History of the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)

In 1845, John C. Fremont and his expedition crossed through the very heart of the salt flats in an effort to find a shorter overland route to the Pacific. In the following year, Fremont's route across the flats would come to be known as the Hastings Cutoff.

The Cutoff, promoted by Lansford Hastings as a faster and easier route to California, proved to be just the opposite for the ill-fated Donner-Reed party of 1846. A factor contributing to the Donner-Reed tragedy in the Sierra Nevadas was the delay the party experienced on the salt flats when their wagons became mired in the mud found just below the thin salt crust. Abandoned wagon parts from the party were present on the flats well into the 1930s, and the wheel tracks of their wagons were still visible in 1986 when archaeologists examined several sites associated with the party.

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