The Commonwealth of Deseret (also known as Utah) is a survivor nation located in the Mountain West of the former United States of America. Following the nuclear strike of Salt Lake City, Utah and much of the former United States was decimated.
History of Utah, Pre-Doomsday
Settled initially by Mormons, Utah gradually became a population center often serving as a mid-point rest between the population centers of the Great Plains and the west coast. Vying for statehood initially as the State of Deseret, Utah was consistently declined statehood by the US government until January 4, 1896.
History of Utah, Post-Doomsday
See also, History of Utah for a more in depth study of Utah's history.
The relative isolation of Utah due to the nuclear wastelands to the east and south and the growing Lakes Bonneville and Lahontan (in Utah and Nevada, respectively) have helped protect the Utahns from discovery by otherwise belligerent groups. Contact was made by the Municipal States of the Pacific in 2009. Delegations from Deseret were en route by this time to ANZC.
Negotiations have been brokered with the MSP and the NAU regarding use of the railway lines passing through the Snake River Valley. These talks began in January of 2010, and continue to the present in Pocatello. In April of 2010, it was announced that Utah would accede to the North American Union. The integration process was expected to take some five years, however, in March 2014, it was announced that integration was complete, and Utah was voted a full-fledged member of the North American Union.
Utah is governed secularly by a Governor-General and Vice-Generals. Many feel that the LDS Church plays a role as a shadow government, with all major decisions of the government being made pending tacit approval of the church. Some immigrants have complained of this, however, the status quo remains strongly entrenched.
Because the Great Salt Lake is one of the lower points of the Great Basin, it is actually an endorheic or pluvial lake. With the change in the climate brought on by the nuclear blast, removing the doldrums of the Equator and pushing the monsoon climate further north, the Great Salt Lake has begun to rise from its height in 1983 of 4,212. It is expected that with an increase over the prior 2.9 million acre-feet per year flowing into the Great Salt Lake, the level will continue to rise until a new outlet is breached.
Because of this growth, the citizens of Utah have constructed three dikes in the southwest corner of the Cache Valley, just north of Lehi and northwest of Delta. These dikes effectively protect the habitable centers of Utah from increasing flood. It is expected that the new Mormon Sea will crest around 4700 or 4800 feet. The Curlew Sluice has been cut and graded to this end, using the drainage of Raft River as its drainage into the Columbia River basin. Ongoing efforts are underway to lower the level of the sea to 4600 feet, if possible, however the volume of earth to be moved is prohibitive.
A future-accurate map of Utah has been made by the government of Fillmore. This has led to some confusion in those citizens moving northward, as they often expect the Mormon Sea to be filled to the brim -- however, this is not the case, nor will it likely be for some 50 years, if rainfall continues as it has since Doomsday.
The proposed Curlew Sluice has met with strong response from farmers down-river, fearing that the high salinity content of the water from the Mormon Sea will cause irrigation problems for those downstream. Due to this, Vice-Governor Evans has instituted a construction program near the sluice to remove the salt from the water clearing the sluice and re-introduce a more purified water to the Snake River. While this will prove costly, efforts have been undertaken to find ways to do this as ecologically and economically feasible as possible. Since the first outflow from the Mormon Sea is not expected until some time next decade, there is some time to construct measures to prevent the salinization of the Columbia drainage.
Due to its isolation Utah has been largely focused on its internal survival. As such, there has been very little economic contact with other nations aside from Dinétah. Recent contact with the MSP and its membership in the NAU has created an increased push for settlement in Northern Deseret, as it appears that any major trade route will pass through the Snake River Valley. Vice-Governor Evans has pushed for the construction of trading stations and improvement of the rail-lines, using steel rails produced at the Deseret Steel plant on the shores of Utah Lake. This has proved a boon to Utah County's population, although a detriment to the health because of smog. These rails are shipped across the Mormon Sea and moved overland from the rail outpost built at Tremonton.
Utah is largely agrarian and relies heavily on the coal mined in Carbon County to fuel the steam trains that have been revived. These trains have been based on the only functional steam train in the region, the Heber Creeper, formerly Union Pacific's 618. These trains now serve both passengers and freight throughout Utah, with coal trains coming to Springville, a central hub for coal distribution. A large amount of this coal is shipped to the Intermountain Power Plant at Delta, which supplies electricity for much of the state.
Utah retains compulsory conscription in the armed forces to defend the state against aggression from without, and active scavenging parties continue to raid all surrounding areas that might contain war materiel.
Utah has not yet faced a military engagement since the Spokane War, but retains the military in the face of the public perception of threat from neighbors such as the Municipal States of the Pacific and Santa Cruz, as well as the risk from raiders.
Before Doomsday, Interstates 80 and 15 were the two main interstate highways in Utah. The former, I-80, traveled east-to-west through Utah from Colorado to Nevada. The latter, I-15, traveled south-to-north through the state from Nevada to Wyoming. Other minor highways include I-84 from Idaho and I-70, which leads to the multiple national parks in southern Utah.
During Doomsday, the nuclear strikes on Salt Lake City, combined with the sudden resurgence of the Mormon Sea practically destroyed any major highway connections to northern Utah from the south. In recent years, especially with Utah becoming a member of the North American Union, the Department of Transportation has embarked on reconstruction program that would either rebuild existing sections of highways or create new ones. Most estimates place the earliest completion date for the new highway system would be the end of 2019 or 2020.
Due to the limited reserves of petroleum, the most common form of private transportation in Utah is the horse. The horse and the resurrection of the horse-drawn carriage industry has allowed for civilians to travel between cities and towns. All forms of motorized transportation is strictly reserved to government, military, and emergency services.
Rail transportation has become a major part of Utah's economy. It allows for transportation of goods and people across the country, especially between major cities and towns. Most of the trains are steam-powered and receive their coal from what had been Carbon County, Wyoming. With Utah becoming a member of the North American Union, the process of integrating its rail lines with those of other nations has begun. The steel needed for the construction of new lines is produced by the Deseret Steel Mill.
Air transportation within Utah is strictly limited to government, military, and emergency services. The petroleum needed to fly the planes is imported from the U.S. state of Nebraska, resulting in the aircraft being deployed when absolutely necessary. The largest airport that houses most of the government and military aircraft is Provo Municipal Airport.
Utah's dominant religious body, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormonism), operates amateur sports leagues in numerous sports, including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football, ice hockey, volleyball, track and field, etc. In keeping with the traditions of the Church, no Church-sanctioned athletic competitions of any kind are held on Sundays (a tradition that dates back to Brigham Young University's participation in U.S. intercollegiate athletics).
Beginning in 2006, organized athletic competitions were held on a domestic level, and with teams from nearby Dinétah and the North American Union. Pre- and post-Christmas high school basketball tournaments in Provo and Fillmore attract teams from all corners of the Deseret, as well as from the NAU and Dinétah.
There has also been talk of teams from Utah joining the professional football and ice hockey leagues of the NAU.
BYU has approached universities in Lincoln, the NAU and West Texas about some type of resumption of intercollegiate athletics, at least on a regional level.