Salt Mine Under Detroit
June 13, 2003 8:15 AM   Subscribe

The history of the salt mine under the city of Detroit. Mined until 1983.
posted by NortonDC (18 comments total)
wait for it, Miguel...

via Larkfarm V2
posted by NortonDC at 8:16 AM on June 13, 2003

Yep. And we put it on our roads in winter to 1) melt the ice and 2) rust our vehicles so that we need to buy new ones. (Although today's cars last a LOT longer in this respect than they used to.)

BTW, anyone care to guess what's the first country you encounter if you head due south from downtown Detroit? ;)
posted by pmurray63 at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2003

A fascinating tale - thanks NortonDC.
The English Midlands town of Dudley (near where I grew up) has a network of abandoned limestone mines beneath it. Many of the tunnels can still be visited by tours run by the Dudley Canal Trust - here's a photo gallery. (And here's 'the Legging Song', an anthem of sorts).

Here's another site on the Portsdown Tunnels, beneath Portsmouth, and one on the Williamson Tunnels, beneath Liverpool...

pmurray63 - the answer's Canada of course. ;)
posted by plep at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2003

I never knew a thing about this, thanks. Man, I could really go for a beer and pretzels right now. By the way, what do you suppose the salt miners said on Monday morning? Back to
posted by planetkyoto at 9:18 AM on June 13, 2003

Hey, there's an enormous working salt mine under Cleveland, extending way out into Lake Erie. Here's a story about a woman who worked in it, and some of the labor issues involved.
posted by Faze at 9:22 AM on June 13, 2003

But wait, pmurray63, Journey sang about the "city boy born and raised in South Detroit" -- does this mean that Journey was really laying out an allegorical tale for peaceful international relations in the form of a power ballad?!
Maybe all that salt is why Detroit's old wounds are still so painful.
posted by chandy72 at 9:46 AM on June 13, 2003

Slightly OT, but for the Brits, time to post the obligatory Subterranea Britannica link (again!).

Re. the Dudley links (thanks plep!) I didn't see a full explanation of 'legging' on the Push Boys Push page, apart from the fact that it was 'slow and dangerous', but basically it consisted of a couple of planks that stuck out laterally either side of the longboat almost to the tunnel walls, on which you lay on your back, and then sort of walked along the vertical wall of the tunnel, while gripping the plank. This moved the longboat through the tunnel. From the song, it looks as if people fell off a lot.
posted by carter at 9:57 AM on June 13, 2003

carter - that is correct. It was the only way to move the barges along those airless tunnels.
posted by plep at 10:47 AM on June 13, 2003

Here's the Detroit salt mine now.
posted by stonerose at 11:08 AM on June 13, 2003

I haven't been able to get the FPP link to load yet (but will keep trying). In the meantime, here are some other salt mines to look at or read about.
posted by TedW at 11:11 AM on June 13, 2003

Christ, Faze, that story's depressing. Thanks for the link, though.
posted by notsnot at 11:12 AM on June 13, 2003

TedW - doesn't work for me in Mozilla, but does in IE.
posted by carter at 11:19 AM on June 13, 2003

Thanks carter and NortonDC.
posted by TedW at 11:35 AM on June 13, 2003

Huh, "the mine reopened in October 1998."

I did not know that.</Carson>
posted by NortonDC at 11:48 AM on June 13, 2003

pmurray63 - the answer's Canada of course. ;)

Yep. I just love that bit of geographical trivia.

And speaking of Detroit geographical trivia... they recently uncovered the "Point of Origin" -- the spot from which Judge Augustus Woodward laid out the Detroit street grid in 1805. (DFP story and front page photo)
posted by pmurray63 at 11:52 AM on June 13, 2003

More geographical trivia ... London also has a stone reputed to be its centre. It's supposed to be 2000 years old, and is called the London Omphalos.
posted by carter at 12:12 PM on June 13, 2003

Romanian salt mines
posted by MzB at 1:08 PM on June 13, 2003

Wow, great link. I live near metro detroit and had never known that. Thanx for link to the cleveladnd link too I use to live directly across from the morton salt mine. Very cool to watch the huge boats come in.

Fascinating to learn its the same salt bed.
posted by Yossarian at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2003

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