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"Zion's Savings Bank and Trust Company opened for business on Thursday last. This institution is a cooperative one, and we think it is likely to meet with favor. The interest allowed is at a rate of ten cent per annum, compounded semi-annually. It will be found of considerable advantage to those who wish to save money for the emigration of their families, as the interest is large; and sums as low as $1.00 will be received, which, if continually added to, will soon reach a considerable amount, and the depositors will hardly miss the money."

Brigham Young, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and founder of Zion's Savings Bank
and Trust Company, in a letter to his friend Albert Carrington in
England, October 3, 1873

The history of Zions Bancorporation stretches back to the early days of settlement in Utah. At the time of the bank's formation, the first settlers had been in the Salt Lake Valley only 26 years and Utah was still 23 years away from statehood. Zion's Savings Bank and Trust Company was incorporated in 1873 with a capital stock of $200,000. On its first day of business, the state's first chartered savings bank and trust company recorded $5,876 in deposits.

The bank prospered and grew during the next 20 years. In the panic of 1893, Zion's faced an economic challenge created in part by the bitter battle over silver coinage. The resulting downturn was felt especially hard in the West. It was during this time that the bank met and passed its first real test. The bank managed not only to remain solvent, but to continue to grow.

As the twentieth century began, Zion's was making significant contributions to the business community in Utah. In fact, Zion's helped finance such firms as Bingham Copper Company (later Kennecott Copper); Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad Company (now Union Pacific); Big Cottonwood Power Company (now Rocky Mountain Power, a division of Pacificorp); and Salt Lake Gas Company (later Mountain Fuel and today Questar Gas).

The depression of 1907 was the lone interruption in the steady growth of Zion's Savings Bank. Even with this interruption, deposits grew from just over $2 million to a healthy $9 million between 1901 and 1918. By the time the bank celebrated its 50th year in business in 1923, its resources had grown to $12 million.

At the time of the stock market crash in October 1929, the bank was in a very sound financial position. Unfortunately, the subsequent depression had severe consequences for the entire country. Fortunes had been swept away, factories lay idle, farms were undergoing foreclosures, and long lines of men waited for jobs. There were also a growing number of involuntary bank closings, which made depositors nervous about the safety of their funds, even at a solid bank like Zion's. On the morning of February 15, 1932, customers began a run on the bank, waiting in lines that ran out of the building and into the street. Tellers were instructed to honor all withdrawal requests. In two and a half days a total of $1.5 million was withdrawn. Near the end of the second day, bank president Heber J. Grant placed a sign in the bank's window that read, in part:

"[The bank] is in a very strong, clean, liquid
condition. It can pay off every depositor in full.
Fear of its failure is not only without foundation,
but positively foolish. There is no safer bank
in the State or the Nation."

Lines of customers that had been as long as a city block began to dwindle, and within five or six days several customers returned to deposit their money. By month's end, total deposits were more than withdrawals, and Zion's had survived the most severe crisis in American banking history.

On December 31, 1957, Zion's Savings Bank and Trust Company, Utah Savings and Trust Company (1889) and First National Bank of Salt Lake City (1890) merged to form Zions First National Bank. The newly enlarged institution had a total of $109.5 million in deposits. At this time, the apostrophe in the bank's name was dropped.

On April 22, 1960, majority control of Zions First National Bank was sold to a group of businessmen headed by Leland B. Flint, Roy W. Simmons and Judson S. Sayre. At the time of the sale, Zions had total deposits of just under $120 million. These individuals subsequently exchanged their bank shares for shares of Zions Utah Bancorporation, which had previously been known as Keystone Insurance and Investment Company. The company's name was changed to Zions Bancorporation in 1987.

In 1965, the company moved into the newly constructed Kennecott Building at One South Main Street, The first public offering of stock in Zions Bancorporation was made in January 1966. There continued to be some minority shareholders of Zions First National Bank until April 1972, when the company exchanged the remaining bank minority shares for common shares in the holding company.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Zions grew into a major statewide banking system by acquiring a number of community banks around Utah and opening de novo offices. When banking laws were liberalized in the 1980s, Zions Bancorporation's holdings expanded into other states in the West. The first acquisition took place in 1985 with the purchase of Nevada State Bank. The following year the company entered Arizona with the acquisition of Mesa Bank. Expansion continued into Colorado and New Mexico with an acquisition in 1996, followed by Idaho and California in 1997, Washington in 1998, and Oregon and Texas in 2005.

Today, Zions Bancorporation operates more than 450 full-service banking offices in 11 Western and Southwestern states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, with more than $50 billion in assets and more than 10,000 employees. It is one of the 50 largest banking companies in the United States and a member of the S&P 500 Index.

From its humble beginning in the late 1800s to its present position as one of the premier financial institutions in the country, Zions has maintained its pioneering spirit and unique way of doing business.


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