Native American History
The history of Antelope Island State Park begins long before it was established in 1981. The area around the island had been inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence suggesting human presence as far back as 10,000 BC. For centuries, the tribes used the island for hunting, fishing, and gathering resources. They also held ceremonies and other spiritual activities on the island.
Several of these tribes, including the Ute, Shoshone, Goshute, and Paiute still maintain a presence in the area today. The island was part of several 19th-century treaties and agreements between the U.S. government, many of which were broken by the government in favor of settlement and development. As a result, many Native American tribes were forcibly removed from the area and their ancestral lands were absorbed into expanding state boundaries.
19th Century History
In 1843, the island was claimed by the United States in what is known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty ended the Mexican-American War and led to the cession of much of what is now western Utah to the U.S., including Antelope Island. In 1848, the island was named by Mormon settlers who had been sent to explore the Great Salt Lake region.
With settlement in the area increasing, a military fort was established on Antelope Island in 1867 to protect settlers from hostile Native American tribes. The fort remained active until the late 1870s and was decommissioned in 1889. After the fort was decommissioned, much of the land on Antelope Island was sold off to private interests.
In 1895, Fielding Garr established a ranch near what is now called Garr Ranch and became one of the most influential ranchers in northern Utah. The Garr Ranch would remain an important part of the local community for decades and would continue to be owned by the Garr family until it was incorporated into Antelope Island State Park in 1981.
The Buffalo Herd on Antelope Island is one of the island’s most famous attractions. The herd originally consisted of just 11 buffalo that were brought from Yellowstone National Park in 1893. Over time, the herd grew and became an integral part of the island’s history. Today, visitors to Antelope Island can still observe these majestic animals in their natural habitat.
20th Century History
In 1969, the Utah State Parks and Recreation Commission designated Antelope Island as an official state park. This decision was made in order to protect the island’s unique environment and prevent further development from taking place on it. In 1981, the island officially became a state park and has since become one of Utah’s most popular outdoor. The park offers visitors a variety of recreational activities including camping, hiking, fishing, biking, and horseback riding. There are also several historical sites including Fielding Garr Ranch and the Buffalo Herd that visitors can explore. Antelope Island State Park is a great place to visit for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Utah’s Great Salt Lake region.