Anarchy in the GSL
A few movies have been made about the GSL, including a snoozer by artist Robert Smithson and the even-artier 1963 cult horror classic Carnival of Souls. But the most iconic scene was in 1998's SLC Punk, in which Stevo, Heroin Bob and friends try to dispose of a stolen car in the lake—but, despite being riddled with bullets, it won't sink—enhancing the lake's mythology.
Sea Monkeys from Outer Space!
Image courtesy of Joseph Bremson
Apollo 16, in 1972, took brine shrimp eggs all the way to the moon to test the effects of cosmic radiation. We're still waiting for gigantic mutant sea-monkeys to attack Salt Lake City.
Saltair: Wonder of the World
It comes as a shock to many Utahns, but Saltair, built on 2,000 pilings in 1893, was something extraordinary. It had its own railroad to haul in crowds to bob, corklike, in the water. Saltair was the largest amusement park west of Coney Island. Sadly, the wooden structure burned to the ground in 1925. A second version hosted Big Band greats, including Glenn Miller. It succumbed to a 1970 fire. Now, few locals care to frolic lakeside, explaining the unsuccessful, not to mention, underwhelming, 1981 iteration of Saltair as a concert venue.
Salt Lake weather geeks often blame a particularly nasty winter storm on "lake effect." It's almost legend that the Great Salt Lake puts hoodoo on passing storm fronts, whipping them into blinding blizzards and loading the clouds with angel-kissed powder snow. The reality is: not quite. National Weather Service Lead Forecaster Mike Seaman says that so-called lake effect is real, but it's a fickle contributor to snowfall. It's a spring or fall phenom, when the temperature of the lake is warmer than the surrounding land. If a cold front rolls into the valley, it hits the warm rising lake air that can increase a snowfall, says Seaman. "All the ingredients—wind, temperatures, moisture—have to be just right to create a lake effect. Occasionally we'll get a really heavy snow in the valley that's directly related to the lake, and because the valley is heavily populated, the effect gets more attention."
The Day a Pelican Downed a Falcon
In May 1982, an F-16 "Fighting Falcon" flying a training mission out of Hill Air Force Base collided with what is generally believed to have been an American white pelican. According to the Air Force accident report: "A birdstrike caused the radome to shred and the F-16 to lose control. Pilot ejected safely." The $35-million jet fighter and the pelican didn't fare as well-both were total losses.
A Bird of a Different Color
Utah's most famous South American immigrant was Pink Floyd, a Chilean flamingo that escaped Tracy Aviary in 1987 and provided a splash of warm color in the monochromatic lakescape. With his strainer beak and long legs, Floyd was better-adapted than many native birds to thrive. In the mid-2000s, Floyd went MIA. But in the winter of 2014, a birder reported a yet unconfirmed pink flash. Is he back?
The Strange Case of Jean Baptiste
In 1862, a gravedigger named Jean Baptiste was caught hoarding the clothes of deceased women in his Avenues home. The crime, with its Norman Bates overtones and sheer ghoulishness, shocked the city and lurid accounts claimed he'd pillaged up to 300 graves. But even more strange was the punishment devised for Baptiste. Authorities sentenced him to exile on Fremont Island in the Great Salt Lake and some accounts say they burned the words "Branded for robbing the Dead" on his forehead. Records show he was deposited on the lonely island in the middle of the salty sea and disappeared from history. No bones were ever found on Fremont.