We’ve spent the last few days in Salt Lake City visiting my aunt and cousin and seeing some of the sights, and I have to say I’m underwhelmed.
Not sure what I expected to find out here, but it definitely was not a bit of industrial America plopped down in the high desert around the Great Salt Lake.
Driving through Salt Lake City and its numerous suburbs today reminded me strongly of driving through Joliet and some sections of the South Side of Chicago. Downtown Salt Lake City, particularly around Temple Square, is immaculate, kept that way by numerous city workers driving miniature street sweepers. But get away from the city’s religious-government precinct and you find just another inner cityscape.
We started the day by driving out to see the Great Salt Lake because if you manage to get here, you’ve really got to see it. It was big, but was sort of down-at-the-heels looking. No vegetation can grow on the lakeshore except some of the very hardiest, salt-tolerant bushes and grasses. And there aren’t many of them. So it’s a lake with no greenery on its banks—which I thought I had been prepared for, but really hadn’t. It’s a desolate looking body of water with a rocky shoreline.
One of the interesting things about it was the sand along the lakeshore. Walking on it gave the same feeling as walking on dry dirt back in Illinois. A very strange feeling.
In keeping with the region’s mineral production history, we found a giant Kennecott copper smelter right across the road from the entrance to the Great Salt Lake State Park.
We had much the same feeling when we visited Green River, Wyoming. For some reason, I had envisioned Green River as a sort of oasis where the Mountain Men came to rest and relax, but it’s a pretty hardscrabble place. My wife suggested there might be as many rail cars on sidings in the middle of town as there are residents.
The drive from Green River down the mountains to Salt Lake City certainly met expectations, with spectacular mountain scenery all the way.
So a mixed bag. Beautiful scenery interspersed with mineral extraction sites and pipelines with few people and lots of railroad trackage on the way to Salt Lake City, a general letdown when we got here.
Tomorrow, we drive up the mountain chain to Polson, Montana. Fortunately, they’ve been getting rain up that way today, which has washed some of the smoke from the firs west of there out of the air. We’re looking forward to visiting with friends there before we swing back east again as we return to the Midwest.