This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Utah (U.S.)

Last modified: 2014-12-06 by rick wyatt
Keywords: utah | united states | deseret territory | eagle |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Flag of Utah]
image by Pete Loeser, 9 April 2012
based on:
  [Fringed Flag of Utah]
image by Pete Loeser, 9 April 2012
based on:

See also:

In 1896, a star was added, representing Utah, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 45. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Resolution to Correct Manufacturing Error

In 2011, Rep. Julie Fisher of Fruit Heights introduced a resolution to correct the state's flag after it was discovered that a mistake had been made in 1922 that lasted for 89 years. The year "1847," according to the 1913 statute, was supposed to be on the flag's shield, not hiding at the bottom or, worse, partially hidden behind it. But every Utah flag since 1922 kept on recreating that mistake.

John Hartvigson a member of NAVA stated that Colonial Flag, a local flag manufacturer and dealer, has just completed making a new 20 by 30 foot Utah flag with its correct historic design to be flown Wednesday, March 9 which now designated flag day.
Esteban Rivera, 10 March 2011

The House Concurrent Resolution to correct the Utah state flag passed both houses of the Utah Legislature this morning. At the signing ceremony held in the Utah State Capitol's Reception Room, the Gold Room, I was introduced as "Utah's Flag Expert." Well, until recently I was Utah's only NAVA member. It sounded nice anyway. Governor Gary Herbert held the flagstaff for me as I changed the fringed flag on display in the Gold Room.

The local ABC affiliate interviewed me and here is the link to their story
John Hartvigson, 16 February 2011

Flag Description

Since yesterday, March 9, 2011, the State of Utah has a new flag.

The change involves a correction of the placement of the date within the shield and changing the color of this shield from blue to white, as it was stipulated by the law.

More about the new flag at Salt Lake Tribune
Chrystian Kretowicz, 10 March 2011

The Utah flag, adopted in 1913, consists of a blue field in which is centered the Great Seal of Utah. The Great Seal consists of a thin gold circle, which encloses the coat of arms. The coat of arms contains of a beehive which has the state motto "INDUSTRY" arced above and the word "UTAH" below, and is flanked by sego lilies, the state flower. Six arrows originate from above "INDUSTRY" and go out past the border of the shield. An eagle is perched on top of the shield, ready to take flight. The shield is flanked by United States flags on both sides, their poles crossed behind the shield, and has "1847", the year of Mormon settlement immediately below, and "1896", the year of statehood further below. For display during special state events and for display at the state capitol and governors mansion, the flag is fringed with gold tassels on the three edges away from the flag pole.
Jeff Luck, 13 January 1997

The seal adopted in 1896 is a product of the time and tells us how Utahns of that time saw themselves, and perhaps more importantly, how they wanted the rest of the nation and the world to view them. They took the seal of the Utah Territory, and placed the device on a shield. The beehive is a symbol evoking the Provisional State of Deseret, which Congress rejected repeatedly. The beehive is a meaningful symbol of the pioneer's early existence in the Great Basin. The settlers were a self-sufficient community producing all their needs from the local sources as does a bee colony in a hive. In this case the sego lilies are a native flower from which the bees gathered their sustenance. The motto industry, together with the hive, represented the hard work required to survive in what was then a harsh and unfriendly environment. Not just to survive, but to make “the desert blossom like a rose.” As if they were placing new hives, settlements were founded and placed up and down the corridor from Salt Lake north to Canada and south to San Diego. The name Utah, forced on the settlers since Congress did not like Deseret because of its Mormon origin, is a Ute Indian word roughly meaning "people who live higher up in the mountains." The six arrows piercing the shield remembered the six tribes who inhabited Deseret before the coming of the settlers. Like the boundaries of the Provisional State of Deseret, the lands of these peoples is not cut out by the cookie cutter shape that the state of Utah produced when Congress cut off portions on all sides to create other states while ignoring petitions from the would be citizens of Deseret. While there were several reasons for Congress' repeated refusals of petitions for statehood, the fact was that these settlers were an unpopular minority that Congress did not want to admit on equal ground with other states. So the years 1847 and 1896 define a period in Utah history known locally as the struggle for statehood. So, in 1896 when Utah finally achieved statehood--the placement of the American Eagle and the crossed flags behind the shield announced to the nation and the world: "Despite all opposition, we made it, Utah is finally a state." It was for the same reason that these first citizens of the State of Utah made, at seventy-four by one hundred and thirty-two feet, what was then the largest flag in the world: A forty-five star flag U.S. flag with one larger star for the newest state, Utah.

When a need for a state flag came, they took the central emblem of the seal and placed it on a blue background. This flag remained unofficial. Since the designation ring had disappeared, they added the word Utah to the shield between the year 1847 and the beehive when the first legislation approved the design of a state flag in 1911. The first flag was embroidered in white on the blue background. When a flag was needed to present to the Battleship USS Utah, it was decided to change the white embroidery to full color. The first example of this color version was made by the Horstmann Company of Philadelphia. This prototype of the color version of the Utah State flag with its white shield was adopted by the Utah State Legislature in 1912 and 1913. No other copy of this first flag was made. The original color version of the flag was presented to the USS Utah and it did not return to the state. It may have gone down with the ship when Utah was sunk on December 7, 1941 in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When a second color Utah State flag was made in 1922, on the unofficial blue and white Utah State flag was available in Salt Lake City. It had a blue shield that was only outlined by the white embroidery. The embroiderer left off “1847”, the year of the pioneer's arrival when making the flag. “1847” is clearly missing in a photograph of the flags presentation to the governor of Utah. Since that flag still exists, we can see that “1847” was added to the emblembelow the blue colored shield. The incorrect flag was used as a pattern for later Utah State flags. I spotted the error in about 1985, and the Legislature finally asked that the flag's design be corrected when they passed House Concurrent Resolution 2 (HCR2) in the 2011 session. When we made up the prototype up for the corrected flag, State officials asked that the colors of the 1912 flag be used returning to the white shield. Paul Swenson, President of Colonial Flag Company, had his staff artist produce the design, following my instructions, of the flag used during the legislative process. He made initial orders of about two hundred flags using that design and had his sewers produce a twenty by thirty foot Utah State flag again using the same design. However, as Swenson examined the first version of the flag, he felt the design, especially the eagle, could be strengthened. Accordingly, he employed a graphic illustrator to improve the design within using the colors and design elements meeting the requirements of HCR2. As in heraldry, various artistic interpretations are equally valid. The new improved design is now the design being produced and sold. The initial stock of the prototype design has sold out. Only inexpensive Chinese prints appear to be available using the prototype design. However, as both the legislative prototype design and the enhanced version are artistic interpretations which are both valid and in accordance with the law, Utah State flags being flown in the Salt Lake area are (1) the old incorrect version allowed by HCR2 until the existing stock is exhausted (2) a few of the first corrected design with the weaker eagle, and (3) the enhanced version showing a bold eagle is currently being ordered by the two largest flag retailers in the Salt Lake Valley.

Any flag manufacturer who wants to produce another artistic interpretation, incorporating the colors and correct design, are certainly free to do so. That seems foolish as the free vector artwork is available for the enhanced design, and that is the most current design being sold in Utah.

All this notwithstanding, Flags of the World shows what is in use. I don't know of anyone in Utah who has asked for a critique or vote of approval. While some may wish that the Utah State flag had been replaced altogether, that was not the decision of Utah's Legislature in their representation of the people of Utah. Some Utahns would, of course, vote for a change; however, I feel confident a plebiscite of Utah's citizens would retain the current Utah State flag in its corrected form. Nevertheless, that is a decision for Utah's government and people. It is, after all, Utah's flag.

We also must remember, those who fly existing flags most often have not asked for and do not want "experts" to tell them what to do. Whitney [Smith] discussed this with me, and he emphasized that he feels the role of a vexillologist is to record flag history and record flags as they are used, and he was very dismissive of holding contests to redesign existing flags.
John M. Hartvigsen, 6 May 2011

Legal Description

Utah Code
63-13-5. The state flag of Utah shall be a flag of blue field, fringed, with gold borders, with the following device worked in natural colors on the center of the blue field: The center a shield: above the shield and thereon an American eagle with outstretched wings; the top of the shield pierced with six arrows arranged crosswise; upon the shield under the arrows the word "industry," and below the word "Industry" on the center of the shield, a beehive; on each side of the beehive, growing sego lilies; below the beehive and near the bottom of the shield, the word "Utah," and below the word "Utah" and on the bottom of the shield, the figures "1847"; with the appearance of being back of the shield there shall be two American flags on flagstaffs placed crosswise with the flags so draped that they will project beyond each side of the shield, the heads of the flagstaffs appearing in front of the eagle's wings and the bottom of each staff appearing over the face of the draped flag below the shield and flags and upon the blue field, the figures "1896"; around the entire design, a narrow circle of gold.
Joe McMillan, 21 February 2000

Flag Day

Every March 9 will now be Utah State Flag day with the passage of HB490 Wednesday.

It was also exactly the 100th anniversary of when the Legislature adopted the first state flag. The state also for the first time flew on Wednesday a new version of the state flag outside the Capitol.

"This establishes this day as the anniversary of our flag's adoption, just as [national] Flag Day [June 14] honors Congress' action in 1777 to adopt the Stars and Stripes," said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, Senate sponsor of the bill. The Senate unanimously passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for signature.

source: Salt Lake Tribune
Chrystian Kretowicz, 10 March 2011

State Seal 2011

[State Seal of Utah]
Image submitted by Pete Loeser, 15 March 2012

This is the redesigned Utah State Seal, companion to that used on the State flag.
Pete Loeser, 15 March 2012