The Moab Museum’s photographic collection contains a wide array of photos of gatherings, including parties, school plays, graduations, and parades through downtown. These events and celebrations have changed over time, and looking back at the photographs of parades over the decades gives viewers today a window into distinct chapters of Moab’s past.
For many years, Moab held a parade in recognition of Pioneer Day. Observed on July 24th, Pioneer Day commemorates the arrival of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Early Euro-American settlers of Moab in the late 1800s and early 1900s often celebrated Pioneer Day by wheeling hand-carts down Main Street, creating floats, and playing music.
During the heyday of uranium mining in the 1950s, Moab’s celebrations and parades reflected the changing economy of the town. Ornate parade floats included a punny “yellow cake” in celebration of yellowcake, an intermediate product in the processing of uranium ore. Floats sponsored by mining-related businesses provided strong evidence of Moab’s mining-dominated economy, and the spirit palpable in photographs of the parade provide strong evidence that Moabites were proud to be the so-called uranium capital of the world.
While Moab no longer holds an official Pioneer Day parade and a Uranium Queen is no longer crowned in town, both events are part of the varied cultural fabric of the Moab Valley. Today’s events and celebrations, like those of the past, are a product of the community’s ever-evolving culture and values.
The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. This is part of a series highlighting photographs and stories of downtown Moab over time. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.