Editors’ Note: The following are appendices of Jack Ray’s article, “Duck Fever: Hunting Clubs and the Preservation of Marsh Lands.”
The Lost Lakes
While duck fever saved and created many wetlands, almost everything else was lost. This is best exemplified by, but not limited to, the grim plight of ten sizeable lakes in the Salt Lake Valley. The only two left are shrunken, altered beyond recognition and surrounded by asphalt and offices.
Hot Springs Lake: The best known of the lost lakes is the several hundred acre Hot Springs Lake that existed in the area of what we now know as Beck Street. When Thomas Bullock explored Hot Springs Lake in 1847, he found the surface covered by “several thousands of snipe or plover.”  Howard Stansbury reported “while, at the western point of the same spur, about three miles distant, another spring flows in a bold stream from beneath a perpendicular rock with a temperature too hot to permit the insertion of the hand, (128 deg. Fahrenheit). At the base of the hill, it forms a little lake, which in the autumn and winter is covered with large flocks of waterfowl, attracted by the genial temperature of the water.” The geothermal springs in the area provided the waters for bath houses and also fed the lake. The lake connected to the Jordan River via a marshy outflow.
During the late 1800’s, Hot Springs Lake continued to attract masses of water birds and those who hunted them. “They are hunting Hot Springs by the myriad and the hunters are selling plenty of them. The supply of mallard is ample in the city.” “The spring lake abounds in wild ducks and geese.” One group of hunters shot 100 ducks each on opening day in 1894. That a lake of modest size could accommodate so many hunters so successfully is a testament to its appeal to bird life.
The lake’s warm water likely allowed portions of it to remain open into late fall and winter, attracting waterfowl in search of open water. While the lake became popular for boating, bathing and other recreation, it also became a repository for city sewage and a suspected breeding ground for mosquitoes. Its luck in surviving one drainage, agricultural or industrial scheme after another came to an end in 1915 when city fathers, in a fit of bug abatement driven civic betterment, decried its unhealthy attributes and drained it. The land was reclaimed in anticipation of building a new resort. It is now the locus of a refinery, tank farm and varied industrial uses. Just west of I-15, a small depression still tries to reassert itself as the last vestige of this once prolific habitat. Sometimes in the spring, a few avocets can be seen wading there.
White Lake: “White Lake yesterday was covered with ducks. There are pintail, mallard, canvasback and teal.” Between Twelfth and Fourteenth South and just west of the Jordan, there was a large lake that drew crowds of duck hunters every fall and ice skaters in the winter. As with Hot Springs Lake, its waters became fouled with sewage. Ice harvested from the lake was banned for domestic use though some made its way onto the market, leading to loud complaints from irritated customers who only discerned the ice’s poor quality when it melted and their kitchen smelled like an outhouse. No vestige of the lake remains.
Church Farm Lake: This half mile wide lake was a popular spot for duck hunting along the Jordan River at about 1400 south and 300 West. It drew thousands of ducks and masses of duck hunters. In the early 1900’s, hunters quickly bagged a limit of 40 ducks. At other times, as anywhere, the ducks were present but uncooperative. Papers joked that there must be two feet of lead on the bottom of the lake. The property was sold to D&RG RR and became a freight yard. Nothing remains.
Hunter/Silver/Hull/Yvonne Lakes: At about 2400 South and 4000 West, there was a series of lakes that covered hundreds of acres. Caravans of hunters made their way to the lakes to pursue flocks of birds that covered the lakes’ entire surfaces. Silver Lake was noted to be “one of the favorite feeding grounds” of ducks. The lakes later became duck clubs such as the New Moon Club. The land was sold to Kennecott and became the Copper Club. Kennecott eventually sold the land and it is now Stone Bridge Golf Course surrounded by offices and light industrial complexes. The closest thing to a lake remaining there are some water hazards and a central pond. A driving range was placed across the dusty, barren bed of one of the lakes.
Williams Lake and Smith Lake: This large complex sat due west of the city along the Saltair rail line (roughly North Temple) on land the airport now occupies. “Persons travelling to Saltair beach are surprised at the vast hordes of game birds that sport in the waters of Williams Lake. Thousands upon thousands of the birds can be seen every day in that vicinity.” Many hunters ringed the lake, its surrounding marshes and the smaller lakes that orbited it on the opening of duck season. The Salt Lake & Los Angeles rail line wanted to lower the lake level in 1897 to protect its tracks. An auto speedway was built across Williams Lake in 1912. No trace of these lakes or their surrounding marshes remains.
Decker Lake: “Decker Lake is covered with birds.” “The heaviest flight of ducks through the swamp lands west of Salt Lake City ever seen at this time of year was [at Decker Lake]. . . The sky was literally black with ducks for more than an hour.” Decker Lake was once a very popular spot with hunters lining its shores or the surrounding land hoping to catch birds as they flew to and from the lake. It became one of the earliest duck clubs in Utah. This is the only remaining lake south of the duck clubs save for a smudge of MacIntyre Lake further west. Now the lake is surrounded by parking lots and buildings and bordered on its west by I-215.
Ducks as Table Fare
In our times, a discussion of duck hunting and the market for ducks generally elicits the nose crinkling question: “They didn’t really like eating ducks, did they?” In fact, yes, they did. Wild duck was a delicacy available to the masses and Utah ducks were “noted for their excellent flavor all over the United States.” As the Herald noted, “After duck season opens there is not much of a demand for chickens.” Duck was economical, readily obtainable and considered delicious. In this respect at least, the modern palate has been dumbed down by the vacuous, flavorless flesh of manufactured chickens that are as boring a blank slate as ever existed. So, this brief surface scratching history of waterfowling in turn-of-the-century Utah would be incomplete without educating the reader about the pleasure of eating wild duck and providing a recipe along with a few cooking tips from long ago.
Today’s Utahns may have hesitantly received a package of wild duck at some time and promptly tossed it in the back of the freezer. Months later, conscience-smitten, the recipient resurrects the freezer burned carcass, overdoses it with a dubious collection of seasoning, buries it in bacon, cooks it until it’s as brown, dry and smelly as a drained duck pond and then finds it to taste as awful as suspected. But, fresh pintails, “fat as little pigs”, grilled to medium rare with the salted skin on are a gustatory revelation to those whose only knowledge of ducks comes from an uninformed culinary bigotry. Here’s one way to do it:
Grilled Duck with Plum Sauce
Pluck the breast. Cut the breast off the bone with skin on. Skin and remove the legs. Score the skin but not the meat and salt both sides. Scoring allows the fat to render and the skin to crisp. Melt butter in a medium hot skillet and place the breast in the skillet skin down. For mallards, cook the skin side 5-7 minutes, for other large ducks (pintail, canvasback, redhead) 5-6 minutes, and for small ducks (teal and butterballs) 3-4 minutes. Then turn over and grill the skinless side for half as long as the first side (ex. 3 minutes for mallards) and lightly salt the skin again. Don’t cook past medium and try for medium rare. “A wild duck, if properly cooked, should be sent to the table with its flesh as red as the jelly with which it is served.” Remove from the heat and place on a plate under tented foil for a few minutes. Some blood should drain out. “Most wild ducks should be served so underdone that the blood will run when they are sliced up.” The legs can be breaded in a blend of an herb (such as paprika), salt and flour and fried in the golden, sizzling pool of duck fat remaining in the pan after cooking the breasts.
Plum sauce: Cut up four plums in a sauce pan. Add two tablespoons sugar. Heat on medium for five minutes with lid on. Blend in a blender briefly and return to pan. Add a half cup of orange juice, two teaspoons of cinnamon and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Simmer for 7 minutes. (Adapted from a recipe in an online forum by an anonymous Utah chef.)
 Pearce, Louise. Salt Lake City’s Vanishing Hot Springs. Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah State History. MSS A 1690 1953, as quoted in, McLane, Michael, Taking the Waters: A History of Baptism, Business and Space on Salt Lake City’s Beck Street.
 Stansbury, Howard. Exploration of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institution Press. 1988.
 SLTrib, October 16, 1881.
 SLDem, September 29, 1886.
 SLH, October 2, 1894.
 SLTrib, February 24, 1901.
 SLTel, July 4, 1915; SLTrib, July 20, 1915.
 SLH, October 1, 1895.
 SLTrib, October 18, 1881.
 SLTrib, December 21, 1913; SLTel, July 22, 1916.
 SLTel, August 30, 1905.
 DN, October 13, 1897.
 SLTel, August 17, 1912.
 SLTrib, February 10, 1901.
 SLTel, November 17, 1910.
 Vinson F. Davis Diary, Sept. 10, 1910.
 SLH, October 1, 1904.
 Southern Utonian, January 19, 1883
 Adapted from: Shaw, Hank. Duck, Duck, Goose; Ten Speed Press (2013).
 SLH, July 20, 1890.