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Early 1900's boat uncovered on the shores of Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake State Park
The outline of the W.E. Marsh No. 4 is seen near the waterline of the Great Salt Lake State Park.

A boat from the early 1900’s has been uncovered on the shores of the shrinking Great Salt Lake. Angelic Anderson, a ranger at the Great Salt Lake State park, says the boat is the W.E. Marsh No. 4.

According to Anderson, the 40-foot motorized boat, complete with a cabin, was made in San Francisco and brought to Utah between 1902 and 1904.

“It was used in helping to build the Lucin cutoff. That's the railroad that cuts the lake in half. They would transport passengers from other areas of the lake and bring supplies to the railroad. She had a speed up to eight miles an hour which was awesome at the time,” Anderson said.

The W.E. Marsh was used by the railroad for several decades before being donated to the Sea Scouts. The last recorded mention of the W.E. Marsh was in the 1950’s, when the Sea Scouts used the boat on a volunteer search and rescue mission. It wasn’t until 2014 that the W.E. Marsh was discovered by accident outside the Great Salt Lake State Park’s marina break wall.

“A sailor had gone out and actually lost his keel in our deep channel, and so we had to try and locate that keel and make sure it wasn't going to become a hazard. They actually saw a side sonar of what looked to be an outline of a boat. They sent a diver down; he confirmed it was a boat. And that's when it was figured out to be the W.E. Marsh No. 4,” Anderson said.

It wasn’t until 2022 that lake water levels dropped low enough to uncover the boat. Anderson says the water line has receded so that visitors to the Great Salt Lake State park can practically walk up to the boat.

Max is a neuroscientist and science reporter. His research revolves around an underexplored protein receptor, called GPR171, and its possible use as a pharmacological target for pain. He reports on opioids, outer space and Great Salt Lake. He loves Utah and its many stories.