In yesterday’s post I made an offhand reference to Utah, prompting the following question from my brother Bryan:
Q1: What happened in Utah? Did I miss that post?
A1: No, you didn’t miss that post. There’s background information that I haven’t posted yet. This includes Utah.
The State of Utah is a semi-independent member of the Fed. It participates in national elections, and sends Senators and Representatives to Congress, but doesn’t accept the authority of the Reconciliation Committee, nor follow their dictates (including residency policies).
Though it officially only covers the geographic boundaries of the former State of Utah, unofficially Utah incorporates portions of southern Idaho, south-west Wyoming, and western Colorado. (The Free City of Denver is not included.) People in these areas participate in state and national elections as citizens of Utah, and are governed by Utah law and courts. The rest of the Fed doesn’t like this, but turns a blind eye.
Utah is unique among American states, in that it’s regained and even surpassed its population levels from before the plague (roughly 3 million, in 2039). This is due to the family sizes of LDS Church members (the “Mormon Church”, members of which comprise about 66% of the state’s population), approximately 4.8 children per family on average, and the number of refugees who settled there before Emergence (roughly 400,000).
Today, Utah is known for agriculture (it’s the largest non-Chartered Company agricultural center in the 48), charity towards refugees, and firearms. “Don’t fuck with the Mormons,” the saying goes, “because they make good guns and aren’t afraid to use them.” Utahns tend to be friendly towards outsiders, but harsh towards malefactors.
Browning Arms Company is responsible for the State’s reputation for firearms. The company is the largest arms producer in the western US, and manufactures weapons and ammunition (including rifles, shotguns, bows, and more) for internal sale and export.
Browning weapons are known for their high quality, reliability, and low cost of ownership. Consequently, they are extremely popular weapons, especially in the Outlaw. Browning guns are the second-most common weapons in the Outlaw, just above locally produced firearms. (Pre-Collapse arms are the most common.)
Salt Lake City (the state capitol) is a linchpin for Fed travel routes, because of its location, lack of bandits, and local gasoline production. Nearly all traffic from California to the east has to pass through SLC, and the Fed’s nascent freight rail lines run the same route. Utah markets sell goods from all over the Fed.
The Wasatch Mountains, Bonneville Salt Flats, and Zion National Park all see a large number of vortexes, far above the national average. Utah has a small bureau of officers trained in vortex-jumping, but they are nowhere near as expert as the Rangers or BP. The State of Utah relies heavily on Guns for these kinds of incursions.
Life in Utah is hard, but not as desperate as many other areas of the Fed. The State is a net agricultural exporter (if only just), meaning it produces enough food to feed all its citizens. The Church’s food program (expanded to include refugees, post-Collapse) also provides a limited safety net: if they’re willing to work, and the food is available, people won’t starve. They may be hungry much of the time, but they won’t die of starvation.
(I’ll talk about the post-plague history of Utah in the next post.)