Courtesy of Roland Strong

A century ago Utah Lake was a destination spot dotted with leisure resorts, a jewel surrounded by mountains.

Recreational interests in the lake began to surge in the late 1800s. Utah Lake ranks third in size only behind Lake Tahoe in California and Flathead Lake in Montana for natural freshwater lakes in the Western U.S. Its diverse shoreline and expanse of open water created plenty of space for boaters, fishing and lakeside attractions.

The Saratoga resort opened on the north end of the lake in 1884. The Garden City Resort opened near the mouth of the Provo River in 1889. The Geneva Resort opened in 1903 at the site where the Lindon Boat Harbor is today. A history compiled by the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program says a competitive business arena saw 20 resorts come and go.

Take an historical glimpse of Utah Lake by clicking onward.

The "Sho-Boat"
Courtesy of Roland Strong

The 90-foot "Sho-Boat" was built in 1932 by Hewitt Strong and Elmer Smith. For more than a decade the boat made regularly scheduled weekend trips to Bird Island on Utah Lake. A ride on the Sho-Boat was considered a luxury cruise during the Great Depression.

Picnicking near the lake
Courtesy of Nanalee Stratton

Picnickers enjoy the simple pleasures of a summer outing on a shady spot near the mouth of the Provo River.

Lakeside attractions
BYU Photo Archives

A giant toboggan slide, built in the 1920s, was one of many lakeside attractions at the Geneva Resort.

Tickets, 75 cents
Utah State Historical Society

A newspaper ad that appeared in the American Fork Citizen on July 3, 1920.

Sea scouts
Courtesy of Mckay Andreasen

Boys organized as "sea scouts" during the 1930s learned nautical skills as they sailed on a boat they helped their troop leaders build.

The Saratoga resort
Utah State Historical Society

A 1920s newspaper ad promoting the Saratoga resort at the north end of Utah Lake.

The Provo Lake Resort
Utah State Historical Society

A newspaper ad published in The Daily Enquirer on June 14, 1897. The Provo Lake resort opened in the 1890s west of what is now the Provo Municipal Airport and operated until it was flooded by a rising lake in 1918.

Effects of drought
Courtesy of Roland Strong

Drought during the 1930s left many parts of the lake, including this boat dock, high and dry.

The Geneva Resort, 1926
Utah State Historical Society

1926 newspaper ad promoting the Geneva Resort.

Taking a test drive
Utah State Historical Society

Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Turner test their boat's limits while racing on Utah Lake in 1940.

The "Reanon W."
Courtesy of William Wilson

The "Reanon W." excursion boat was built for the Geneva Resort. The date on the photo is 1914, and the people on the boat are identified as a convention of the state's druggists. The boat left Geneva each weekend and visited surrounding resorts on Utah Lake.

The Provona Beach Resort
Utah State Historical Society

A newspaper ad that appeared in the Provo Sunday Herald June 29, 1927, promoting the Provona Beach Resort, which opened in 1921.

The Geneva Steel Mill
Utah State Historical Society

The Geneva Steel Mill on the east shore of Utah Lake was relatively new in the 1950s and brought industry and additional jobs to the Orem region.

Geneva Steel workers
Library of Congress

Workers at the Geneva Steel construction site are seen in a rare color photo from 1942.

Geneva Steel, 1942
Library of Congress

Early color construction photos of the Geneva Steel, 1942.