Saltair – Tooele, Utah - Atlas Obscura

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Tooele, Utah

This concert pavilion on the shore of the Great Salt Lake has been destroyed by fire, water, and disinterest but keeps coming back. 


Originally built in 1893 in an anachronistic Indian style complete with domed ceiling and minarets reminiscent of a wooden Taj Mahal, the Saltair entertainment pavilion has been ruined time and again by a number of catastrophes and has been rebuilt each time in order to make the Great Salt Lake seem a little less bleak. 

In its original conception, the Saltair resort pavilion was a lush wooden construction that stood out over the lake on over 2,000 wood pylons, providing a picturesque break in the black ring of brine flies that otherwise cover the beach up to the water. The site made use of a commuter train that ferried young couples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the site where they could enjoy a day at the beach free from any worries and gossip their conservative brethren might have. The site was wildly successful during its day, but the wooden construction proved its downfall when a devastating fire tore through the date spot in 1925.

However the Saltair was not down for long and a new pavilion was built on the site just years later. Unfortunately the days of taking a date down to the pungent shore of the Great Salt Lake for some chaste Latter-day Saint bonding were over. Motion pictures had come into vogue among other entertainments located right in Salt Lake City, making the reasonably remote Saltair far less appealing. Like its predecessor, the second Saltair succumbed to an arson fire that once again destroyed the site.

Yet again the Saltair rose from the dead in 1981, this time attempting to capitalize on the nearby highway traffic that had been passing the lake and its burnt husk for years. This new venue was established as a concert hall, trying to attract hipper young acts to the site. Unfortunately a massively damaging flood nearly destroyed the site once again and competition from larger venues made sure that the expected audience never materialized. This newest Saltair sat empty for over a decade until new investors gave the site one last shot, renovating the space and managing to attract popular modern acts that finally made the site a success for the first time in nearly a century.

Today the Saltair is still a popular concert venue which, while lacking in some of the architectural grandeur of its predecessors, it has managed to avoid any annihilating fires. 

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