Black Rock, Garfield, and Lake Point Resorts
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This page was last updated on November 11, 2023.
- (East to West)
- Black Rock Resort
- Garfield Resort (Garfield Landing) (one half mile west of Black Rock)
- Lake Point Resort (1-3/4 miles west of Black Rock)
- (Saltair is not included here) (Read more about the Saltair resort)
Early published sources list three resorts in the vicinity along the south shore of Great Salt Lake: Black Rock, Garfield, and Lake Point. Black Rock resort was the original resort on the lake's south shore, followed by Clinton's Lake Point resort, then Garfield Landing, and the largest, Garfield Beach Resort, which was owned by the Union Pacific railroad. The largest resort, Saltair, came in 1893, then in the 1930s there was the modern Black Rock Beach and Sunset Beach resorts.
Lake Point was the original mooring pier of the City of Corinne lake boat, launched in May 1871. During the 1871 months of June and July the steamboat kept a tri-weekly schedule, transporting passengers and cargo to and from Lake Point on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake and the transcontinental railroad at Corinne. Though Lake Point was a remote port far removed from Salt Lake City, investors worked hard to make it an appealing destination for their customers. In an attempt to make it work as a port, Fox Diefendorf, owner of the City of Corinne boat, invested in a newly invented "steam wagon" to transport ores from the Stockton and Ophir mines to the landing at Lake Point.
The following description of the three resorts comes from the June 30, 1895 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
From 1847 to 1860 it was one of the features of social life in Salt Lake to take trips to Black Rock. In the very early days the "pioneer wagon," which seated two dozen, made frequent trips, and the excursionists were often accompanied by the Nauvoo Brass Band. On Pioneer Day, July 24, 1851, a large party went out in wagons and celebrated at Black Rock. The lake was not nearly as deep then as now. The wagons were driven right out to Black Rock and were used as dressing rooms.
All the old-timers remember the wagon trips to Black Rock. Large parties would be made up. The old folks would go in the wagons, with the children, and young men would drive the girls in light buggies. At Black Rock the wagons would form camps and bathing was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The women used one side of the rocks and the men swam from the other.
The women used for bathing suits calico dresses, and the men overalls and light shirts. This sort of amusement was kept up for years and Black Rock was therefore the pioneer bathing resort. Daniel H. Wells built a long rock house on the shore in 1862. He had hay and other property in the neighborhood and the place was a sort of ranch-house. The house is still standing by the side of the railroad. The place became the headquarters of bathers, and as the years went on, bathing houses and other accommodations were built, and the place was exceedingly popular. Private parties were numerous, and Tom Mulloy's big wagons and drags were in constant demand for pleasure parties to Black Rock. The buildings have more recently been used for employees and visitors at Garfield.
"City of Corinne" was the name of a good-sized stern paddle-wheel steamer which was built and launched at Corinne in 1871. The boat was built to ply between Corinne, on the Central Pacific, to the farm of Jeter Clinton at Lake Point, which is just beyond Garfield. The idea of the owners was to haul ore from the Stockton mines across the lake to the railroad. Little was done in this respect, and the boat degenerated into a pleasure craft. A long pier was built at lake Point and another resort was established. Mr. Clinton, probably noting the seeming success of the small affair, thought of the project of erecting a hotel and making a resort at the Point. The Utah & Nevada, now Union Pacific, was being built to this place, an so the hotel was planned and erected at the same time.
The railroad opened for traffic to Black Rock on January 10, 1875, and was completed to Clinton's at lake Point in the same year. On May 14, 1875, about 250 old folks from Salt Lake county went out to the point and passed a merry day at Clinton's Hotel. The hotel was a large three-story rock building of Colonial design, with many and spacious porches. It immediately became popular with Salt Lakers, and many are the reminiscences of the place which could be related.
In June 1875, General James A Garfield, the martyred President, visited Dr. Clinton's in company with John W. Young, who had purchased the "City of Corinne" and was for making a mammoth resort at the Point.
He had the boat immediately repainted, and in honor of his visitor the name was changed to the "James A. Garfield," from which the present resort derives its name.
One of the peculiarities of Clinton's beach is that now the land is high and dry where once was the deepest water. This is the directly opposite condition at Black Rock.
There was some altercation over land rights at Lake Point, and the Garfield boat and pier were moved nearer this way, to the place where it is moored to-day. Captain Douris owned a strip of land here, and built the first Garfield resort, late in the seventies, on his own responsibility. The place consisted of many low-roofed buildings and a long pier, on which were the bath houses. The boat is moored at the end of this pier. Excursion parties divided the time then in going to Black Rock, Garfield or Lake Point, all of which are very near each other. Clinton's Hotel was kept up until early in the eighties, but it is now fallen in decay. The owner built it on the encouragement of Eastern parties, and at one time laughed at a cash offer of $40,000 for the property. he lost everything on the project, and all that now remains of the place are the walls and other buildings in what is now known as Buffalo Park.
May 24, 1881
All three resorts were mentioned as destinations for the Decoration Day holiday in 1881: "Decoration Day - On this approaching holiday the Utah Western Railway will bid for the patronage of the public in the shape of four trains running to favorite resorts - Black Rock, with Mr. Hyde and his genial smile, Lake Point, under the management of Mrs. Southworth, a lady well known for years in this city, and the new place, Garfield Landing, where the steamboat and Captain Douris will be waiting." (Salt Lake Herald, May 24, 1881)
June 10, 1881
A descriptive article of the three resorts stated that Garfield Landing was one-half mile west of Black Rock, and that Lake Point was one and a quarter mile west of Garfield Landing, making Lake Point one and three-quarter mile west of Black Rock. (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1881)
August 24, 1890
"At first—about 1876—the bathing was at Lake Point, the old Clinton stone house with its two-story piazzas all round, furnishing better quarters for a few days' stay at the lake than there has ever been since. The bath houses were rude, and built upon Diefendorf's pier. The water receded gradually until the pier was left dry. Bathing was then transferred to Black Bock, where it remained for three or four years. Meantime Garfield, which had still deeper water, was established, pier and bathing houses built, and the boat tied up for lunch and lodging purposes. This was about half a mile west of Black Rock. Lastly, the Union Pacific established the present bathing station near the old Garfield, with better bath houses, each containing a fresh water douche, with a dancing pavilion on piles out in the lake, with a good station house, eating booth across the track, and perfect conveniences every way so far as they go." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 24, 1890)
Black Rock Resort
Black Rock is a large rock outcropping on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, and today still visible from Interstate 80. The Black Rock outcropping is the dividing line between Salt Lake County to the east, and Tooele County to the west.
After Brigham Young arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, on July 27th he and a party of explorers visited Black Rock.
One of the earliest settlers in the vicinity of Black Rock was Charles White, who advertised regularly in newspapers, offering his excellent grazing grounds directly south of Black Rock for anyone wanting to fatten their cattle. (Deseret News, May 25, 1854)
"Daniel H. Wells built a long rock house on the shore in 1862. He had hay and other property in the neighborhood and the place was a sort of ranch-house. The house is still standing by the side of the railroad. The place became the headquarters of bathers, and as the years went on, bathing houses and other accommodations were built, and the place was exceedingly popular." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 30, 1895)
(This is the only reference in online sources to Daniel H. Wells owning the large stone house at Black Rock.)
(There are numerous references in secondary sources to the stone house at Black Rock being owned by Heber C. Kimball, but no online references in the period of 1860 to 1900 confirm this. Heber Chase Kimball died in June 1868. The origin of Kimball's Black Rock House appears to be a history of Tooele County published by the Utah Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Kimball's son, Heber P. Kimball, owned a ranch about one-half mile west of Black Rock, and was the site of Douris' Garfield Landing pier and bath houses.)
"Black Rock House" was shown as a destination for travelers who wish "A Splendid View of Great Salt Lake." The westbound coaches of the new Overland Mail Company departed Salt Lake City at 1 p.m., arriving in time at the Black Rock public house to allow some sight-seeing, with a timely return to Salt Lake City on the same day, on the regularly scheduled eastbound coach. Black Rock House offered meals and lodgings, with a boat at hand for those who might want to use it. (Daily Union Vedette, July 13, 1866)
June 15, 1874
Utah Western Railway was organized to buy the defunct Salt Lake, Sevier Valley & Pioche Railroad. The SLSV&P had been organized in May 1872 to build west from Salt Lake City to Tooele and south to the mining camps in Nevada. The SL,SV&P began grading west from Salt Lake in April 1873, but before they could get tracks laid, financial and management problems developed which caused the company to fail. The new Utah Western assumed the previous road's debt and acquired its unfinished grade between Salt Lake City and Lake Point, 20 miles to the west. In return for the reorganization, and control by John W. Young, the officers of the SL,SV&P took stock in the Utah Western. (Reeder, pp. 257-280; Athearn, p. 278; both citing Deseret Evening News, August 31, 1874)
January 10, 1875
"Utah Western Railway. On and after Monday January 11th, 1875, and until further notice, the Utah Western Railway Company will run daily trains for passengers and freight, between Salt Lake City and Black Rock. Leave Salt Lake City at 7:30 a. m. Arrive at Black Rock 9 a.m. Leave Black Rock 12 noon. Arrive at Salt Lake City 1:30 p. m. The stages of the Western Stage Co. connect with trains at Black Rock for Tooele, Stockton, Ophir and Dry Canyon, and street cars at Salt Lake City. Through tickets can be procured on the train. All freight for the west will be received at the U. C. Depot, between 1:30 and 5 p. m. H. P. Kimball, Supt. Salt Lake City, Jan. 9, 1875." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, January 10, 1875)
January 11, 1875
"Trains are now running on the Utah Western regularly to Black Rock." (Daily Ogden Junction, January 11, 1875)
February 10, 1875
"A Pleasant Ride. The party of ladies and gentlemen, who, on invitation of the officers of the Utah Western railroad, rode over the line to Clinton's, Lake Point, yesterday, had a very pleasant time. The commissioners of inspection, on whom falls the duty of accepting of the work, were on board the train. The road, considering that it is new, is very smooth. The party stopped a short time near Black Rock, and, at Lake Point, went on board the steamer City of Corinne, which is moored by the building. Clinton's new hotel, a large and somewhat imposing building, was also visited. The Doctor expects to have it finished and ready for guests in about one month from now, and anticipates doing a Saratoga hotel business in it during the approaching Summer." (Deseret Evening News, February 10, 1875)
April 13, 1875
A newspaper item about a granite pillar installed to measure the rise and fall of the level of the Great Salt Lake, noted that the pillar had been installed "at the Black Rock Branch of the Townsend House." (Deseret Evening News, April 13, 1875)
May 31, 1876
"Black Rock. Mr. Faust and wife have recently taken this place, with a view to making this a summer resort. They have planted trees, and are building bathing houses, with sail and row boats, horses and buggies, saddle horses, and will no doubt succeed." (Deseret News, May 31, 1876)
January 7, 1880
"Changed Hands. The Black Rock property, which includes a stone house and two or three hundred acres of land, on the southern border of the Salt Lake, has been bought by Messrs. Alonzo Hyde and D. J. Taylor, of this city, who intend turning the place into a summer resort, and making its great natural advantages as a watering place, contribute to the public enjoyment next season. The erection of bath houses, swings, laying out of croquet grounds, etc., will be commenced early in the Spring." (Deseret Evening News, January 7, 1880)
June 20, 1880
Alonzo Hyde and David John Taylor announced that their recently renovated Black Rock Bathing Resort was open to the public. "Black Rock Bathing Resort. Having entirely renovated these premises, erected one hundred fine, large Bathing Houses, a large Bowery, Swings, etc., we now open these grounds to the public, and with the advantage of having the finest bathing on the lake, hope, by close attention to business and to the wants and comforts of visitors, to secure a fair share of public patronage. Lunches and all kinds of refreshments to be had on the grounds at city prices. A limited number of boarders can be accommodated at the hotel, where the table will be furnished with the best the market affords. Special inducements offered to Schools and Excursion Parties wishing to spend a day at the lake, arrangements for which can been made with D. J. Taylor, at carpet department, Z. C. M. I. Hyde & Taylor, Proprietors."(Salt Lake Herald, June 20, 1880)
(The 1880 and 1881 seasons were the only seasons that Hyde & Taylor are mentioned in online newspapers in connection with Black Rock.)
June 10, 1881
"Black Rock. In the first place this noted resort comes in for a detailed notice. Here one is surprised at the substantial improvements now being made. A row of double cottages is nearly completed, where rooms with or without board may be obtained during the season. An elegant dancing hall has also been erected, with promenade balcony, where the visitors can sit and watch the movements of bathers. This structure is thirty feet wide and fifty-six long, substantial and elegant. The bowery that was erected last year will be floored over to avoid dust. A splendid pier leading to deep water has also been erected. Quite an assortment of pleasure boats are also on hand. The proprietors, Messrs. Hyde & Taylor, claim to have the finest sailboat on the lake. There are 100 bath houses properly supplied. Seventy-five permanent boarders can be accommodated; terms, $2 per day, with privilege of using the bath houses included. There is room for parties of almost any number up to 500 persons. City Creek water is furnished to visitors for drinking purposes; a bicycle track is being made, and almost everything that can contribute to the pleasure of visitors seems to be provided." (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1881)
June 20, 1885
"Black Rock will not be opened to the bathing public this year. It is expected that the reopening of the old Clinton Hotel at Lake Point will occur on July 4th." (Salt Lake Herald, June 20, 1885)
The roadbed of the previous narrow gauge Utah Western (later Utah & Nevada) had been abandoned after a new standard gauge cutoff was completed in 1902. Photos indicate that at Black Rock, the new line was about 100 feet to the south of the old narrow gauge line.
When the Western Pacific railroad built its line along the south shore of Great Salt Lake in the last half of 1906, the track and roadbed was on a off-shore fill that passed between the Black Rock outcropping, and the stone house, which by this time was without its roof.
July 16, 1907
"Years ago Black Rock was popular as a resort. Hotel and bathing accommodations were operated there in the early eighties. In 1885 the water became so deep that the place was temporarily deserted and Lake Point became the principal resort on the lake. At that time Douris and Anderson were the lessees. The resorts were owned by the Union Pacific Railroad company, having been purchased from Captain Thomas Douris and other holders about 1876." A proposal to reopen Black Rock as a resort was announced, saying that while the lake had receded at the other resorts, the water at Black Rock, owing to the nearby rock formations, was entirely deep enough for a bathing resort. Garfield Beach [one-half mile west of Black Rock] had closed in about 1897 because the receding waters had left the pavilion and bath houses high and dry. Work was to begin in the fall, but an excursion was planned for July 24th, making use of newly constructed bath houses. Special trains on the Salt Lake Route were run, taking an estimated 500 "ex-Canadians" to the resort. Special tents were erected, bathing suits were furnished, and refreshments were served. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, July 16, 1907; Inter-Mountain Republican, July 18, 1907; Salt Lake Telegram, July 24, 1907; Salt Lake Tribune, July 25, 1907)
The resort mentioned above was not built. From 1907 until the resorts of the 1930s, the few references in online newspapers to Black Rock in the years following 1907 were as a geologic oddity viewable from passing trains. The Black Rock outcropping is also mentioned in several newspaper touring guides for early automobile travelers. The railroad station of Black Rock, Utah, 25 miles south of Milford, is mentioned much more often because of the active mining in the vicinity, and the large ranches and sheep shearing operations at that location.
December 20, 1919
From an article about Garfield Beach, "Famous Pleasure Resort of Years Gone By"... "About half a mile east of the resort was Black Rock, still a landmark on the lake shore, and promising to remain on guard there for many generations to come, for its hard texture defies the erosion of wind and storm. Three or four large stone houses were built there in early years, each accommodating several families. During the summer seasons in the eighties and nineties it was a favorite spot of families moving out there for the heated season to be near the lake for its exhilarating bathing and cool breezes. A large bowery was constructed there and picnic parties were the rule for many seasons. It was considered quite a feat in those days to swim from one resort to the other." The article mentions that the construction of a larger resort [Saltair] closer to the city was the reason for the "passing" of both Garfield Beach and Black Rock as resorts, and that no sign "remains to day to mark the spot." (Deseret News, December 20, 1919)
May 15, 1925
With the recent fire on April 22, 1925 that destroyed much of the Saltair pavilion, and reports from the owners that it would likely not be rebuilt, there was much discussion among business leaders in Tooele County to build a new resort on the Tooele County side of Black Rock. It was noted that the beaches along the 1-1/2 mile stretch between the former sites of the Lake Point and Black Rock resorts were the most suitable on the shores of the lake due to the lack of firm soils and the lack of mud flats and marshes. Access to the stretch of beach was also noteworthy because of the recently completed Lincoln Highway, and the close proximity of two railroads. But with the announcement in late January 1926 that Saltair would be rebuilt better and grander than ever, the talk of a new location fell by the wayside. (Tooele Transcript Bulletin, May 15, 1925; Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1925; Salt Lake Telegram, May 20, 1925; Salt Lake Tribune, January 27, 1926)
From 1926 to 1930, Black Rock was mentioned regularly as the site for a proposed (and later completed) public boat harbor for Salt Lake County.
Direct access to the beaches was limited because the shoreline was owned by one or both railroads whose tracks ran along the south shore. In 1930 and 1931, changes came when the State of Utah claimed, and won ownership of exposed land below the so-called meander line of lake levels that had been surveyed in both 1855 and upon Utah becoming a state in 1896. Above the meander line the land was federally owned, or in private hands. Below the meander line, the state land board decided to lease use of the land to increase state revenue and to provide public access.
(The Garfield Landing pier, built by Captain Douris for his General Garfield lake boat, was 1/2 mile west of Black Rock.)
(The Garfield Beach resort, built in 1887 by Union Pacific's Utah & Nevada subsidiary, was 600 feet east of the original Garfield Landing pier, and that much closer to Black Rock.)
Garfield Landing (1880-1887)
Garfield Resort (1887-1899)
The site of Garfield Landing, and its pier, was on the lake shore, immediately north of the ranch and residence of Heber P. Kimball, which was on the stage road between Salt Lake City and Tooele. The Kimball ranch was a well known location, due to its being a stop on the stage route of the Wine & Kimball stage line between Salt Lake City and the Tintic mines. Heber P. Kimball was a well-known stock raiser, including prize-winning bulls and horses. Kimball was the treasurer and general superintendent of the unbuilt Salt Lake, Sevier Valley & Pioche railroad. He held the same positions with the railroad when it was reorganized as the Utah Western in 1874. Heber P. Kimball was also the proprietor of the Ophir Stage Line, which operated coaches between Salt Lake City and Ophir. Heber Parley Kimball died on Sunday February 8, 1885, at age 49.
July 20, 1880
"Captain Douris is erecting a wharf a short distance beyond Black Rock; he will also erect bathing houses in time, and run the Garfield in connection with them." (Salt Lake Herald, July 20, 1880)
September 30, 1880
Garfield Landing became a station stop on the Utah Western railroad, replacing Black Rock, which was discontinued as a station stop. Garfield Landing was "a short distance beyond" Black Rock. (Salt Lake Herald, September 30, 1880)
October 30, 1880
"Captain Douris evidently expects to do some business next bathing season. He has put the pier formerly at Lake Point at what is now called the Garfield Landing, between Black Rock and H. P. Kimball's house. About fifty bath houses are up. He intends to have 200." (Salt Lake Herald, October 30, 1880)
Union Pacific interests took control of the Utah Western rail line in late 1880 and reorganized it as the Utah & Nevada railroad in April 1881. The railroad took over the Douris' Garfield Landing resort, where he kept his General Garfield lake boat, a short distance to the west from Black Rock. UP later expanded Douris' resort with larger pavilions and more hotel rooms.
March 19, 1881
"It is generally known that Captain Douris, of the steamer Garfield, last season selected a spot near Mr. H. P. Kimball's residence for a pier, and that during the latter portion of the summer, he was busily employed with a force of men driving the piles for the pier, etc. His labors have now assumed substantial shape, in the construction and completion of the fine pier, on either side of which are being constructed rows of bath rooms, with all desirable conveniences for access to the water therefrom. Another exceedingly important consideration for bathers is the depth of water and solidity and smoothness of the bottom - all which are fully attained at the new station. In fact, the point selected by Captain Douris is by far the most eligible and beautiful on the whole shore of the lake. The steamer lies at her her moorings alongside the pier in about nine feet of water, and the beach, for some distance east and west of the pier, is a firm fine sand, with no intermingling of boulders or clay. The Utah Western Railway stops here, instead of Lake Point, as heretofore, for breakfast, the passengers being regaled with a delicious meal - in Mrs. Douris' best style, on board the steamer." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 19, 1881)
June 10, 1881
"Garfield Landing. Looking west from Black Rock the eye rests upon a long pier jutting into the lake, and a short walk of half a mile [from Black Rock] brings us to this new claimant for public patronage. This structure is 400 feet long and twenty-four wide, and boasts 102 bathing houses. The steamer General Garfield is securely moored to the south side. Captain Douris and lady do the honors, and they have no peers for attention to guests and for the constant consideration given for their comfort. The steamer has never yet leaked a drop. She is as tight as a drum, and is a pleasant home for a limited number. The captain has rented the residence of Mr. Heber P. Kimball, near by, which will be used as sleeping apartments for those who cannot be accommodated on the boat. Overlooking the boat and pier is a splendid bowery, with shingle roof, 120 feet long by 40 wide. Those who have not the nerve to bathe may sit here and see the gambols of the cheerful bather. The arrangements for accommodating large parties are ample. The railroad runs close to the bowery, to which you descend by five or six steps. The views from this point are charming. On a clear day the tops of the Goose Creek Mountains, 125 miles distant, may plainly be seen, Antelope and Stansbury's Islands filling up the middle distance as one looks northward to the water-lined horizon. Near by is the famous cave, 300 feet deep. The lake bottom here is unsurpassed, being free from rocks and any depth of water easily attained. The timid or the daring will find room and all the water they want. Captain Douris says he has expended $8,000 in improvements." (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1881)
"This boat was originally to be used as a freighter. It had three decks and was seventy feet long. The redwood from which it was constructed came from California; the engines from Chicago. It was patterned after the Mississippi stern wheel boats. When the railroad came through in 1869 the boat was brought into service to carry passengers and freight to the southeastern shores of Great Salt Lake. The project didn't pay and it was abandoned. For a short time the craft was used as an excursion boat, making short trips from Garfield Beach. When resorts on the beach became popular the old boat was anchored permanently and a bathing resort was built around it." (USHS photo description, Garfield Beach P. 1)
June 10, 1883
"Captain Douris has formally opened Garfield Landing and is now prepared to accommodate guests during the remainder of the season." (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1883)
(There were no online newspaper advertisements for the Garfield Landing resort after the 1883 season.)
The following comes from Union Pacific, The Birth Of A Railroad, by Maury Klein, page 522-523:
One of the company's greatest assets in luring travelers to the road was the country itself. The line passed through scenery of spectacular beauty and gave the public access to regions once as remote as the interior of the Amazon. The Great Salt Lake itself was a popular attraction to tourists, which prompted the Union Pacific to install a modest resort facility at a point called Garfield Beach. It was nothing special—a few bathhouses, a pavilion, and a lunch counter at the nearby depot—but the beach drew well in the summer. Had competition not reared its ugly head, Garfield might have remained a quiet, pleasant oasis in the Utah desert. In 1886, however, the Rio Grande Western decided to build its own resort halfway between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Lake Park boasted the most modern bathhouses and other facilities; what it lacked was a decent beach. To remedy its muddy shore and clay bottom, the Western dumped carloads of sand in hopes of creating an artificial bottom.
Despite this handicap, Lake Park did well its first summer. Palmer invited Adams to join him in developing one grand facility instead of two rival ones. Adams declined the offer and the Great Resort War was on. W. W. Riter, the Utah superintendent, pleaded at once for escalation. The company should build a proper hotel with a pavilion for concerts and dancing, new bathhouses, and some other improvements. "We have an unscrupulous, and I might say dastardly competitor," Riter sputtered. "No trick or lie is too contemptible for their employment." Adams took a less dark view, especially after Riter estimated that the improvements would cost nearly twenty-eight thousand dollars, not including a new hotel. He agreed only to run a new side track to the lake to serve both the resort and the shipment of salt from some manufacturers who had located nearby.
Competition aside, the issue again boiled down to the question of whether the railroad should go into other enterprises. Shortly after becoming president, Adams had leased all the company's hotels and eating houses to the Pacific Hotel Company, owned by two partners named Markel and Swobe, who ran the Millard House in Omaha. In May 1887 he turned the Garfield resort over to them as well. New bathhouses were erected, but construction delays caused the resort to open later than usual. Although the first season was a disaster, it did so well the following year that Holcomb recommended putting in a large new dining room, pipes for fresh water, and a hotel if possible. In 1889 the company went so far as to cancel the contract with Pacific Hotel and resume management of its hotel and eating facilities.
(Charles Adams became president of Union Pacific in June 1884. Union Pacific bought the hotel restaurant facilities back from the Pacific Hotel Company in March 1889, at a reported $300,000.)
March 25, 1887
The plans for the new buildings at the Garfield resort have arrived from Omaha, Union Pacific headquarters, which owns the Utah & Nevada line. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, March 25, 1887)
April 16, 1887
Union Pacific was building a new Garfield Beach resort, 500 feet east of the old Garfield bowery. "The old resort will be abandoned entirely." (Salt Lake Herald, April 16, 1887)
May 11, 1887
The new Union Pacific-owned Garfield resort was located 600 feet east of the old Garfield Landing pier. The following comes from the May 11, 1887 issue of the Salt Lake Evening Democrat newspaper.
Garfield Beach. The New Resort On the South Shore of the Lake. Garfield Beach, which is to be one of the most complete, and well-kept bathing resorts on the Pacific slope, is situated about 600 feet east of the old Garfield landing. No money nor energy is being spared to make the resort one of the most convenient. One of the chief features of the place is the magnificent pavilion (the dimensions of which are 165x65 feet) being built over the water 400 feet from the shore, and approached by a covered pier over 300 feet in length. It has also a tower in the center overlooking the lake on all sides, which will afford a most picturesque view of bathers and the surrounding mountain scenery. A grand concert will be given in the pavilion every afternoon by the most talented artists of Utah. Pedersen's brass band, in connection with Willard Weihe's orchestra, will furnish instrumental music.
The elegant dressing rooms, which are situated near the beach on either side of the pavilion, will each be provided with a stationary washstand, shower bath of fresh water, mirror and every comfort and convenience suggested by long experience. The guests will find polite male and female attendants. Bathing suits of the latest styles will be on hand.
Another feature not to be overlooked is the handsome station building, about 350 feet long and 50 feet wide, which is being built on the latest improved plan. In the center of this building there will also be a high tower, from which on a clear day a good view of mountain ranges 100 miles distant can be had. In one end of this building the restaurant and lunch stand will be located the fare of which will be equal to that of any first class hotel in the West. In the other end of the station building the saloon will he situated. Here some of the spirituous wants of all will be administered by gentlemanly attendants. There are many other features too numerous to mention, but the time will not be long till each and every one will be invited to attend and enjoy them all.
May 16, 1887
A wye track for turning Utah & Nevada trains was built at Garfield Beach, to allow trains to be turned without having to go another 1-3/4 miles to Lake Point. (Salt Lake Evening Democrat, May 16, 1887)
May 18, 1887
"J. E. Markel and Thomas Swobe, proprietors of the Millard Hotel of Omaha, arrived at the Walker House last night. Today they took a trip to Garfield beach, where they intend running the hotel this summer. Mr. Markel is President of the Pacific Hotel Company." (Salt Lake Evening Democrat, May 18, 1887)
June 28, 1887
"Garfield Resort. Near Black Rock. Was opened on June 28, 1887, and was named for the steamer the "General Garfield", which was anchored nearby. The beach was served by the Utah and Nevada Railroad, (later incorporated into the Los Angeles and Salt Lake, and now the Union Pacific RR). The beach had a bowery, shooting gallery, race track, ball grounds and boating facilities, in addition to 300 houses." (USHS photo description, Garfield Beach P. 1)
April 1, 1889
Union Pacific took over the direct management and operation of all restaurants and hotels along its system (including the Garfield resort), previously leased to Pacific Hotel Company. The Garfield resort would be managed directly by the Utah & Nevada railroad. The formal transfer took place on Monday April 1st. (Salt Lake Herald, March 6, 1889; April 3, 1889)
(Newspaper items as late as April 1890 suggest that Pacific Hotel Company continued to operate the cafe and restaurant at Garfield Beach, but under a different type of lease or contract.)
June 8, 1893
Direct competition for the Garfield resort came when the Saltair resort officially opened on June 8, 1893. (Salt Lake Daily Herald, June 8, 1893)
Garfield Beach continued to open to the public for each season, beginning during the second or third week of June each year. The Oregon Short Line railroad continued to advertise trains operating to the resort.
March 22, 1900
W. H. Bancroft, general manager of Oregon Short Line railroad, owner of the Garfield resort, announced on March 22, 1900 that the resort would not open for the 1900 season. The reason given was that the railroad did not possess sufficient narrow gauge equipment to accommodate the resort's patrons. The portion of the railroad between Salt Lake City and Garfield beach would not be converted to standard gauge for at least another year, at which time it would be possible to run the trains. Additional reasons were that the resort had been losing money for several seasons, and that numerous expensive improvements and repairs were needed to the resort's buildings. (Salt Lake Herald, March 23, 1900)
October 16, 1900
"The Oregon Short Line has under consideration again the broadening of the gauge of the Garfield branch but nothing has been decided upon as yet. The matter was brought and seriously considered last spring, but when the Saltair people paid the Short Line $4,500 to keep Garfield Beach closed, the latter dropped all plans for bettering the line and resort." (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 16, 1900)
July 14, 1907
"Garfield Beach was abandoned as a bathing resort about ten years ago (circa 1897), owing to the fact that the waters of Great Salt Lake had receded to such an extent that the buildings were left high and dry upon the shore and far from the beach that afforded satisfactory bathing. This year the waters of the lake have risen in a remarkable degree and the wavelets once more play about the structures at Garfield Beach." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, July 14, 1907)
Portions of the ruins of the Garfield Landing resort, and the UP-owned Garfield Beach resort were removed during the construction of the Western Pacific railroad in the last half of 1906.
Lake Point Resort
(Lake Point was 1-3/4 miles west of Black Rock)
Lake Point was the original site of the Utah Western train station that initially served the lake's south shore resorts. Lake Point was also the original mooring site for the City of Corinne lake boat. The City of Corinne was renamed General Garfield in 1875 when General James A. Garfield visited the area and took a brief voyage on the boat.
Clintons (or Clinton's) was built by Dr. Jeter Fielding Clinton in late 1870 and spring 1871. It was first called "Lake House". The station was also at times called Lake Point, Steamboat Landing, Steamboat Point, Clinton's Landing, and Short Branch. The hotel was a new three-story stone building built in the fall of 1874. On May 14, 1875, an "Old Folks Sociable" was held at Clinton Beach. The excursion was free to aged people, and was the first excursion of 1875. The Overland Stage stopped at Clinton's Hotel. There was a railroad wye track, to turn the trains around, built just southeast of the hotel. By 1885 the receding Great Salt Lake exposed sand bars that doomed the resort. Thirty-five head of buffalo, part of herd of 100 head transplanted from Montana, were moved to the park in December 1890. Clinton moved back to Salt Lake City, where he died in May 1892. His wife sold the property to the Buffalo Park Land Company in September 1892. The Buffalo Park Land Company was promoted by William Glassman and a Mr. Lynch. The company built Old Buffalo Park. The buffalo herd was later moved to Antelope Island. ("History of Tooele County", by Tooele County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1961, pp. 148, 151, 152)
From 1871 to 1872 the City of Corinne lake boat sailed the Great Salt Lake between Corinne and Lake Point, moving goods and ore from the Stockton mines to and from the Central Pacific at Corinne and at Monument Point. Beginning in 1872 the level of the lake dropped and made it impossible for the lake boat to sail up the Bear River to Corinne, and it remained at Lake Point in excursion service.
The following comes from "Our Pioneer Heritage," Volume 14, by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, page 37:
The Lake House - 1870. With the inception of steamboat service, what could be more opportune than building a resort at a convenient point? It was Dr. Jeter Fielding Clinton who seized upon the idea and promoted it. Late in 1870 and spring of 1871, he built his "Lake House," located about one and one-half miles north of E. T. City. A pier was built to the water's edge, bathhouses and other attractions were built and the steamboat anchored here. The resort, the second commercial venture built on the shores of Great Salt Lake (The first was John W. Young's Lakeside resort) was variously called Lake Point, Steamboat Landing, Steamboat Point, Clinton's Landing, and Short Branch. In the fall of 1874, Dr. Clinton replaced the Lake House with a large three-storied stone hotel built on the small hill just above the beach and north of his house. The Deseret News reported "the hotel is elegantly furnished and fitted up for parties."
In early 1871, Jeter Clinton was busy transforming the area adjacent to the Lake Point pier into a resort beach. At first he constructed a temporary building that provided showers and refreshments for tourists. In the fall Clinton replaced the structure with a hotel, which was known as Lake House.
From April 1871 Clinton's Lake Point hotel was one of the major stops for the coaches of the Wines & Kimball Ophir stage line, which provided stagecoach service between Salt Lake City and Stockton, Ophir, Tintic "and points south." (Salt Lake Herald Republican, April 14, 1871)
The Wines & Kimball began their stage and express service on April 21, 1871, and their advertisements ran in the daily newspapers through March 1873. On March 26, 1873 newspapers carried the notice that Len Wines as now the sole operator of the Ophir stages, under the name of the Salt Lake, Ophir and Tintic Express and Stage Line. Wines & Kimball appear to have purchased the stage line from John Eaves, who had operated it as the East Canyon Stage Line until as late as February 1871. Len Wines was also involved in the Enterprise Stage company. The Wines & Kimball partnership was also in the livestock business, with Len Wines traveling throughout the West buying and selling large numbers of animals. The partnership was dissolved on March 23, 1874, and by late September 1874, the stage route between Salt Lake City and Ophir was in the hands of the Western Stage Line. This was likely in response to the Utah Western railroad's construction progressing toward the lake's south shore. By December 19874 the railroad was advertising its connection with the coaches of the Western Stage Line for service to Ophir and Stockton. H. P Kimball was superintendent of the Utah Western until it was taken by Union Pacific in 1881.
From June 1871 the City of Corinne steamer connected with the coaches of the Wines & Kimball Ophir stage line. (Corinne Daily Reporter, April 17, 1871; June 24, 1871)
July 20, 1871
Clinton's Landing is shown as a stop on the Wines & Kimball stage line between Salt Lake City and Ophir and Stockton. The coaches depart daily from the Wells Fargo & Company office in Salt Lake City at 7 a.m., and return to the same location at 4 p.m. (Salt Lake Herald Republican, July 20, 1871)
June 15, 1871
Fox Diefendorf, owner of the City of Corinne lake boat, was building a wharf and piers at Lake Point, which were to be "completed in a few days." (Corinne Daily Journal, June 15, 1871)
June 4, 1872
Clinton's hotel was called 'Lake House'. (Deseret Evening News, June 4, 1872)
January 16, 1873
The first mention "Clinton's hotel" in online newspapers came in a news item about the proposed Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche railroad. (Deseret News, January 16, 1873)
January 5, 1874
"Judge Clinton's faith in the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad has induced him to build a large, three story rock building, at [Great] Salt Lake, with the intention of putting up bathing houses and all the conveniences belonging to a stylish watering place." (Deseret Evening News, January 5, 1874)
June 15, 1874
Utah Western Railway was organized to buy the defunct Salt Lake, Sevier Valley & Pioche Railroad. The SLSV&P had been organized in May 1872 to build west from Salt Lake City to Tooele and south to the mining camps in Nevada. The SL,SV&P began grading west from Salt Lake in April 1873, but before they could get tracks laid, financial and management problems developed which caused the company to fail. The new Utah Western assumed the previous road's debt and acquired its unfinished grade between Salt Lake City and Lake Point, "Point of the Mountain", 20 miles to the west. In return for the reorganization, and control by John W. Young, the officers of the SL, SV&P took stock in the Utah Western. The rails for the SL, SV&P, which had remained on the flatcars in Salt Lake City, were sold for use on the Utah Northern because the freight charges had not been paid. (Reeder, pp. 257-280; Athearn, p. 278; Deseret Evening News, August 31, 1874)
February 7, 1875
Utah Western trains began running to Lake Point, or Clinton's, "today." (Salt Lake Herald, February 7, 1875)
The Lake Point resort was expanded in 1875 when the Utah Western Railway was completed to the spot. Jeter Clinton, a judge in Salt Lake City, had built his hotel at the spot in 1871, as a stop-over on the stage route to Nevada and the Stockton mines south of Tooele, as well as in anticipation of a surge in traffic from the City of Corinne lake boat. He also held an interest in several mines in the Stockton district. (Jeter Clinton died in May 1892.)
February 17, 1875
"The party of ladies and gentlemen, who, on the invitation of the officers of the Utah Western railroad, rode over the line to Clinton's, Lake Point, yesterday, had a very pleasant time." "The road, considering that it is new, is very smooth. The party stopped a short time near Back Rock, and at lake Point, went on board the steamer City of Corinne, which is moored by the building. Clinton's new hotel, a large and somewhat imposing building, was also visited. The Doctor expects to have it finished and ready for guests in about one month." (Deseret News, February 17, 1875)
March 8, 1875
A ball was held at the newly completed Lake Point House hotel, along with a ride on the Utah Western railroad. The ball room could accommodate 150 people. Dr. Clinton was shown as the proprietor of Lake Point House. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 1875; Deseret News, March 3, 1875)
July 14, 1875
"Alighting at Lake Point the company repaired to the Clinton House, where the genial Doc. was waiting to receive them. We were surprised to see so fine a hotel at this out of the way place. It is a substantial stone structure, 55x80 feet, three stories high, and surrounded with three porches, from either of which a magnificent view of the lake and its islands can be obtained. The house contains forty rooms, and a fine dining hall, 26x36 feet, said to be the best in the Territory." (Daily Ogden Junction, July 14, 1875)
(The last mention in online newspapers of Clinton's as a destination was in mid August 1875. Research suggests that Jeter Clinton may have sold the establishment in mid or late 1875, with the new buyer re-opening as the Lake Point Hotel.)
September 22, 1875
"A Change. A change has occurred in the proprietor of the Clinton or Lake Point House. Mrs. H. L. Southworth is the new hostess of that hotel." (Deseret News, September 22, 1875)
April 26, 1876
The Lake Point Hotel was advertised as the destination throughout the 1876 season as part of a Wednesdays and Sundays only excursion on the Utah Western railroad. The excursion included a trip on the lake on board the General Garfield lake boat and supper at the hotel, with a return to Salt Lake City at 7 p.m. The excursions began on May 1st. (Deseret News, April 26, 1876)
May 2, 1876
"Colonel H. S. Beattie, who has leased the hotel for the season, has re-christened the establishment, calling it Short Branch, by which name it will hereafter be known. The spring opening of the house also occurred yesterday." (Salt Lake Herald, May 2, 1876)
May 6, 1876
"Short Branch House. The Short Branch House at Lake Point, is now opened, and affords all passengers over Utah Western Railway an opportunity to get dinner or breakfast at seasonable hours. At 8.30 in the morning the west bound train stops long enough at Lake Point to allow passengers to breakfast, and similar accommodation is afforded those coming into town. The accommodations for pleasure parties are also first-class, and companies who may seek recreation on the shores of our inland sea, will find Col. Beatie ever ready to show his guests that attention which tends to make a visit to Lake Point pleasurable." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 6, 1876)
May 25, 1876
The "Short Branch hotel" was to be the destination of a large company on Decoration Day, to ride the General Garfield steamer. The hotel "will cater to the appetites of the guests." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 6, 1876)
Throughout the 1876 season, the advertisements specifically use the name Short Branch House as the name of the hotel. The last advertisement was on October 3, 1876. No further references found in online newspapers.
July 1, 1877
The Lake Point Hotel was advertised during the 1877 season as being under the management of a Dr. Munroe. "This house is pleasantly located on the shores of Great Salt Lake, where there is always a cool and refreshing breeze, more health-giving and desirable that that of any ocean watering place in the world. The bathing is also unsurpassed, and a bath in the waters of the great inland sea should not be missed." A separate advertisement: "Lake Point Hotel. This hotel has been refitted in the best style for the accommodation of guests seeking a cool and refreshing resort from the heat of the summer months..." "Large and Airy Porches. All around the hotel, from which may be had beautiful views of Great Salt Lake and the surrounding mountains in the immediate vicinity." "Rowing and Sailing Boats. Are moored at the wharf for those who delight in this kind of sport." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 1, 1877)
(In April 1878, after failing to make payments on its debt, the ownership, management and operation of the Utah Western railroad was handed over to the railroad's bondholders. In late 1880 it was reorganized as the Utah & Nevada, and was fully controlled by Union Pacific.)
May 26, 1878
The Lake Point Hotel was shown in an advertisement as the destination of a Decoration Day excursion on the Utah Western railroad, on Thursday May 30th. The hotel was shown as being under the management of Morrill & Hayward. Utah Western was also to be operating regular Sunday excursion trains to Lake Point. A special Utah Western excursion train and "Closing Ball" was held on Friday September 27th to mark the season's closing of the hotel and resort. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 26, 1878; September 22, 1878)
(During the 1878 season, the railroad advertised special Sunday bathing trains, with either Kimball's or Lake Point as the destination. Kimball's would later be the site of the Garfield Landing resort. In this case, "Kimball's" may also refer to the stone house at Black Rock, which has been reported as having been built by Heber C. Kimball.)
April 30, 1879
"The Lake Point House changed hands yesterday, and is now under the management of Mr. G. A. Emery, who will put it in excellent repair for the bathing season. Those who go on the excursion tomorrow will find accommodations at this house. Mr. Emery has not had time to fully prepare for a big rush, but will do his best to make his patrons as comfortable as possible under the circumstances." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 1879)
April 16, 1881
"Lake Point Hotel. One of the most attractive pleasure resorts this coming season will undoubtedly be the Lake Point House, which has lately come under the management of Mrs. H. L. Southworth, a lady well known to possess the ability of running a first-class resort of this kind." "Mrs. Southworth is making extensive arrangements for opening on the 1st of May with a grand excursion and ball." (Salt Lake Herald, April 16, 1881)
(This reference in April 1881 is the last in online newspapers for any hotel using the name Lake Point House, or any other formal name for a hotel at Lake Point.)
June 10, 1881
"Lake Point. About a mile and a quarter further west [of Garfield Landing] the famous Lake Point is reached. The commanding hotel, the largest and finest on the shore of the lake, looms up. The steamer Garfield used to be moored here, and the first wharf ever built of any size on the lake was erected here. This was the proposed point for shipping ores to the projected rival to Salt Lake, Corinne. All these projects have fallen to the ground, but the lake still remains, and Corinne has taken a back seat in the rival business. This hotel has passed through the varied experience of initial efforts. It has been run by all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. It has roomy verandas on each story, has a nice dancing hall and large parlors; is well laid out for accommodating large assemblies. It is now being run by Mrs. H. L. Southworth and her sons and daughters. They are diligently improving and adding to the conveniences of guests daily. The views from each side of the hotel are panoramic and beautiful. Shade in the hottest weather is always attainable. The table is supplied with all the necessary delicacies, and the price is as low as is consistent with real comfort. The terms are the same here to permanent boarders as at the other place - $2 per day, $10 per week. The daily papers are kept. The bathing facilities are good, a fine sandy bottom nicely graded is close to the house. Ladies, children and the most timid will find every facility to enjoy the delights of a plunge. Large companies can be accommodated. A fine bowery and swings for juveniles are among the attractions. There is room for seventy-five regular boarders. There are seventy-one bath houses." (Salt Lake Herald, June 10, 1881)
June 14, 1885
"An Awakening. The trip of Charles Francis Adams [Union Pacific president] has borne fruit. Superintendent Riter has received authority to put the old Clinton Hotel in immediate shape for accommodating guests, and erect 100 new bathhouses at that point. This will give three resorts along the Utah & Nevada instead of two." (Salt Lake Herald, June 14, 1885)
(The other two resorts would have been Black Rock and Garfield Landing. Union Pacific's own Garfield Beach Resort did not open until June 1887.)
June 20, 1885
"Black Rock will not be opened to the bathing public this year. It is expected that the reopening of the old Clinton Hotel at Lake Point will occur on July 4th." (Salt Lake Herald, June 20, 1885)
August 6, 1889
The former Clinton farm had been purchased by Lynch & Glassman "some time ago." A free-flowing artesian well had been successfully prospected and struck. (Salt Lake Herald, August 6, 1889)
March 9, 1890
The real estate surrounding the old Lake Point Hotel was owned by "Lynch & Glassman," who installed 100 head of buffalo to create the Utah Buffalo and Zoological Garden. "This summer resort is located one mile west of Garfield Beach, on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, and is the same tract of land known as the Clinton farm, or the original Lake Point Bathing Resort, on the line of U. P. Railway." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 1890, full page advertisement; Deseret Evening News, August 7, 1890)
July 4, 1891
"The old Clinton Hotel at Lake Point, at one time the summer hotel of Union Pacific railway at that bathing resort, is to be torn down." (Salt Lake Herald, July 4, 1891)
January 18, 1893
The entire herd of buffalo at Glassman's Buffalo Park, consisting of four bulls and eight cows, were purchased by J. E. Dooly and moved to his property on Antelope Island. Dooly was president of a company called Antelope Island Improvement Company. During early February the buffalo were herded from the Glassman property at Lake Point into Salt Lake City, then herded from Salt Lake City to the island. Dooly's company's intention was to make Antelope Island a game preserve and sportsman's paradise with a wide variety of wild animals and birds, including buffalo, elk, mountain sheep, quail, and geese. (Salt Lake Herald, January 18, 1893; Ogden Standard, February 13, 1893)
March 1, 1893
The old three-story Lake Point Hotel was being torn down. It had been a popular destination up until about seven or eight years ago (about 1885-1886), but the water had receded so that it was a quarter mile away from the hotel. The hotel was owned by the Union Pacific railroad. (Salt Lake Herald, March 1, 1893)
June 30, 1893
"Probably no building ever stood for a more forlorn hope than the hotel at Buffalo Park. It was built by Dr. Clinton and was by far the most pretentious building on the lake. But the next season the water receded. The hotel had little or no patronage and the doctor failed in consequence." (Salt Lake Herald, June 30, 1893)
March 3, 1909
"Still a little later a few, and a very few of the party, called attention to the spot on which stood one of the earliest bathing resorts on the lake, a resort that passed into history over twenty-five years ago, Lake Point; a part of the old rock hotel still stands, but that is all that remains of a once famous resort." (Salt Lake Telegram, March 3, 1909)
Salt Lake County built a public boat harbor on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, about a mile to the east of Black Rock. The harbor was first built as a Works Progress Administration project in early and mid 1926, and greatly expanded and improved in 1936-1937 by the county and the federal Works Progress Administration as a joint project using federal funds. The improved access road, larger breakwater and dredging of the harbor were completed in June 1936, and the pier and club house were completed during early 1937. The harbor was opened to the public for the first time for the 1937 season. By July 1937, the WPA had spent $118,000 on the project, but actual formal completion had not yet approved by the county.
The Great Salt Lake Yacht Club had been incorporated in 1932, and was given a contract in early 1937 to manage the county boat harbor.
By the mid 1930s, with the completion of U. S. 40 giving direct access to the south shore resorts, competition came for the railroad-owned Saltair resort 4.5 miles east of Black Rock. Families and other visitors were able to drive directly to Black Rock Beach and the adjacent Sunset Beach and for a minimal fee, gain access to large open beaches. Black Rock Beach as a resort first opened on a small scale in 1931, and was incorporated as a company and expanded for the 1932 season. The owners were the Griffiths family of Lake Point, and C. J. Ketchum and Ira Dern of Salt Lake City. Sunset Beach, about 2,000 feet to the east, was opened by Ada Dern (Ira Dern's wife) and Earl Thompson in 1933. Both provided fresh water showers for bathers to rinse off the salt residue from swimming in the lake, along with food and refreshments. No lodging was provided by either resort.
From the 1930s and well into the early 1960s, the two resorts became well known for allowing visitors to drive directly to the water's edge and set up their picnics.
Both resorts were located on land owned by the State of Utah and operated under leases given by the state. The lease for Sunset Beach in 1933 was for a shore line of 6000 feet eastward from the Salt Lake-Tooele county line [at Black Rock] for a period of 12 years, at $150 per year. An interesting side note from April 1932 was that the local chamber of commerce attempted to pay the state the matching lease fees to close the two new resorts and to prevent competition to the much larger Saltair resort. (Deseret News, April 11, 1932)
(These leases of state-owned lands stemmed from a landmark case concerning either federal ownership, or state ownership of lands exposed within a previously surveyed "meander line." In this case, decided by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1931, the State of Utah was allowed to claim ownership of all shore lands of the Great Salt Lake that were below the meander line, at 4,205 feet elevation, first established by an initial survey in 1855 by the U. S. Geologic Survey, and confirmed in 1896 when Utah became a state.)
November 5, 1933
The following comes from the November 5, 1933 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
New Beach Delight. As you drive along, just as you come to the new viaduct, turn off to the right, drive out on the sand to the lake shore. Take in Sunset Beach, the new bathing beach where thousands bathed last year, a beach with an inland ocean adjacent, possibly the forerunner of the first municipal beach on the shores of Great Salt Lake.
Get in your car now, and drive back and over the viaduct. Continue west past Black Rock, then drive slowly looking along the Western Pacific tracks. About 500 feet west of Black Rock, with the railroad tracks built right through it and over it, you can see the hull of the old steamer, the City of Garfield, that plied up and down the lake over 50 years ago.
This large steamboat used to haul ore from about this point up across the lake and up Bear river to the city of Corinne, the nearest railroad point then to the lake. With the coming of the railroads in this valley, that boat outlived its usefulness and was abandoned.
In June 1935, the "original" Black Rock Beach resort re-opened after a fire in 1934 destroyed the concession stands. The new buildings and improvements included flood lights for night bathing, and a lighted stairway and railings to the top of Black Rock itself. (Salt Lake Telegram, June 28, 1935)
The on-going rivalry between the owners of Black Rock Beach, and the owners of Sunset Beach continued from 1934 through 1939. By May 1942, Sunset Beach was owned by the Derns, and Black Rock Beach was owned by James Latses. The Dern lease expired in late 1944, and the Latses lease expired in mid 1945, and in mid 1944 both owners were objecting to a state park that was being proposed for the south shore area.
By the late 1950s and into the early 1960s, the two resorts competed for the business of visitors who came to the south shore by automobile. The Silver Sands resort was sold to John Silver and his sons in 1964, but the receding lake level of the early and mid 1960s essentially ended to business of swimming in Great Salt Lake due to the increasing distance from the access road to the water itself. In May 1975, the State of Utah bought out the remaining leases to the state-owned lands occupied by the two resorts, comprising four miles of lake-front beaches.
The interest of state ownership and development of the south shore became a focus after a decision in February 1975 by the U. S. Supreme Court that gave the state clear title to 360,000 acres that surrounded the lake below the 1855 meander line. The four miles of beaches along the south shore included the area around the former Saltair resort, which the state had already owned since 1959. After 1975, the Silver Sands resort remained to provide concessions to visitors, but the former Black Rock resort was open to all visitors. The four-mile stretch of beaches was orgainized by the state as the Great Salt Lake South Shore State Park, and was in full operation by August 1975. The new state park included the former Silver Sands marina adjacent to the former Black Rock resort.
John Silver continued his interest in a south shore resort, and along with a group of investors, in March 1981 organized a new company by the name Saltair Resort, Inc., to build a facsimile of the famous resort. The plan was to expand Silver's already existing concession for the state park, with the expansion gaining approval at a March 25th meeting of the Utah State Board of Parks and Recreation. The new resort was to include space for large concerts, as well as a water slide. Plans were announced in late April that the resort would be built at the north end of the I-80 Exit 104, the connection of I-80 with the west end of 2100 South, along the western edge of the Kennecott tailings pond. The resort building itself was to be in a large building moved from Hill Air Force Base, and erected on the site. The building, known as Building 218, was built in 1943 as part of the original World War II era Hill Field. The building had been declared surplus for USAF purposes in July 1979, and covered a total of about 43,600 square feet.
Formal construction began in October 1981 and the new resort opened in August 1982, with newspaper ads beginning to appear in mid September. After making additional improvements to address the rising lake waters, a grand opening was held on May 13, 1983. The lake waters continued to rise, and the resort was forced to build dikes around the building to keep the water away from the finished resort. Water soon began encroaching during early 1984, ruining many of the improvements, with storm waves causing much physical damage. Five separate storms in April and May 1984 caused damages in the range of $750,000, including complete flooding of the pavilion itself. Finally, on May 17th, John Silver (then 74 years old), gave up and the new Saltair Resort company declared bankruptcy to protect the company from its creditors. In May 1985, they applied for federal assistance, under its federal flood insurance policy, making note of damages caused in 1983 and 1984 by natural causes, but the claim was denied. Newspaper stories during 1986 referred to the site as the submerged Saltair resort.
The flood waters receded within a few years, but the site remained in desolation for another 15 years, when new owners bought the building and renovated it as a venue for public events, including rock concerts and other live music events, under the name of "Great Saltair."