Utah’s Forgotten Immigrant Communities

Utah is home to people from all over the world. From those who came as refugees to those who came willfully, Utah is a melting pot of cultures that from time to time established themselves in tight-knit communities. The general public has forgotten many of these ethnic enclaves, but their existence helped to build Utah’s rich immigrant history. There are a variety of communities of different sizes, each with their own story that deserves to be told. By learning the history behind the places we live and visit, the often uncelebrated lives of individuals and minority groups can be learned, explored, and shared. This tour explores just some of Utah’s immigrant communities that were built and forgotten as Utah’s history has continued to evolve and unfold.

Clarion’s Jewish Utopian Colony

The group moving west consisted of Russian Jews, all under 30, who had lived in the United States for less than five years. Poor, but not poor in spirit, these immigrants wanted to leave their economic situation behind and build a life that would…

Finnish Headstones and Saunas in Scofield

Although Scofield, Utah is not a booming community anymore, the town still retains remnants of immigrant life. According to the 2010 US Census, Scofield housed only 24 people. However, 120 years ago, Carbon County boasted a booming mining community.…

Isolation Led to Basque Hotels in Ogden

Ogden, Utah was a crossroads community for Basques that brought tradition and social activities to otherwise lonely Basques in Utah and throughout the Intermountain West. Proud of their heritage and slow to assimilate, Basque peoples thrived at…

Layton's Thai Community

Thais in America are often mistaken as Chinese, Japanese, or as another Asian ethnicity. This often makes their presence less visible to American communities. Such is the case with the Thai community of Layton, Utah. Although many Utahns enjoy eating…

Mantua’s Danish Heritage

In the spring of 1863, twelve Danish families were sent by Church Leader Lorenzo Snow to settle the little valley of Mantua. Although more than one “Little Denmark” dotted the state of Utah in the late 1800s and early 1900s, “Little Copenhagen” was…

Japantown, Salt Lake City

In 1969, the Salt Palace Convention Center was built. While the Salt Palace is now a historic building in Salt Lake, its creation destroyed the Japanese community that once stretched across 100 South in Salt Lake City. Now, only a small section of…

Salt Lake’s Forgotten Chinatown

As the transcontinental railroad was being finished in 1869, some Chinese laborers moved south. These railroad workers helped establish the Plum Alley community. Originally just a dirt track, Plum Alley grew to be a narrow road surrounded by a few…

The Russians Who Left Northern Utah

While there have been Russians from different religions who have settled in Utah over the years, a settlement of Molokan Russians in Park Valley is one of the only known Russian enclaves in Utah’s history. “Molokan” is a derivative from the Russian…