"An Enchanted Place": The First Saltair Pavilion, 1893-1925

A "Coney Island of the West"

"Lake Front, Salt Air Beach, Great Salt Lake, Utah"

Lithographic postcard of Saltair, 1893-1925.

From 1893 to 1925, Saltair operated during an economic, political, and social transitional period in Utah’s history. Many of these changes were shared by cities across the country. Utah saw a shift in the population as its urban centers grew. The mining industry attracted immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, changing the ethnic and racial demographics. New gender norms challenged Victorian ideals for courtship and marriage, as men and women mingled together in public. By 1890, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared its headquarters with an equal number of neighbors and businessmen of varying religious affiliations.

Twelve Bathers at Saltair

Twelve bathers of varying ages and genders pose for the camera on the pier at Saltair Resort, black and white, 1918.

Intended as a “wholesome” alternative to the other resorts on the Great Salt Lake, Saltair was billed as the “Coney Island of the West.” On May 2, 1892, Latter-day Saint leader Abraham Cannon wrote in his journal that Saltair was a business venture for “our people.” But Saltair would become much more than that. The architectural marvel attracted Utahns and tourists from across the social spectrum, inviting all visitors to engage with the Great Salt Lake while enjoying a variety of attractions, live entertainment, and modern amenities. 

“None but Western people would ever have built this. The old pioneer has been referred to. I always take off my hat when that word is spoken. The pioneer has lost none of his glory to me.”

- Judge C. C. Goodwin

Opening Ceremonies, June 8, 1893

"Arrival of Train at Great Salt Lake"

The train brought visitors to Saltair's main entrance. Lithographic postcard, circa 1893-1910.

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Project Supervisor

Melissa Coy

Digitization Program Specialist

Scanning and Metadata

Melissa Coy

Doug Misner 

Megan Weiss

Photographer

Chase Roberts

A "Coney Island of the West"