Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Salt Lake

I guess the third time is the charm.  We drove through Salt Lake City on our way to Alaska, but we did not go to see the Great Salt Lake.  On our way home from Nevada last spring, we drove through Salt Lake City but we did not stop to see the Great Salt Lake.  So this time through, Don was determined to stop.

Our first attempt was at Willard State Park, an area that appeared to be part of the Salt Lake and indeed it was . . . in 1964.  At that time it was decided to build a dyke to contain the fresh water that flows into the lake.  This way, the citizens of Utah (Utahans?) could enjoy a freshwater park that allowed for skiing, fishing, and swimming.

$15 donated to the Utah State Parks later, we proceeded to Antelope Island, one of the more fascinating places we have visited.  Situated not far off the shore of the lake, a southern causeway was built to Antelope Island in the 1950's.  In the 1980's it was washed out, keeping cars off the island until the causeway on the north opened in 1993.

We first saw bison roaming the prairie around the visitor center.

We learned the bison were introduced by John Dooly, Sr., who owned the island, and William Glassmann in 1893.  Glassman had tried to start a bison herd south of the lake, but it did not succeed and he sold his herd to Dooly.  They brought 4 bulls, 4 cows, and 4 calves to the island to begin a hunting operation.  The hunting dwindled the herd to just a few, but public sentiment began to take over and the hunts were discontinued. Since then, with careful management, the herd has become a group of 500 - 700 which makes it one of the largest and oldest publicly owned bison herds in the nation.

We also saw a beautiful antelope grazing near the bison.  Antelope were introduced to the park, and in the 1990's, bighorn sheep were introduced.  The sheep have been quite successful in reproducing and they are now transplanted to other areas of the nation.

Although the visitor center is small, we found the information to be fascinating.

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