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Salt Lake City International Airport turns 100 years old

Kem C. Gardner, former Salt Lake City Advisory Board chairman, and Laura Lee, daughter-in-law of Lawrence Lee, unveil a bust of Lawrence (Larry) H. Lee, former president and CEO of Western Airlines, during a ceremony to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Bill Wyatt, Salt Lake City Department of Airports executive director, watches on the left. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City International Airport began its life as Woodward Field 100 years ago as a place for planes to deliver the mail. On Monday night, dozens gathered in the new terminal to celebrate its centennial birthday and its status as an international airport. 

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer thinks its location has made it increasingly popular with travelers.  

“We’re considered the ‘Crossroads of the West’. I think that having the location here in Salt Lake and being so close to the ski areas, to the National Parks drives a lot of tourism to this area,” Volmer says. 

People also like flying into Salt Lake City International Airport. 

“We also are noted frequently as being a very well run airport,” Volmer says. “Everyone really does an incredible job of making sure that things run smoothly.”   

What also helps is being a hub for a major airline. 

When Western Airlines was bought out in 1987, there was a concern for the future of the airport. 

But Delta has committed to the area. 

“[With] Delta remaining here in Salt Lake, certainly that has made us into an international hub,” Volmer says. 

During Monday’s ceremony, a bust of former Western Airlines President and CEO Lawrence “Larry” H. Lee was unveiled. 

Lee was instrumental in helping grow the airport, according to Volmer. 

To celebrate its 100th year, the airport has also launched a digital history book with facts and photos. The book and a documentary about the new terminal are on the airport’s website.