ANTELOPE ISLAND — As early as 1848 and maybe earlier, a man known as Daddy Stump lived on Antelope Island.
He had a crude camp and a roughly built dwelling near a spring. Mormon settlers found him when they began exploring the island in 1848 about a year after entering the Salt Lake Valley. It's not known how long Stump may have been on the island, but stories are told that he was a mountain man and bear killer.
John C. Fremont's journals make no mention of anyone living on Antelope Island when he explored the island in 1843. Historians believe Stump left Antelope Island and headed for Cache Valley with a herd of cattle around 1849 when the Fielding Garr Ranch was established. There is a mention that he lost his herd along with other cattlemen in Cache Valley.
Other than a few brief mentions of Stump in a few historical records, the only remembrance of him is a namesake ridge on the southern end of Antelope Island.
If Daddy Stump was still around, he would be surprised to find that his place of solitude has increased in popularity.
There are now many recreational activities available on Antelope Island which include hiking, road and mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking, bird and wildlife viewing, camping and visiting the visitor's center and Fielding Garr Ranch.
There are also activities sponsored by the Utah Division of Natural Resources like the annual Bison Roundup. There are also other activities and events found on the Utah State Parks website under Antelope Island State Park.
The Ogden Astronomical Society has regularly scheduled star parties on the island almost monthly throughout the spring, summer and fall. The dates and times for the star parties are also found on the UDNR website under the Antelope Island State Park listing.
For those who have tendencies a little closer to Daddy Stump and are looking for a nearby escape from the stress and anxiety of everyday life, Antelope Island can also provide that environment. The road leading to the island is 7 miles long and is the pathway to that sometimes needed solitude.
Here are a few simple activities you can enjoy while experiencing solitude at Antelope Island State Park:
A few of the hikes on the island have spurs (little offshoot trails that dead end.) Hike to one of the spurs and watch the sunrise or sunset for some peaceful time alone. Antelope Island has beautiful views of the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains or setting below the mountain ranges.
A beautiful sight is to look back at the Wasatch Range when the sun is setting. Many evenings there is a pale pink or orange color cast upon the range. This is especially prominent in the winter months when the mountains are covered or capped in snow. Beacon Knob Spur, Elephant Head Spur and Dooley Knob Spur would make nice vantage points for this activity.
Antelope Island is a magical place for photographers. Photographers can capture great images of birds and wildlife, various landscapes, old farm tools and structures at Fielding Garr Ranch, plants and flowers, rock formations, cloud formations, sunsets, sunrises and reflections in the Great Salt Lake.
Hike out to Buffalo Point with a pencil and notepad. Sit on one of the large rocks or carry out a lightweight camp chair and make yourself comfortable. Just ponder about what you see, hear and feel and write about it. Maybe try your hand at recording your experience in poetic form.
If you are camping on the island, be sure to look back at the distant city lights all along the Wasatch Front when it becomes dark. Try to guess which area of lights are which cities. This panoramic view can really give you the sense that you have left civilization. If the coyotes on the island start to yip and howl, the sense of being in the wilderness is enhanced. Stargazing is also great on the island.
Going to Antelope Island to have some quiet solitude can be a nice outdoor getaway. You can go alone to experience real solitude or share the experience with a friend or two.
What is your favorite activity at Antelope Island? Let us know in the comments.
Robert Williamson is a graduate of Weber State College and the author or "Creative Flies: Innovative Tying Techniques."