Antelope Island History
Chronology of Antelope Island
Prehistory: Native American habitation of the Island. Fremont people lived 500-2000 years ago. We have found their camps on the island. By the early 1600s Spanish explores came across the Ute people in the Great Basin area. The Ute people frequented the island until the late1840s.
1843: John C. Fremont mapped the topography of Great Salt Lake and its islands.
1845: Fremont returns to Utah, naming Antelope Island for the meat they acquired there.
1847: First Mormon pioneers arrive in the Salt Lake Valley.
1848: First Mention Of Daddy Stump living on the island. Stump is not mentioned by Fremont during his expeditions to the island.
1848: In the fall Lot Smith, Heber P. Kimball and Fielding Garr bring the church’s cattle to the island with the help of Daddy Stump.
1848-49: Fielding Garr builds the ranch house.
1849: Formation of the Perpetual Emigration Fund formed on September 9th, with Fielding Garr as foreman of the tithing herd.
1849-50: Capt. Howard Stansbury conducts surveys and explorations of the Great Salt Lake and its islands.
1854: Brigham Young builds the boat, the Timely Gull because rising water levels made wagon access to the island impossible.
1854: Grasshoppers deplete the island of feed. The cattle were taken to Cache Valley.
1855: Fielding Garr dies on June 15th and is replaced by Briant Stringham.
1856: Daddy Stump believed killed by Indians in Cache Valley during the winter.
1856: The LDS Church transports several hundred head of horses to the island for breeding purposes.
1864: William Ashby is put in charge of the church’s cattle herd on the island.
1867: Ebenezer Farnes is put in charge of the ranch.
1871: Bryant Stringham Dies on August 4th.
1872: Christopher Layton is awarded a five-year contract to manage the church sheep herd on the island.
1874: Slate Mining on the island.
Deseret News August 12, 1874. An inexhaustible body of slate, unsurpassed in fineness of texture and richness of color, has been recently examined and thoroughly tested by Mr. Dunn, of Salt Lake City, and Gen. W.W. Lowe and Mr. H.H. Vischer of this city, assisted by experts and experienced slate workers from the old country and is pronounced equal if not superior, in purity, strength, and colors to any in the world.
1875: LDS Church lost interest in the island because of homesteading and patents to the Union Pacific Railroad requiring every odd section of land.
1878: Garr ranch is deeded to John Layton by the United States. Layton deeds it to Davis County Co-op on December 24th.
1880: Davis County Co-op sells its section to Adam Patterson.
1880: Union Pacific, the agents for the homesteading on the island sells island grants to Robert Harkness.
1884: Robert Harkness sections are foreclosed on by John Dooly of Wells Fargo who in turn sells them to Fredrick Meyers who becomes Dooly’s partner. On June 4th they organize the Island Improvement Company.
1885: Meyers sells his interest to John White and Son’s Company, which leases the Dooly land at the same time.
1885-1903: William Walker ranch foreman.
1891: George Frary established a homestead four miles north of the ranch house.
1893: 12 bison purchased on January 7th from William Glasmann by White and Dooly and brought to the island by Frary and Walker in February.
1893: Four Mountain Sheep, a number of deer, and Chinese and English pheasants were brought to the island on March 1st.
1894: Ten elk brought to the island. These elk were later killed by vandals.
1897: Alice Frary dies and is buried near the Frary homestead.
1899: Mining on the island.
Davis County Clipper March 17, 1899. Of late considerable prospecting has been done on the west side of the first island (Church or Antelope) west of here, and since Prospector Leeche was killed over there still more interest has been aroused in mining in that locality.
Salt Lake Mining Review April 15, 1899. The Antelope Gold and Copper Mining company filed its articles of incorporation on Friday of last week, the capitalization of the association being placed at $20,000 divided into shares of a par value of five cents each. The officers and directors of the company, as named, are Alma Tanner, president; John Haston, vice-president; Joseph W. lee, Treasurer; George E. Cox, secretary, and George H. Knowlden.
Davis County Clipper May 19, 1899. George Payne, George Frary, “Bid” Young, A.E. Hyde, and Albert Richter incorporated their mining property over on Antelope Island last Friday. They own a number of Valuable claims, some of them right down to the water’s edge, in fact, the ore cars can be dumped into the boat.
Davis County Clipper May 26, 1899. George H. Payne came over from Antelope Island Monday evening. He estimates that there are about fifty men over there working at the mines. Mr. Vahrenkamp is going to put up a large boarding house on the island in the near future; he spoke to Messrs. Frary and Payne about boating 10,000 feet of lumber to build the same.
Salt Lake Mining Review June 30, 1899. Claim Holders on Antelope Island have filed a protest in the local U.S. land office against the issuance of patents to certain portions of the island as agricultural land, as they claim the ground is more valuable for minerals than for raising corn, wheat, Lucerne, or potatoes. With the magnificent showing of copper ore in the holdings of the mineral claimants, it looks as if it would be an outrage on the part of the government to bar them out and to give this barren section to individuals who merely want the island as a grazing place for their cattle.
1903: Ernest Bamberger, son-in-law to Dooly buys John White’s shares of the company and becomes co-owner of the Island Improvement Company.
1904: Oil wells on the island.
Ogden Standard Examiner February 11, 1904. Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake may be the location of some large gas and oil wells in the near future. A derrick is to be set up over there within the next few weeks. It was learned from an authentic source and the drills started on their journey to the deep. The work is to be done by the Fountain Oil & Asphalt Company, recently incorporated, which has acquired by lease and otherwise something over 6000 acres on the north end of the island.
Davis County Clipper April 8, 1904. The Fountain Oil & Gas Co. has three rigs ordered and contracted for delivery not later than May 1st. One is to be set up near Farmington, another on Antelope Island, and the third on the west side of the Great Salt Lake. It is expected that in a few weeks there will be six rigs in operation in this vicinity.
Davis County Clipper April 22, 1904. Frank H. Rudy has located all the oil land on the east shore of Antelope Island from the south to the extreme north end of the same. He controls about 43,000 acres. He has contracted with an eastern firm to give them four sections of land, retaining a tenth interest if they strike oil. The company is to go down 2000 feet or forfeit a $5,000 bond.
1911: 100 buffalo on the island comprise one of the largest herds in the U.S.
1915: John Dooly Jr. takes over the company bringing sheep to the island
1922: Scenes from the movie The Covered Wagon using the buffalo herd were filmed at what is now called Camera Flats.
1938-42: J.B. Harward moves to the ranch as foreman.
1941: Island Improvement Company trades its land in Rush Valley for the Bureau of Land management land on Antelope Island. The BLM owned every other section of the island prior to this trade. This transaction gives the Dooly’s control of all but a few small parcels of the island.
1942: William H. Olwell appointed manager of the Island Improvement Co.
1951: The Island Improvement Company land in Skull Valley is taken by the Federal Government for Dugway Proving Grounds. As a result, the company sells its sheep and stocks the island with cattle and builds the southern causeway.
1955: Island Improvement Company becomes the Island Ranching Company.
1967: The Road to Nowhere is started.
Geology of Antelope Island Davis County, Utah pg. 131. In 1967, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) investigated two potential sources of sand and gravel on the northern part of the island for the use of the construction of the causeway from Syracuse to Antelope Island. Material from this deposit, at least until 1969, was used as fill on the causeway
1969: State of Utah buys 2,000 acres on the north end of the island and creates a state park.
1969: North causeway from Syracuse finished.
1972: The Island Ranching Company sells to Anschutz Corporation.
1979: Island conveyor belt built.
Geology of Antelope Island Davis County, Utah pg. 134. In 1979 and 1980 about 16 million cubic yards of material were excavated from this part of the island for interstate highway construction. The excavation essentially removed the top 10 to 15 feet of surficial deposits. The material was loaded onto a 13 -mile-long conveyor belt and carried southeasterly to a stockpile and loading facility near 5600 West and the I-80 route west of Salt Lake City. At the time, this conveyer belt system was the longest ever built in the world. The excavated areas were graded, contoured, and revegetated.
1981: State of Utah purchases the Southern 26,000 acres of the island.
1983: Rising lake waters flood causeway, park closes.
1987: Lake reaches its highest point of 4,211.85’ above sea level. Due to flooding problems, massive pumps operated pumping water into the west desert. First bison round-up.
1992: Northern causeway is rebuilt.
1993: Antelope Island State Park opens to the public. Pronghorn reintroduced to the island.
1997: 23 Bighorn sheep reintroduced to the island.
2000: Fielding Garr Ranch reopens to the public.
2003: 99 Pronghorn antelope reintroduced to the island to increase herd size.