The Bonneville Salt Flats
Imagine a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of theplanet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist.Imagine the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on avast dazzling white plain. This is not an alien world far from earth; it is Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique naturalfeatures in Utah. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the Bonneville SaltFlats is a fragile resource. It is located along I-80 near theUtah-Nevada border. Wendover is the closest city. Thousands ofvisitors, commercial filmmakers, and of course, high speed autoracers, make the Bonneville Salt Flats a world famousdestination.
Racing For Speed
The Salt Flats are perhaps most famous for their use as theBonneville Speedway for high-speed race cars which have achievedspeeds in excess of 600 miles per hour (1000 km/h).
The Salt Flats' potential for racing was first recognized in 1896by W.D. Rishel who was scouting a bicycle race course from New Yorkto San Francisco. Rishel returned and convinced daredevil TeddyTezlaff to attempt an automobile speed record on the flats. Tezlaffdrove a Blitzen Benz 141.73 m.p.h. to set an unofficial record in1914.
The salt flats drew international attention in the 1930's when Utahdriver Ab Jenkins lured British racer Sir Malcolm Campbell tocompete for speed records on the salt surface. By 1949, the racewayon the Bonneville Salt Flats was the standard course for world landspeed records. On this natural straightaway the 300, 400, 500, and600 mile per hour land speed barriers were broken.
In the 1960's, jet powered vehicles and names like Craig Breedlove(600.6 mph) and Art Arfons (576.55 mph) captured the imagination ofmillions. In 1970, Gary Gabolich's rocket car, "Blue Flame",attained a spectacular 622.4 miles per hour. Since the first speedrecord attempts in 1914, hundreds of records have been set andbroken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes.Typically, speed trials are scheduled throughout the summer andfall at the Bonneville Raceway. Most events are open to the public.The annual Speed Week is usually held in mid-August.
A Barrier of Salt
Ancient Lake Bonneville
Humans have lived in the Great Basin for thousands of years.Excavations at nearby Danger Cave have proven occupation of thearea as early as 10,300 years ago. While Native Americans adaptedto the desert environment, more recent arrivals found the area lesshospitable.
By 1824, Jim Bridger and other mountain men explored the Great SaltLake desert region. The first recorded crossing of the desert wasmade in 1845 by Captain John C. Fremont's survey party, with scoutsKit Carson and Joe Walker. Early the next year, 23 year oldLansford Hastings retraced Fremont's trail across the salt plain.Joe Walker's writings warned emigrants not to attempt the untriedroute; however, Hastings convinced several emigrant parties tofollow him. Despite Walker's warnings, the Donner-Reed party,seeking a shortcut to California in 1846, attempted the "HastingsCutoff". They failed to take enough water and lost a criticalnumber of oxen. Four of their wagons were abandoned just 10 milesnortheast of the salt flats. Time was lost, and the delay resultedin their late arrival to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and theirtragic winter. Later, in 1910, the first permanent crossing of theBonneville Salt Flats was completed when the Southern PacificRailroad was built linking Salt Lake City and San Francisco.
Although he never visited the salt flats, the area is named inhonor of a gentleman whose expeditions in the 1830's proved thearea was part of an ancient basin.
During the last Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago, Lake Bonnevillewas the size of Lake Michigan. It covered one-third of present dayUtah and parts of neighboring states. You can see traces of theshorelines, representing different levels of the receding lake,etched into the mountains surrounding the salt flats.
The Bonneville Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake are remnants ofancient Lake Bonneville. Wind and water combine to create the flatsurface of salt. Each winter, a shallow layer of standing waterfloods the surface of the salt flats. During spring and summer, thewater slowly evaporates while winds smooth the surface into a vast,nearly perfect flat plain. The salt surface contains potassium,magnesium lithium and sodium chloride (common table salt).
Several movies have been filmed at the Salt Flats, includingportions of Independence Day, The Worlds Fastest Indian, andPirates of the Caribbean: at Worlds End.
Information provided courtesy ofwww.utah.com
To get credit and claim a “Find” for this Cache you mustpost a picture of yourself/s at the Bonneville Salt Flats sign atthe posted coordinates (not the sign pictured) and answer any threequestions from the list below. There is very little information onthe sign so Internet research may be required. Also, let us knowhow many people were in your party. Please do not include youranswers on the Cache page.
#1: Tell us what the depth of the salt in many areas of theBonneville Salt Flats has been recorded at (How many feet ormeters)?
#2: Tell us the Date, Driver, Car Name and Speed of 5 past orpresent Land Speed Record holders on the Bonneville SaltFlats.
#3: Tell us how the Bonneville Salt Flats were formed and why thereis so much salt here.
#4: Tell us who the Bonneville Salt Flats and Lake Bonneville wasnamed after? What year were they born, what year did they die, andwhat was their occupation?