As Utah’s Great Salt Lake continues to shrink, hidden history is being revealed that has been submerged for decades. The remains of a ship that first sailed on the Great Salt Lake 120 years ago are now visible as the water level reaches record lows. The Great Salt Lake is full of history, with dozens of shipwrecks dating back at least 150 years. Some of these wrecks have resurfaced after storms or during low water levels, ABC News reports.
“There’s a rich history out here,” explained Great Salt Lake State Park Manager Dave Shearer. “There’s a lot of wrecks out here on the Great Salt Lake that have started to surface and it’s really interesting to go out there and see them.” In 2014, crew members searching for a keel that had fallen off of a sailboat near the lake’s marina discovered W.E. Marsh No. 4’s wreckage using side-scan sonar.
The shipwreck was submerged and only visible on clear days with sunny weather. However, now the remains of the 40-foot boat can be seen peeking through the water. “It’s leaning over on its side and you’re seeing the starboard side of the hull and you can see the whole hull,” Shearer pointed out. The W.E. Marsh No. 4 was one of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s locomotives used to construct the Lucin Cutoff, which included a 12-mile-long trestle bridge over the Great Salt Lake in the early 1900s.
The Great Salt Lake is now at record lows
The boat was one of the first to sail on the lake in 1902 when construction for the trestle began, says Shearer. It frequently transported people to and from the work site. Shearer says the vessel dredged before it was given to Sea Scouts. According to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the ship was seen last in 1936.
“It’s very exciting to see a piece of history there that people can come out and see. It’s also sad that the lake is this low, that we’ve got trouble out here — problems,” Shearer explained. In recent years, the Great Salt Lake has diminished to record lows due to a mega-drought and soaring temperatures. In 2017, the lake had reduced its water level by half since the first settler arrived in 1847.
Other North American bodies of water have been drying up due to drought and decreased precipitation. They have recently unveiled a few surprises. As the water level decreases along the length of the Mississippi River, submerged objects come into view. In Confederate territory near Baton Rouge, an old ferry from the late 1800s was revealed. Further north near Memphis, remnants from the Civil War era were visible as well. Five people’s remains were discovered on dried-up pieces of Lake Mead during this year’s historic drought.