Saturday, May 18, 2013
Fielding Garr Ranch Antelope Island May 12, 2013
Location: The Fielding Garr Ranch House is located on the southern end of Antelope Island. After crossing the seven mile causeway, turn left onto the road that follows the eastern shoreline of the lake. Follow this road 11 miles to the Ranch which will be on your left. Keep an eye out for Bison and other animals as you drive south along the road.
General Information: Admission is free because it is on state park land. Please realize that upkeep of the grounds and buildings is expensive so donations are encouraged. Highlights include a museum with artifacts and history of the ranch, Grain Silo, Ranch house, cellar and stable. The grounds themselves are beautiful with large Cottonwoods and flowers. A large picnic area offers a great place to eat lunch or dinner with plenty of shade from trees.
Short History: The Fielding Garr Ranch has a number of distinctions. First, the ranch house is the oldest "Anglo" structure still standing on its original foundation. Second, the ranch was in operation from 1848 to 1981. Cattle and sheep were the primary livestock managed by ranch hands. In 1981 Utah bought the southern half of the island ending operations.
In 1848, Fielding Garr had been commissioned by the Mormon Church to establish a ranch on Antelope Island to manage the churches tithing herds (livestock to fund the Perpetual Immigration Fund). (Church members created the fund to aid in the relocation of Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley). Fielding Garr chose this area because of its location on the strong Garr Spring which supplied ample water. The Mormon Church operated the ranch until the late 1870s.
The next owner was John Dooley Sr. who purchased Antelope Island for one million dollars. Under his direction the newly created Island Improvement Company introduced 12 bison to the island in hopes of creating a commercial hunting venture. Under John Dooley's direction the ranch would also have one of the largest industrialized sheep and cattle ranches in the west. It would be a large working ranch until 1981. (Information from Fielding Gar Ranch Informational Booklet Produced by Utah State Parks).