The New International Encyclopædia/Great Salt Lake
GREAT SALT LAKE. An extensive sheet of salt water in northwestern Utah, near which is situated Salt Lake City. It lies in one of the great valleys of the Rocky Mountains, on the eastern edge of the Great Basin (q.v.), and is about 75 miles long, and 30 to 50 miles wide. There are nine islands in the lake, one of which is 16 miles and another 12 miles in length. The lake occupies a shallow depression, with an average depth of less than 20 feet; the surface lies about 4250 feet above sea-level. Owing to the annual variation of rainfall in the region, the lake is subject to great fluctuations in area; in 1850 its area was 1750 square miles, but it had increased to 2170 miles in 1869. During the period 1880-90 the waters subsided considerably, but recently they have again begun to rise. The lake receives from the south, through the Jordan River, the waters of Utah Lake, which are fresh, and from the north the drainage of Bear River, but it has no outlet. Its water is a concentrated natural brine, containing about 22 per cent. of sodium chloride, slightly mixed with other salts, and having a specific gravity of 1.1+. The manufacture of salt by evaporation of the lake water is an important industry. The only animals known to live in the water are a small shrimp (Artemia gracilis) and the larva of a fly (Ephydra gracilis). The first mention of Great Salt Lake was by Baron La Hontan in 1689, who gathered some information concerning it from the Indians west of the Mississippi. It was first explored and described by Frémont in 1843. A survey was made in 1849-50 by Stansbury, and more elaborate surveys in recent years by the United States Geological Survey. Gilbert has shown that the lake in Pleistocene time covered a much larger area. (See Lake.) Garfield Beach, on the southern shores of Great Salt Lake, is a bathing resort visited by many tourists for the novelty of a bath in the waters, which are so heavy that the body easily floats. See Utah.