Taking the Salt Air

Saltair Pavilion and BeachJust off of I-80 – the side that heads towards the town of Wendover (which spills over into Nevada) – and onto Reno (more than 500 long miles down the road), along the crusty, stinking banks of the Great Salt Lake, sits the Saltair Pavilion.  A curiosity, an updated relic from another age.  First built in 1893 as a resort and family-oriented amusement park, the building burned down in 1925.  It was rebuilt only to go up in flames once again in 1931.  It wasn’t until fifty years later that someone undertook to recreate the resort on the apparently doomed site.  This time it wasn’t fire but water that plagued the new Saltair.  The Great Salt Lake rose and flooded the building.

It’s nice and dry now – and is a functioning party and concert venue – (I’m sorely tempted to go see Jane’s Addiction who will perform there at the end of the month) but it retains an air of neglect.  The latest building is loosely modeled on the ornate original, but the tarnished onion domes, dull adobe facade and pointed arches are a Las Vegas architect’s perversion of a Russian Orthodox church crossed with the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.  Swallows’ nests crowd the ledges along the top of the building, windows are stained by the heavy salt air and bird droppings; and a handwritten sign taped to a side door window admonishes, “The Building is Closed No Bathrooms No Sightseeing No Trespassing Don’t Ask!!”  When we were there it didn’t stop several people from trying to open the chained and locked door.

Saltair from Afar

Saltair from afar.

Grasses, Salt Lake

Tall marsh grasses.


“Sticks” at the Great Salt Lake Marina.


One of the domes.

Swallow Nests

Nestled nests.

VIP Sign

The VIP window. Classy.

Bones in Sand

Ashes to ashes.  Dust to dust. Sand to sand.


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22 thoughts on “Taking the Salt Air

  1. tearoomdelights

    Wonderful photos Annie, I zoomed in to see the nests and was astonished by the number of them! It’s a shame that the pavilion is a bit neglected, it looks as if they could do something with it and make it a tourist attraction, rather than putting up signs to tell people to go away. They could have a great little tearoom in there.

  2. Brittany

    That VIP window is my style, I like it. This place looks great, I took in some salty air yesterday at the beach! No bird carcasses though, I did see a possum smashed into the road on my Saturday run.

  3. Robin Jean Marie

    Interesting post and terrific photos. The tall grasses seem to offer a reprieve from this desolate place. Curious, how such bad luck can strike a place three times–is there a message in that?

  4. Somer

    So cool! I’ve always been intrigued by that place, but Jane’s Addiction there? Really tempting! I thought they faded into the 90’s…..

    So the real question is, did you see the spiders?

      1. Somer

        Oh man, last time we went everywhere the place was teaming with spiders. Literally millions of them. HUGE ones. I had to use the public bathroom while there and I was terrified of the dozens of them (literally) that were in my stall. I’m not too afraid of spiders, but it was enough to make my skin crawl. Needless to say, we haven’t been back since.

      2. Somer

        I kept wondering why they didn’t spray them, but then I realized there are tons of endangered birds around there.

  5. Lou Dwan

    The photo of the “sticks” and the marina reminds me of New Zealand (my homeland!) It’s the mountains I think. Great photos, as always :)

  6. Sophie33

    Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing with us all! I al so love Jane’s Addiction: Been caught stealing, once when I was 5,…!!!!


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