Bonneville Salt Flats during the winter has about 1 inch of water on it
Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert named the area after Benjamin Bonneville, a U.S. Army officer who explored the Intermountain West in the 1830s. In 1907 Bill Rishel and two local businessmen tested the suitability of the salt for driving on by taking a Pierce-Arrow onto the surface of the flats.
A railway line across the Bonneville Salt Flats was completed in 1910, marking the first permanent crossing. The first land speed record was set there in 1914 by Teddy Tetzlaff.
Entertainment filmed at the salt flats include portions of Knight Rider, Warlock, Independence Day (1996) and its sequel, SLC Punk, Cremaster 2 from Cremaster Cycle, The Brown Bunny, The World's Fastest Indian, Gerry, The Tree of Life, Top Gear, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Furthermore, the Pontiac Bonneville (former flagship sedan of the Pontiac motor division), the Triumph Bonneville motorcycle, and the Bonneville International media company are all named for the salt flats.