redundant Symbol 2000
Firearm John M. Browning designed M1911 automatic pistol 2011

As much as I love Gila monsters, designating the reptilian legend the state lizard was an odd choice, not because it’s venomous but because it’s presence in Utah is marginal. Good luck finding one.

There are some amazing stories of frontier survival behind the state flower (the sego lily) and bird (California gull). In fact, there are so many conflicting accounts about the latter, one might suspect a conspiracy.

In 2011, Utah became the second state to adopt an official firearm when it embraced the M1911 automatic pistol, which was designed by John M. Browning. Though it is most famously associated with World War I—arguably the most pointless war ever—the M1911 was specifically designed to kill the Filipinos the U.S. “liberated” from Spanish colonialism.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are two official art symbols, Native American rock art and the more contemporary Spiral Jetty. Wow!

Another winner is Utah’s new state flag, selected from thousands of designs submitted by people around the world. The old flag reminds me of the M1911 pistol, while the new flag recalls the Rocky Mountains, Utah’s fabled canyonlands, and maybe even the gulls that supposedly rescued pioneers from an insect plague.

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If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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