08 August 2022

Lake Bonneville Animation

I made a thing! Of course, it is of my favorite Pleistocene-age closed-basin lake system = Lake Bonneville!

Also, I had to make a YouTube channel, so I guess you can check that out too.

07 August 2022

Salt Lake County in Relation to Lake Bonneville

The Salt Lake Valley has Lake Bonneville shorelines on the west (Oquirrh) and east (Wasatch) sides of the valley. You just need to look at the mountainsides to see those etched horizontal lines (the Provo and the Bonneville being the easiest to spot).

But it is also fun to see where those shorelines are in areas where it is more difficult to spot them, like under the built environment of our cities.

This map shows how the cities of Salt Lake County are situated in relation to the shorelines.

More about Lake Bonneville!

Lake Bonneville was a Pleistocene-age lake (the last Ice Age). Similar to how the Great Salt Lake is today, the shorelines of ancient Lake Bonneville responded to changes in climate; the lake level increased when it was wetter/cooler and it lowered when it was warmer/drier.

Lake Bonneville was one of several closed-basin lake systems in the Great Basin during the last Ice Age; Lake Lahontan in Nevada being the largest but lots of little ones too. If you find yourself on a playa anywhere in the Great Basin, then you are at the bottom of an ancient lakebed.

The maps in my post show the geographic extent of Lake Bonneville overlayed on top of a modern map. I will detail the SLC area in my next post. The images are in order of highest elevation to lowest, but not in chronological order.

The Stansbury level is the oldest of the main shorelines. The final image shows the Great Salt Lake modern low (today).

Lake Bonneville was a cold freshwater lake. The highest mountain tops (Wasatch, Deep Creeks, etc) had large glaciers and the lake had its fair share of icebergs floating around, it was the Ice Age after all.

My interest in Lake Bonneville relates to the first people living in our area. It’s unclear exactly when people first inhabited the Bonneville Basin. Clearly, people did not live underwater but the shorelines certainly were utilized at some point.

Archaeological evidence shows that people were living and working along shorelines, at least around the Gilbert phase during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.

A human-made fire hearth documented at the Wishbone archaeological site in the Great Salt Lake Desert shows people were in this area at least by 12,300 years ago. It seems that at least parts of the lake at this time supported freshwater fish and there is direct evidence of Mammoths and waterfowl present, making it an attractive place for ancient people.

Paul Inkenbrandt has put together a fantastic Story Map of Lake Bonneville that you should check out. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/f5011189bdc94545b9231d56e4ffc1e4

19 July 2022

Identifying the Bonneville Shorelines

Those large terraces seen on the mountains throughout Utah are the shoreline remnants of Lake Bonneville which covered most of northern and western Utah during the Pleistocene (the last Ice Age). More about the geographic history of Lake Bonneville later.
A wide overview of the north side of the Oquirrh Mountains at the Kennecott Smelter. The 3 main shorelines are highlighted.

A more detailed view of the same location.

The first thing is to start spotting and identifying the primary 3 shorelines seen along the Wasatch Front and throughout Utah’s West Desert.

Those three shorelines are named (from highest to lowest):

The Bonneville shoreline is usually the easiest to spot, it is the highest in elevation and thus marks the lake at its peak. The Natural History Museum of Utah sits along this shoreline as does the Salt Lake Flight Park (paragliders) in Draper. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail generally follows this shoreline.

Provo is also a prominent shoreline, visible in most places where the Bonneville Shoreline can be seen. It often has draperies of tufa (a calcium carbonate precipitate, best known for the tufa “spires” in Mono Lake). The Provo shoreline was formed when the lake overflowed at Red Rock Pass in Idaho. The continued erosion of this natural dam caused the lake to recede quickly and drain to the ocean through the Snake River. The lake stabilized at the Provo shoreline level.

This shoreline is more subtle than the Bonneville or Provo. The Stansbury shoreline is the oldest of the 3 main shorelines and has been eroded and reworked by the later Bonneville and Provo shorelines. As such, it is only visible in certain areas.

There is also the Gilbert Shoreline, but that is a whole different post. There are lots of active investigations and discussions about the Gilbert. And it is generally hard to spot so I have excluded it here.

I like this image from Utah's Department of Natural Resources G.K. Gilbert Geologic View Park that shows the lake levels of each shoreline in relation to landmarks of Salt Lake City.  
Image from Utah DNR, link to storymap.

Now you get to try to spot the shorelines:  
Same view of the north side of the Oquirrh Mountains at the Kennecott Smelter, without labels.
Photo was taken May 2022.

24 June 2022

Soil Collection Ceremony From the 2 Lynching Sites in Salt Lake City

Jars full of soil from the lynch sites of Thomas Coleman and William Harvey.

On Saturday, June 11, 2022, I participated in the Soil Collection Ceremony for the 2 lynchings that occurred in Salt Lake City's past. 

Soil from the lynching sites were collected, placed in labeled jars, and then sent to the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) Legacy Museum in Alabama to join the other jars of soil from lynching sites around the country.

The two Black men lynched in SLC are Thomas Coleman and William Harvey.

Mr. Thomas Coleman
Thomas Coleman arrived in SLC in the early 1850’s as a slave with a party of Southern LDS slave-owners who were traveling to and settling in Utah. He subsequently worked for Brigham Young at the Salt Lake House hotel in downtown SLC and is believed to have joined the LDS faith.

The exact circumstances surrounding Coleman’s murder remain a mystery. What is known is that on Dec 11, 1866 several boys playing on Arsenal Hill (now Capitol Hill) overlooking SLC found his body. With his own knife, Coleman was stabbed in the chest twice and his throat was cut so deep that he was nearly decapitated. A sign was also left on his body that read, “Notice to all N*****s. Take warning. Leave white women alone.” He was 35 when he died.

The soil collection ceremony started at the steps of the Utah State Capitol, within view of the site of Thomas Colemans's murder (now the southwest lawn of the Capitol building).  

Ceremony at the Utah State Capitol. The lynching site of Thomas Coleman is on the southwest side of Capitol Hill.

Soil collection spoons for Thomas Coleman.

My spoon with soil at the flag marking the lynching site of Thomas Coleman on Capitol Hill.

Literature from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). This report of Lynching in America is on the EJI website

We then marched from the Utah State Capitol Building to the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building at 125 S State Street, the location of the Old City Hall building (which was moved to Capitol Hill and now serves as the Utah Office of Tourism).  

Mr. William "Sam Joe" Harvey
William Harvey (sometimes “Sam” or “Sam Joe” because he served "Uncle Sam" in the US Army) arrived in SLC in early August 1883. Little is known about his life prior to that point. He came from Pueblo, Colorado. He was an Army veteran about 35 years old and tall with an athletic build. Harvey set up a bootblack stand on Main Street. He was described as irritable and some worried about his mental health.

On August 25, 1883, just weeks after his arrival, Harvey got into an argument with F. H. Grice, a local Black restaurant owner; Harvey allegedly pulled a gun on Grice but then fled the scene without harming anyone. Harvey was soon confronted by the SLC Police, whereupon Harvey is alleged to have shot 2 police officers, of which one died. Harvey was tackled, taken into custody, and led two blocks away to City Hall (now the location of the Wallace F Bennet federal building).

A crowd quickly devolved into a mob demanding blood for the slain officer. Other police officers, after beating Harvey, turned him over to the mob that grew to an estimated 2,000 who then secured a rope around Harvey’s neck and hung him from a rafter of the jailhouse stable, adjacent to City Hall, where he died slowly and fighting for his life. After Harvey died, the crowd then drug his body down State Street for several blocks.

 Lynch site of William Harvey, previously the site of the Old City Hall and Jail and now the site of the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building. The lynching site is near the SW portion of the building.

The story of William Harvey’s lynching told by @blackmenaces

Me, adding soil to William Harvey’s jar.

I also took the suggestion to use my hands to feel the soil when filling the jar. 

My hands with soil from the site of William Harvey’s lynching. 

The courtyard at the Wallace F Bennett federal building is near the lynching site of William Harvey. 

A small rose garden grows along the edges of the courtyard. This is a relatively quiet reflection spot. I think I will write to someone (GSA?) to recommend more roses be planted. 

Save Utah's Black History. And Tell the Story. Sema Hadithi Foundation.

I am part of the Sema Hadithi Foundation, and I hope you will read about them, sign up for the newsletter, and share some of the many storieshttps://www.semahadithi.org/