Like the Great Salt Lake itself during the past quarter-century, the causeway to Antelope Island has had a stormy history. Here are some highlights:
-1964: Much of the road base for the causeway is built early in the year, but the base itself is constructed only 6.25 miles out into the lake, since a 1.25-mile-wide sand bar allows access to the island because of the lake's low level at the time. But the rising lake cuts off part of the roughed-in road to the island by fall.-1968: In the spring, the causeway is completed as a 7.5-mile dirt road and unofficially opened to the public for a brief time - until the lake washes away a portion of the road a few weeks later. By October, construction on a 70-foot bridge at the causeway's west end is completed, while most of the dead-end causeway remains open 24 hours a day until November, when a control gate is placed on the road's east end (and locked during off-hours) to curb vandalism.
-1969: The causeway to Antelope Island officially opens on Jan. 5, 1969. By Feb. 1, high waves force closure of the road and begin to erode it. By late February, a 3,000-foot section of the road is under water. The road remains awash but safe later in the spring, and $100,000 is spent to repair and strengthen the road. (About 124,000 tourists cross the causeway in its first year.)
-1970: Winds and high water threaten the causeway again in the spring. The road is raised 2.5 feet along a two-mile section susceptible to washouts. The dirt road is again soon passable, though bumpy, for the year's 198,000 tourists.
-1972: In late January, 14 cars become stuck in mud on the wet road and it is closed again. A month later, the road is reopened and repaired.
-1973: The road receives its annual spring dunking and is again awash in several places. The lake's spring level reaches 4,200.30 feet. In the fall, high winds wash out a 100-foot section of the road.
-1974: Unexpected wave damage temporarily halts causeway reconstruction intent on raising the road bed 4 to 5 feet.
1975: The causeway hastily reopens in April and then closes again "in the blink of an eye" as construction continues to raise and widen the road. On Oct. 11, the causeway reopens after being closed for nearly two years straight. (It has actually been six years since it was open for any real length of time.)
-1976: The road is closed during February for bridge work. In March, the lake attacks the causeway again, but the road remains undamaged for a change. The road closes on weekdays starting in August until October so it can be completed as a two-lane paved highway.
-1977: The causeway is blamed for increased odors around the lake and also for drastic changes in lake salinity.
-1978: More than 400,000 visitors cross the causeway en route to Antelope Island.
-1979: A $1 per car fee, the first such admission cost ever, is charged at the east end of the causeway.
-1983: The rising lake and spring winds threaten the causeway. By June, portions of the causeway's pavement width have been reduced from 44 to 15 feet. For the first time in seven years of uninterrupted service, the causeway is closed. By fall, the lake level is only about 2 feet below the road.
-1984: The causeway is still closed and now under almost 2 feet of water.
-1985: A ferry system with rubber rafts allows some visitors to cross the lake parallel to the causeway and visit Antelope Island.
-1986: The ferry service ends because of a lack of fresh water on the island. Most of the causeway is almost 5 feet under the lake.