Stansbury Island

Stansbury Island, still considered an island despite the fact that the recession of the lake and the construction of a causeway connects it to the shore, is the second largest island on the Great Salt Lake. It is named after Howard Stansbury, the first Euro-American to perform a comprehensive exploration and survey of the Lake. The Western Shoshone called it Ya’han-go-a. About 11.5 miles long and less than five miles wide, there are a few fresh water seeps on the east side of the island’s mountainous interior. The highest point of the island, Castle Rock, is 6,647 feet above sea level and more than 2,400 feet above the surface of the Lake. Petroglyph sites dot the island, and two large caves were probably inhabited on a seasonal basis by Goshute peoples. Today, the island is used as a winter sheep grazing area, and for camping and recreation, with a bike trail allowing for scenic rides.

Stansbury Island, Great Salt Lake. Photograph by Charles Kelly. From Classified Photgraph Collection, Copyright Utah State Historical Society. 

Click here for the full oral history with Jim Van Leeuwen

Jim Van Leeuwen was born in Salt Lake grew up mostly at Dugway Proving Grounds, where his parents were civilian employees. After graduating from high school, he did landscaping and other jobs before injuring his back. Following his injury, he attended Weber State University, where he received a degree in zoology and criminal justice. Jim is an avid outdoorsman and loves wildlife. He works for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program. In this interview, Jim talks about his weekly boating expeditions at the GSL to check brine shrimp and other conditions. He shares his experiences getting caught in bad weather on the lake, and discusses the work he does when he’s not checking lake conditions at the lake. Jim describes the brine shrimp collection and monitoring process in detail, and finishes the interview with a brief discussion of Seabase, a scuba diving and lobster raising area near Grantsville.

Click here for the full oral history with Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams was born in California and raised in Salt Lake. In this interview, she talks about her family’s history in Utah and growing up near the Great Salt Lake. She also talks about developing an interest in nature at an early age. She discusses her education, her mentors, and her time as a student at the University of Utah. She talks about her work with the Utah Museum of Natural History and her career as an educator. Terry goes on to talks describe the process of writing her book Refuge. She also discusses her involvement with the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities Program. Finally, Terry describes some of her favorite places and memories of the Great Salt Lake.

Click here for the full oral history with Tim Begue

Mr. Begue talks about his early life, and his first experiences at the Great Salt Lake when he went sailing with his family. He worked as a river guide, and his boss suggested they go into the brine shrimp business. Tim talks about fishing for brine shrimp and the business he started, Prime Artemia. He describes the overall process of brine shrimping, from the work and competition on the lake to the processing and distribution. Mr. Begue talks about industry on the lake and the process of acquiring a certificate of registration to fish. He sold his business in 1996. Finally, Tim describes some of his favorite places on Great Salt Lake and recounts some of his favorite experiences.