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Ever been to Spain?

Have you ever been to Utah? If so, you can tell people you have visited Spain. Yep, its true.

The king of Spain claimed Utah as part of his country in the year of 1776. He sent missionaries, soldiers and settlers to establish communities in Utah. Two Spanish missionaries by the names of Padre Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Padre Fray Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante trekked through Utah partly in search of a new route to California and partly to inventory the land they traveled. They kept careful records of their journey which provides valuable information about the people, animals, plants, watercourses and geography of Utah in 1776.

Utah sites still have some of the names given by these two men. The Dolores River, the San Juan River, the La Sal mountains and the San Rafael Swell to name a few. The town of Escalante was a name given later for the Domínguez-Escalante party.

The Spanish priests were not able to establish missions and communities in Utah for a variety of reasons. If they had, the names of present day geographical features and sites would have retained the names Dominguez and Escalante gave them, like El Valle de Nuestra Señora de la Merced de los Timpanocuitzes. This was the name given for Utah Valley where the city of Provo and Brigham Young University is now located.

The Dominguez and Escalante record states they were very impressed with the Native Americans they met in present day Utah Valley.

To find out why and to learn more about what these men found in Utah of 1776 visit the Utah Curiosities and Inventions Exhibit at the Utah Museum of Art and History.

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