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President Warren G. Harding golfs in Utah and meets a historic woman

Editor's note: With the election season winding down and a new president about to take office, the Deseret News has decided to review the presidents who have visited Utah and explain what they did while they were on their trip through the Beehive State.

President Warren G. Harding visited Utah in June 1923. Aside from hitting the links at the Salt Lake Country Club, the president also got to meet Elizabeth Stapley, the first woman born in the Salt Lake Valley.

Just two months later, Harding died while he was in San Francisco. His body was transported through Ogden on the way to Washington, D.C., and a service was held for him at the Mormon Tabernacle, according to KSL.

Harding’s first trip to Utah was part of a western trip that brought him to Colorado, Idaho, and, at last, Alaska, making him the first president to visit that territory, according to Utah History to Go, a historical resource website owned by the state.

Harding arrived in Ogden aboard the “Presidential Alaska Special,” where he was then escorted to Lester Park, where more than 2,000 people waited for him.

"Words are unable to express my appreciation of the warm friendly spirit of this reception,” he told the crowd.

In the recent presidential election, the state’s 82,000 votes helped him defeat Democrat James M. Cox. Harding also supported many causes that Utahns embraced, like women's suffrage, enforcement of prohibition and anti-strike laws, according to Utah History to Go.

Harding also spoke at Liberty Park during his trip before he traveled to Hotel Utah for the night.

After visiting the north, Harding and his train ventured down to Zion National Park and Cedar City.

Harding and a few of his fellow government workers, like Utah Sen. Reed Smoot, traveled into the canyon on horseback.

His wife, Florence Harding, said she was especially fond of the trip.

"I am glad I came,” she said. “I would not have missed this trip for anything."

When Harding returned to Cedar City, he said that Zion had reaffirmed his religious beliefs, according to the Washington County Historical Society.

“I have today viewed the greatest creations of the Almighty in the majestic natural wonders of Zion National Park. It has inspired me with a deeper religious conviction,” he said. “I am acquainted with pioneer stock. It has made the United States. By the difference between the arid and cultivated sections I can read the story of your work."

"To you men and women who came with your families in covered wagons into this country when the water still flowed through its natural gorges, the nation owes a debt of gratitude," he said. "I am the first President of the United States to come and express that gratitude but I feel sure when I tell of this trip to my successors all future Presidents will come to visit this country of wonders.”

NEXT UP: Herbert Hoover

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.