Anglo settlements in the Basin often sprang from Mormon State of Deseret colonization efforts. The Mormon-established Basin towns still had rows of tell-tale poplars as late as the 1950s. Native Americans had for generations lived a finely balanced hunting-gathering lifestyle tuned to the local resources. Transportation nurtured more stable population centers. Ranching was a dispersed endeavor throughout the Basin, and mining towns flourished and disappeared from the 1870s to 1930s. By the 1980s many of the old districts had revived through new technology (particularly open-pit mining of finely disseminated deposits and large-scale heap leaching in the Nevada Gold Belt), but long commutes to towns with core services are now the norm.
Historical "sites" are generally more linear and route oriented than point or site oriented due to the nature of the Great Basin as a transit corridor and a topographically broken semi-arid land. Most are associated with the major themes of transportation, mining, ranching, and national defense.
In Utah, Promontory Summit is a railroad transportation time machine of major significance, the stuff of dreams. The old air force base at Wendover housed and trained the crews who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan that dropped the curtain on World War II. Dugway Proving Grounds, Tooele Army Depot, and Hill Air Force Base are testaments to more than four decades of the Cold War. The Tintic Mining District is another superb time slice for the epic story of mining in the West.