Promontory History
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Promontory History


When Lake Bonneville was at its highest level, covering an area of 19,800 square miles at a depth of 1,100 feet, Promontory was an island.  Presently located at the north end of the Great Salt Lake, Promontory is an arm of land jetting southward into the lake, thus the name Promontory.  Promontory is approximately 40 miles long and varying in width.  The area consists mostly of mountain range that goes down the center.  Foot hills provide some farm ground on the east side while the west side is range land.  The crops raised in the area are dryland wheat, barley, alfalfa hay, and seed.

It is believed that Indians were the first humans to roam the area.  Many artifacts indicate that many of them wintered along the lake shore and mountains.  Caves show inhabitants and many arrowheads of various sizes have been found.  During this time and also when early white men arrived, buffalo roamed the area.

The “Mormons” who settled at Brigham City ranged their cattle along the Promontory.  The older folks tell of a land of waving grass as far as the eye could see and of cutting grass hay almost the length of promontory.  Due to overgrazing, the sage eventually took over.  When the railroad came through in 1869, Charles Crocker became on of the largest cattle barons in the Utah territory.  His ranch was known as the Bar-M.  The severe winter of 1887-1888 wiped out two-thirds of the cattle herd.  When Crocker died, the ranch was divided into two ranches known as Promontory Ranch and Curlew Ranch.  They controlled most of the water in Box Elder County.  There was a great push to break up the ranches, and David Eccles, a banker, purchased the Crocker holdings.  He sold the ground by the acre for range land and farms, and the owners then settled the Promontory area.  Some of the early settlers were Edwards, Harding, Toombs, Parsons, Davis, Weaver, Marsh, Woodland, Card, Pettingill, and Kruger.

A shortcut was built across the lake in 1903 by the railroad, and consequently, the Promontory Station was deserted.  In 1942 the rails were taken up and then donated to the war effort.

The Great Salt Lake at one time had a large amount of Salt Shrimp that would make the lake appear almost red.  As a result of harvesting the shrimp eggs, this hue is no longer seen.  The lake provided another source of industry.  A salt company owned by M. G. Pence built large settling ponds and then pumped salt water into them.  The water evaporated, leaving the salt which was then harvested, dried, bagged, and sold.