Antelope Island State Park | TheFencePost.com

Antelope Island State Park

Margaret Melloy Guziak

Where the deer and the antelope … and the buffalo play, that’s Antelope Island State Park, outside Syracuse, Utah, 25 miles north of Salt Lake City. Like Colorado, Utah, our sister state, contains some of the most fantastic places to visit and enjoy year round. Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, is one of them because of its natural beauty and its historical significance in American history. When you enter the state park and pay your admission fee, they will give you a map of the entire island, before you begin your 7.2 causeway drive out to the island.

When you get there, stop at the visitors’ center/museum on the island to pick up additional materials, books and maps, see the exhibits, and have any questions answered by the staff about this unique place. This was our second visit to the island, so we had seen the expansive beach, boating and picnic areas previously. This time we wanted to focus on the historic ranch with its 40 springs, the Fielding Garr Ranch.

While on the island, on your “must do” list, is a self-guided tour of the Fielding Garr Ranch, located at Garr Springs. When we drove there on an early July morning, there was a cool breeze blowing off the lake and no cars in either direction along the paved road. Separate flocks of seagulls and water birds could be seen floating along the water’s edge. Other birds joined them, silently gliding over our car down to the tempting, salty shrimp laden brine waiting along the shoreline. Looking across the calm water, you could see the skyline of the outskirts of Salt Lake City, with the light purple mountains in the background. It was “purple mountain majesty” and one felt privileged to be there.

A few miles further, a single coyote, with his head down, crossed the road yards ahead of our car, disappearing into the brush on his lonely trek down to the blue water. Watch for wildlife and have your camera ready. Mine is usually on my lap, just as it was on our return trip when we spotted a lone antelope in the dense lower brush near the road.

There is plenty of parking room in the lot above the Garr ranch. Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to show you around the inside of the barn and its adjacent giant silo, the ranch house across the driveway area, and offer you an explanatory brochure of the ranch and its operations. There are wooden benches, dedicated to “the Dooly family” scattered on the grounds and on the front porch of the house where you can rest, or simply stop to inhale the scenery and the peacefulness of this once busy place.

Fielding Garr was one of the early Mormon pioneers who, driven out of Illinois, traveled with others in 73 wagons in a wagon train. Others had to walk while they pushed or pulled handcarts, loaded with their possessions, to Utah Territory, their “promised land.” Born in Madison County, Va., on August 19, 1794, he married Pauline Turner; she died in 1844. A widower, he brought seven of his 10 children with him in the mass exodus to the west. Fielding was a stone mason, a farmer and a rancher. He was known for his leadership abilities and was a close friend of Brigham Young.

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Brigham, who has been called the “Moses of America,” and his fellow church members, arrived in 1847 in the land near the Great Salt Lake. Recognizing Garr’s leadership traits, he assigned him the job of establishing a ranch on the island to manage the church’s tithing herds. In 1848, he’d built a log cabin, and within two years built an adobe ranch house and stone corrals. It is the oldest Anglo-built structure in Utah that rests on its original foundation. Operated to support the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which provided funds to Mormons coming from Europe to settle in Utah, it was a success. They were expected to repay the money, which they did, so that others could come.

In 1870, John Dooly Sr., an Irishman and an agent with Wells Fargo of San Francisco, purchased the land from Brigham Young for a million dollars, establishing the “Island Improvement Company.” Their brand was a capital “I” and “C” together and you will see it on various items throughout the farm. He was one of the few non-Mormon men with whom Brigham Young conducted business. Dooly purchased 12 bison for the ranch and established a commercial hunting opportunity. They say that world champion boxer, Jack Dempsey, hunted there.

His son, John Dooly Jr., introduced sheep to the island, expanding to more than 10,000 sheep, making it one of the largest ranching operations in the west. When the demand for wool stopped in the ’50s, because of the introduction of synthetic fibers, they switched over to raising cattle. Prior to completion of the causeway, the animals had to be ferried back and forth to the mainland. It was operated as a ranch from 1848-1981. In 1981, Antelope Island became a state park, opening the site to the world’s visitors.

Antelope Island consists of 28,571 acres, measures 7-miles across at its widest point and is 15-miles long. The causeway leading out to the island is 7.2-miles across. Brochures state that the water is five times saltier than ocean water. There are no fish in the Great Salt Lake. These are all facts obtained from their brochures and other reference sites. But what you can’t put in a brochure is the beauty, the serenity, the good feelings and the welcomes afforded you on your visit to one of the best state parks in the west: Antelope Island State Park.

Where the deer and the antelope … and the buffalo play, that’s Antelope Island State Park, outside Syracuse, Utah, 25 miles north of Salt Lake City. Like Colorado, Utah, our sister state, contains some of the most fantastic places to visit and enjoy year round. Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, is one of them because of its natural beauty and its historical significance in American history. When you enter the state park and pay your admission fee, they will give you a map of the entire island, before you begin your 7.2 causeway drive out to the island.

When you get there, stop at the visitors’ center/museum on the island to pick up additional materials, books and maps, see the exhibits, and have any questions answered by the staff about this unique place. This was our second visit to the island, so we had seen the expansive beach, boating and picnic areas previously. This time we wanted to focus on the historic ranch with its 40 springs, the Fielding Garr Ranch.

While on the island, on your “must do” list, is a self-guided tour of the Fielding Garr Ranch, located at Garr Springs. When we drove there on an early July morning, there was a cool breeze blowing off the lake and no cars in either direction along the paved road. Separate flocks of seagulls and water birds could be seen floating along the water’s edge. Other birds joined them, silently gliding over our car down to the tempting, salty shrimp laden brine waiting along the shoreline. Looking across the calm water, you could see the skyline of the outskirts of Salt Lake City, with the light purple mountains in the background. It was “purple mountain majesty” and one felt privileged to be there.

A few miles further, a single coyote, with his head down, crossed the road yards ahead of our car, disappearing into the brush on his lonely trek down to the blue water. Watch for wildlife and have your camera ready. Mine is usually on my lap, just as it was on our return trip when we spotted a lone antelope in the dense lower brush near the road.

There is plenty of parking room in the lot above the Garr ranch. Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to show you around the inside of the barn and its adjacent giant silo, the ranch house across the driveway area, and offer you an explanatory brochure of the ranch and its operations. There are wooden benches, dedicated to “the Dooly family” scattered on the grounds and on the front porch of the house where you can rest, or simply stop to inhale the scenery and the peacefulness of this once busy place.

Fielding Garr was one of the early Mormon pioneers who, driven out of Illinois, traveled with others in 73 wagons in a wagon train. Others had to walk while they pushed or pulled handcarts, loaded with their possessions, to Utah Territory, their “promised land.” Born in Madison County, Va., on August 19, 1794, he married Pauline Turner; she died in 1844. A widower, he brought seven of his 10 children with him in the mass exodus to the west. Fielding was a stone mason, a farmer and a rancher. He was known for his leadership abilities and was a close friend of Brigham Young.

Brigham, who has been called the “Moses of America,” and his fellow church members, arrived in 1847 in the land near the Great Salt Lake. Recognizing Garr’s leadership traits, he assigned him the job of establishing a ranch on the island to manage the church’s tithing herds. In 1848, he’d built a log cabin, and within two years built an adobe ranch house and stone corrals. It is the oldest Anglo-built structure in Utah that rests on its original foundation. Operated to support the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which provided funds to Mormons coming from Europe to settle in Utah, it was a success. They were expected to repay the money, which they did, so that others could come.

In 1870, John Dooly Sr., an Irishman and an agent with Wells Fargo of San Francisco, purchased the land from Brigham Young for a million dollars, establishing the “Island Improvement Company.” Their brand was a capital “I” and “C” together and you will see it on various items throughout the farm. He was one of the few non-Mormon men with whom Brigham Young conducted business. Dooly purchased 12 bison for the ranch and established a commercial hunting opportunity. They say that world champion boxer, Jack Dempsey, hunted there.

His son, John Dooly Jr., introduced sheep to the island, expanding to more than 10,000 sheep, making it one of the largest ranching operations in the west. When the demand for wool stopped in the ’50s, because of the introduction of synthetic fibers, they switched over to raising cattle. Prior to completion of the causeway, the animals had to be ferried back and forth to the mainland. It was operated as a ranch from 1848-1981. In 1981, Antelope Island became a state park, opening the site to the world’s visitors.

Antelope Island consists of 28,571 acres, measures 7-miles across at its widest point and is 15-miles long. The causeway leading out to the island is 7.2-miles across. Brochures state that the water is five times saltier than ocean water. There are no fish in the Great Salt Lake. These are all facts obtained from their brochures and other reference sites. But what you can’t put in a brochure is the beauty, the serenity, the good feelings and the welcomes afforded you on your visit to one of the best state parks in the west: Antelope Island State Park.