It was a celebration of aging civil war veterans and it put our state on the map as a place capable of hosting huge crowds on the national stage.
Way back in August of 1909, only 13 years after Utah gained statehood, the nation was keeping an eye on Salt Lake City.
That's when the Grand Army of the Republic marched into town for a week long encampment.
"It was an organization that really focused primarily on civil war veterans or to memorialize or consider themselves with the care of the veterans," says Director of State History, Brad Westwood.
People from all over came by train, horseback and even walked to be part of the celebration. About 50,000 people to be exact, nearly doubling the population at the time.
"Your neighborhoods had people living in them, hotels were full, the tents were on the perimeter of the city and here in Salt Lake City," says Westwood.
Utah was ready to capitalize, showing the country the state was capable of hosting the masses. The pinnacle of the event was a parade, held on August 11th, 104 years ago.
"This was a parade of grand human proportions from one edge of the street to the other," says Westwood.
A grand display honoring those who fought in the Civil War and signaling a new era for our young state.
"Much of the resistance and isolationism of Utah had faded by then. This was one of the groups that came in to demonstrate Utah was very interested in interacting and hosting many events that were of national significance," says Westwood.
Laying a foundation of hospitality that to this day still ranks as one of the greatest hosting moments in our state's history.
"When you think of the Olympics in 2002, as I understand it we had about 50,000 guests in our city. In 1909, when GAR was here they doubled from 50,000 to 100,000," says Westwood.