Thursday, August 27, 2015

1924: When the Great Salt Lake was ‘drying’ up for good

              The Great Salt Lake has much more shoreline and marshes these day.

JUST over nine decades ago, some geologists believed the Great Salt Lake was drying up for good, not then understanding its natural cycles.
“America’s famous ‘Dead Sea’ soon to be dry land” was a Feb. 3, 1924 Standard-Examiner headline.
“Why the water in Great Salt Lake is rapidly vanishing and how one of the richest mineral deposits on earth will be laid bare when this immense ‘sink’ is empty,” was the sub headline with this national news story.
“Within a century the Great Salt Lake, in Utah, will have dried up,” the story predicted. It likened the GSL’s demise to that of its predecessor, Lake Bonneville. The Great Salt Lake had dropped 10 feet in depth from 1900-1915, until some exceptional wet years had recently gained most of that loss back.
“Were it to disappear, Salt Lake City would lose its principal attraction,” the story surmised. Also, a lack of buoyant bathing would be lamented by area resorts.
It stated that what would be left with the lake gone would be an immense sink, which would be worthless for agriculture, given its salty soil.
The story also noted the many similarities between the Dead Sea/Palestine and the Great Salt Lake/Salt Lake Valley.
(Some ninety-one years later in 2015, the lake is still there, though it is in another of its lowest ever cycles.)
More historical tidbits:
-“Syracuse Junction: North end of Davis County transformed by push to its people” was a May 7, 1907 Standard headline.
Although Syracuse would not even have a town board until 1935, it was steadily developing in its early years.
“No spot in Utah has developed more genuine push within its history than this district. Fifteen years ago the traveler was stared at by nothing but sage brush and burning sand for the entire distance between Layton and Ogden,” the story stated. “Today this same spot furnishes the canneries of the state with a product superior to any other in the inter-mountain region, and farms, supplied with everything the agriculturist could desire, dot the landscape.”
The Stewart Investment Company was dividing and developing the land there and the Weber River waters now diverted there for irrigation, had caused the desert to bloom.
 -“Selling the Fair Grounds” was a Dec. 19, 1913 Standard headline. William Glasmann, Standard publisher and former Ogden Mayor, responded to proposals to sell the Ogden fair grounds. He said the people of Ogden would later regret such a move.
“Fairs are not intended as profit makers,” Glasmann stated. “But improvers of products and breeds … Fairs pay indirectly, not directly.”
He also stated that if the Salt Lake Fair, which receives a $20,000 budget, can’t come close to making a profit, why should the Ogden Fair expect otherwise.
(More than a century later of fairs, their often lack of profits and gate receipts are still a controversy …)

 -Originally published on-line and in print on Aug. 27-28, 2015 in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, by Lynn Arave.

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:

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