Friday, October 23, 2009

Something you may not have known

Part two (electricity was part one) (or maybe coffee was part one) of posts which talk about strange and wonderful things you kids may not have learned properly in elementary school. Little Canuck has left and gone away to another school (he had to be set back a grade), but there are still many of you left to abuse. :)

Did you know there is a huge salt mine under the city of Detroit? Detroit is located at the western end of Lake Erie. Can you find Lake Erie, little Sage? No? Well, it's not on the map of Cornwall, dear. Let me show you. :) [click to enlarge map]

There is too! Don't be shaking your head, little Sheila!

• The mine has been operating over 100 years
• It covers 1500 acres
• There are over 100 miles of "roads" down there
• The mine shaft opening is at 12841 Sanders Street
• No more tours currently
• Provides winter rock salt for the roads in Michigan (and other places)
• Salt deposited millions of years ago
[click to enlarge image]

It is truly a city beneath a city, 1,100 feet down, though many Detroiters aren't aware it is down there. But now YOU know!

Credit where credit is due. This post was inspired by a post (partly about salt) from the eminently more interesting blog of the Travelling Spouse.


  1. Interesting. I did not know that. You noted it was used for roads; does that mean it's unfit for human consumption?

    Am I the only one who thinks this would be a good place to send the Wall Street "geniuses" Who brought the financial world to a standstill and now believe they're still entitled to ungodly bonuses while unemployment continues to gallop toward 20%. Their predatory, short-sighted, self-serving practices are part of the reason why Detroit is becoming a ghost town which makes it particularly fitting in my opinion.

  2. Very intriguing! Thanks for clarifying!

  3. @Stephanie B - Well, Salt is salt, chemically speaking. But most "table salt" is refined, more often from brine than from mines. Sea salt is not refined, per se, being simply evaporated. Usually sea salt is so coarse it is ground in the shakers, similarly to pepper mills.

    Salt which is mined is then crushed to "rock salt" size particles. Just like rocks from a gravel pit are crushed and graded. From an economic standpoint, a rock salt mine's customers are meat packers and water softening companies, and, of course, to put on roads in the winter. (Michigan roads use about 500,000 tons of rock salt in a typical winter.)

    The U.S. is the world's largest producer of salt (42 million tons)and China is second.

    As an aside, there are 30,000 trillion tons of salt under Michigan's Lower Peninsula, geologist say, with over 73 trillion tons in the Detroit area alone. Enough to supply the world's needs probably until the next ice age. BUT (there is always a but) Most of it is too deep to be economically extracted though. So there's that. :)

    I disagree with you that Detroit is becoming a ghost town. Detroit's demise began with the riots of 1965 and it has never recovered. The auto companies' latest saga is like kicking a dead horse. It doesn't matter. It is hard to notice the extra pain. Detroit's demise was race-related. Anyone, black or white, who is old enough to remember will tell you that if he is honest. The original white tax base fled decades ago. Today, the city is 81.6% black. It is largely a welfare city, one way or the other. Having said that, it is also a proud city with a lot of good people who are not going to give up. But it is not a ghost town and I believe a renewal is already in progress. If Obama and the Federal Government in general, would just leave it the hell alone.

    I was born in Michigan, raised in Michigan, schooled in Michigan, but haven't lived there in a long time. Don't count Detroit out just yet. It reached rock bottom years ago, been kicked and lampooned, but is struggling to it's feet again. My opinion. Not exactly a reborn Phoenix, but at least a born again drunk. Time will tell.

  4. Rock salt is used to make "corned" beef. In fact, that's where it got its name - the rock granules were about the size of grain (grain in British-ese is/was "corn".)

  5. Hmm, I see you've cornered the salt market. I was just about to do a post about the salt works in the Camargue, the Salins du Midi. It dates from Roman times. Oh well, think again, onward and upward.

  6. Detroit.... Lake Erie, Lake St.Claire

    Ever hear of Lake Peigneur in Louisiana? Or what happened when a Texaco Drilling rig in the lake, looking for oil, accidentally drilled through the roof of a salt-mine tunnel?

  7. @A. - I was looking forward to that post so I hope you change your mind. Yours isn't about a mine.

    @Soubriquet - No, I didn't hear about that lake or incident in Louisiana, but I have the same nightmare about oil drillers (which may not exist) in the English Channel. Because I've heard there is a tunnel underneath it somewhere. But, for the record, Detroit, or the salt mine, is not under any body of water. So drill away. :)



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