Monday, December 19, 2016

1904: A Plan to Raise the Great Salt Lake Level with Dikes

           Taylor Arave stands next to landlocked buoy in 2008, in front of Fremont Island.

By Lynn Arave

"PLAN to raise Salt Lake's level" was an April 28, 1904 headline in the Salt Lake Tribune. In that era, the lake's level had been dropping. In fact, Lagoon resort had abandoned its lake shore location about eight years prior (and moved inland), because of a diminished GSL.
The 1904 plan was to built dikes between Antelope Island and Fremont Island, thus creating two sections of the lake. Then, the 20 percent of the lake on the east side, could be fed with fresh water from streams.
This plan was the brainchild of Salt Lake resident John E. Dooly.
By 1920, Dooly was advocating that such dikes could help create a lakeside resort, complete with summer cottages nearby. He even envisioned a railroad line running all around the dikes, to showcase the beauty of the area (according to the Deseret News on Feb. 21, 1910).
Jump ahead two more decades and there was another plan for dikes to freshen the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake yet again (Salt Lake Telegram newspaper, June 20, 1930).
In later years, the idea also came too, but it was never attempted.
In late 2016, the lake level is near its lowest ever level, not just from drought, but because so much previous lake inflow is withheld for residential and business use.
Thus, if any of these dike ideas had been implemented decades ago, the eastern side of the lake could still be mostly a dust bowl, as it is today.
-Still, a causeway road was built to Antelope Island in the early 1960s and despite washing out various times over the years, it is still in use today.

A 1950s plan to dike the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake.

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