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

The tragedy of the Donner-Reed Party inhibited extensive use of the Hastings Cutoff as an overland migration trail. The salt flats did, however, yield scientific information to the expeditions of Captain Howard Stansbury in 1849 and of Captain J.H. Simpson in 1859, both with the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.

Fifty years after the Donner-Reed party slogged their way across the flats, the area's first use as raceway was conceived by publisher William Randolph Hearst in a publicity stunt. Hearst hired William Rishel of Cheyenne, Wyoming, to attempt a crossing on bicycle. Rishel completed the journey, crossing the salt flats in 22 hours.

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