Archive for April, 2015

April Announcement for the Utah Westerners

“A Real Rest in the Rugged West”

Susan Rugh and Lisa Michele Church

 What do John Wayne, author Vladimir Nabokov, and photographer Dorothea Lange have in common?  Each one stayed in a Utah motel.  In 1953 Utah native DeVoto reported in his Easy Chair column on a newly popular form of lodging growing up all over the West—the motel. Motels and “motel towns” sprouted like mushrooms along the highways of the West. Utah was in the forefront of motel mania.

Join us for this offbeat trip along Utah’s highways and byways to remember Utah’s motels, from Moab’s Apache and Atomic to Salt Lake City’s Spiking Inn.  Learn how St. George led with cabin camps, courts, and the state’s first motel pools.  Explore ranch-style architecture and neon waving cowboys that made Utah motels ruggedly western.  Discover the quirky motel names that enticed travelers to turn in. Marvel at the space-age signage of modern motels.  Be amazed at the palatial motor inns of our capital city that were paved over for parking lots (cue Joni Mitchell here).  We will talk about the appeal of motels, the romance of the road, and the hard truths of a dying family business.  Wear your sunglasses and bring your road maps for this journey back to the motels of yesteryear.

Susan Sessions Rugh is Professor of History at Brigham Young University and author of Are We There Yet?  The Golden Age of the American Family Vacation (2008).  Lisa Michele Church is a lawyer by profession, and has a distinguished career in public service.  Her articles, “Early Roadside Motels and Motor Courts of St. George” and “St. George: Early Years of Tourism” appeared in the Utah Historical Quarterly in 2012. Rugh and Church are writing a book on Utah motels and have previously presented at Utah State History, Mormon History Association, and Utah Heritage Foundation conferences.

April 16, 2015 at 9:43 am Leave a comment


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