The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Great Salt Lake

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The American Cyclopædia
Great Salt Lake
Edition of 1879. See also Great Salt Lake on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GREAT SALT LAKE, an extensive sheet of water in Utah, lying in the Great Basin, between lat. 40° 40' and 41° 45' N., and lon. 111° 50' and 113° 10' W. Its outline is somewhat irregular. There are several islands, of which the principal are Church or Antelope island in the southeast, and Stansbury island in the southwest. The lake is 75 m. long from N. W. to S. E. and about 30 m. broad. Its surface is 4,200 ft. above the level of the sea. It has no outlet. The water is shallow, the depth in many extensive parts being not more than 2 or 3 ft. Utah lake, a body of fresh water 85 m. long and 100 ft. above the level of Great Salt lake is 26 m. S. E. of the latter, and flows into it through a river called the Jordan. Utah lake ahounds with fish. Bear river flows into the Great Salt lake from the north, and several smaller rivers from the east. The floods of spring spread the lake over large tracts, from which it recedes as summer advances. It was evidently once vastly more extensive than at present. The country around it is mostly desolate and barren, though there are portions which irrigation would render very fertile. The water is transparent, but excessively salt; it contains about 22 per cent. of chloride of sodium (common salt), slightly mixed with other salts, forming one of the purest and most concentrated brines in the world. Its specific gravity is 1.17. There are no fish in the lake, but several species of insects and a species of crustacean (artemia fertilis) have been found (see “United States Geological Survey of the Territories” for 1872, pp. 744-'5); and immense flocks of gulls, wild ducks, geese, and swans frequent its shores and islands. The water is so buoyant that a man may float in it at full length upon his back, having his head and neck, his legs to the knee, and both arms to the elbow, entirely out of water. If he assumes a sitting position, with the arms extended, his shoulders will rise above the water. Swimming, however, is difficult from the tendency of the lower extremities to rise above the surface; and the brine is so strong that it cannot be swallowed without danger of strangulation, while a particle of it in the eye causes intense pain. A bath in this water is refreshing and invigorating, though the body requires to be washed afterward in fresh water. — The first mention of the Great Salt lake was by Baron La Hontan in 1689, who gathered from the Indians west of the Mississippi some vague notions of its existence. It was explored and described in 1843 by Fremont, who was the first to navigate its waters. A thorough survey was made in 1849-'50 by Capt. Howard Stansbury of the United States army, whose report of “An Expedition to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake” was printed at Washington by order of congress in 1852. Another edition was published at Philadelphia in 1855. — “The City of the Great Salt Lake,” commonly called Salt Lake City, is situated on the Jordan river, which connects Lake Utah with the Great Salt lake, about 7 m. S. of the latter. (See Salt Lake City.)