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Great Salt Lake City was founded by Brigham Young and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in 1847. It marked the end of the 1,300 mile long Mormon Trail. The Mormons were looking for an isolated place to practice their religious beliefs without being persecuted, and had been expelled from Missouri and Illinois. Immediately, the settlers began building their temple, which was completed 40 years later. The settlers organized a new state, which they called Deseret. Congress denied their petition for statehood and instead created the Utah Territory. Salt Lake City (the "Great" was dropped) was named capital of the territory in 1858
More about the Great Salt Lake:
The Great Salt Lake is the largest saline (salty) lake in the western hemisphere, and fourth largest terminal lake in the world. A terminal lake is one in which there is not outflow of water.
The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of Lake Bonneville, a huge pre-historic lake that was once at least ten times larger than Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake is at least five times saltier than any ocean and people can most people can easily float on the lake. The salt comes from sediments carried by the few small creeks and rivers that empty into the lake. Because the water quickly evaporates in the Utah heat, only salt is left behind.