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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 29, 2009, 6:28 AM
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St. Barbara watches over Detroit's miners

I thought this would be interesting to post here, first, because most folks have no idea that there is an active salt mine beneath Detroit, and secondly, I was surprised how old school the operation was that you could have such open mixing of religion with the workplace.

Quote:


A wooden statue of Christian martyr St. Barbara stands in a place of honor in the Detroit Salt Co.'s mine under the city. (ANDRE J. JACKSON/Detroit Free Press)

St. Barbara watches over Detroit's miners

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Dec. 28, 2009

For more than a century, miners have extracted tons of salt 1,200 feet below the surface in southwest Detroit.

At Detroit Salt Co., workers installed this year a 3-foot statue of St. Barbara, the 3rd-Century martyr who is the patroness of miners. Lit by three lamps, the basswood image greets employees right after they step off the elevator that spiders down a quarter of a mile below the city's surface.

Connecting God with the Earth -- and the workplace -- the shrine is a unique way to link the divine and material worlds. The salt deposits were created about 400 million years ago from evaporation of ocean water and are now used as road salt in winter.

...

In the United States, many miners in the Midwest, including those at Detroit Salt, are Catholics with roots in Europe. Today, the company also employs workers with roots in Laos.

...
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 4, 2010, 5:14 AM
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Yes, I had no idea there was an active salt mine under Detroit of all places. That is cool.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 4, 2010, 4:28 PM
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I've heard about this, and while I would love to see it in person, I doubt it's possible. A very intriguing aspect of Detroit, Is there anyone that has any other pictures of the mine? I found these through a quick google search.



source: Mike Kuniavsky http://www.orangecone.com/archives/2...troit_sal.html




Source: Mikhailova Elena Yuryevna http://masters.donntu.edu.ua/2007/fg...y/book%208.htm



This is from the company's website:
It hasn't been updated in a while but provides some interesting information.

http://www.detroitsalt.com/home.htm



Quote:
As is this:

We are a part of the history and fabric of Detroit along with other long term businesses such as Vernor's, Ford Motor Company, and Stroh's. We have nearly 100 years of operations in Detroit. The gigantic salt mine spreads our over more than 1,500 acres with over 100 miles of roads. The mineshaft opening is located at 12841 Sanders Street in Detroit. [...]


Also from the site:

The Detroit Salt Company, LLC, has owned and operated Michigan’s only rock salt mine since 1997. This privately held, woman-owned business is as rooted in southeast Michigan as the mine itself. The mine is a thriving Detroit business supplying its customers, in and around the state if Michigan, with tons of rock salt to safely maintain the precarious winter roads of the Midwest.

Like a high-performance team, the people of Detroit Salt are fundamental to this success story. From the miners and customer service representatives to the administrative staff and management team, each employee contributes to the company’s efficient mining process and enriches the eclectic workforce of the Detroit Salt Company[...]

The salt mine’s 100-plus-year history with the city of Detroit encompasses decades of effort, manpower and technological advancements. The fruit of this labor is apparent in the phenomenal salt city now standing 1,100 feet beneath the bustling city life. It is very much a part of the history and fabric of Detroit, with a story that began millions of years ago.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 4:17 AM
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Another really interesting article on the mines, worth reading for anyone who wants to know more about them.

http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=17
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 7:12 AM
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This salt mine is opposite the mouth of the Rouge River:

http://wikimapia.org/6977605/Windsor-Salt-Ojibway-Mine
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 4:07 PM
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from that article...

Quote:
[...]Approximately 2.7 Mt are produced annually. In 1994 the company acquired the right to mine underneath Fighting Island which will provide sufficient reserves until the year 2038.
!! That's a lot of salt!!

What do you suppose happens when mines of this size and capacity are fully tapped of their resources? Could this become a storage space, or a permanent residence for people in the distant future, or is it just sealed up and forgotten? I know it sounds far-fetched, but my mind wonders at the possibilities for other uses of such vast 'city beneath a city' spaces.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 4:20 PM
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More Detroit Salt Mine images and another article:

Source: Atlas Obscura http://atlasobscura.com/places/detroit-salt-mine









Quote:

Detroit Salt Mine

Over a thousand feet beneath the Detroit streets is a subterranean metropolis few are allowed to enter.

Detroit is known for many things: the auto industry, the failure of the auto industry, hockey, Motown, and lately as an example of a city gone to pot. But there is another part of the city far fewer people seem to be aware of, and it lies directly underneath their feet.

Some 1,200 feet beneath the streets of Detroit, under the north end of Allen Park, Dearborn's Rouge complex, and most of Melvindale runs 50 miles of subterranean roads over an area of more then 5.6 kilometers. It is the Detroit Salt Mine, and as a Detroit industry it is older then automobiles. As a geological entity, this salt deposit is older even than the dinosaurs.

Created some 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period -- a time when the first fish were beginning grow legs and make their way onto land, and the first seed-bearing plants came into existence -- it was the result of ancient oceans pouring into a huge basin, evaporating, and leaving huge amounts of salt behind in the process. All of which would be covered up by dirt pushing glaciers.

The salt was first used by Indian tribes by filtering it from salt springs, and the existence of an enormous rock salt deposit was officially discovered in 1895. There was just one problem, it was beneath a thousand feet of stone and glacial drift.

Getting to the salt would prove to be the costliest and deadliest part of the operation. Six men were killed during the dig, and the Detroit Salt and Manufacturing Company was bankrupted in the process. The 1,060-foot shaft was finally completed in 1910. Everything had to be lowered into the mine, and once lowered in, it wasn't coming back out. This included mules, which once lowered in on ropes stayed in the mines until they died.(It is unclear what happened to their remains.)

A second tunnel was dug in 1922 so salt could be brought up faster and larger equipment lowered in. Lowered piece by piece (large truck tires had to be compressed and tied up to fit) and then reassembled in a machine shop in the mine, like the donkeys the machinery is there to stay.

Deeper then the Empire State Building is tall, miners ride down to the mine smushed face to face in a tiny elevator. Once down there they extract the salt in the “room and pillar” method where they leave half the salt to act as enourmous pillars. To extract they cut a large slice between the floor and a desired section of salt. they then drill holes for explosives and blast out some 900 tons of salt in less then three seconds. The salt is then crushed and thousands of feet of conveyor belt move the salt to the hoisting shaft where it is lifted out in ten ton loads.

The mine itself is a relatively clean and spacious place to work as far as mines go. It has no vermin, who would have nothing to eat, and workers are even allowed to smoke, as long as it isn't in sensitve areas. Today, the salt from this mine is used exclusively as road salt. Public tours are currently unavailable.
Dang.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 6:27 PM
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If the population continues to empty out, that might be a way to restart the Detroit economy if there are few occupied houses that need to be removed...
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 7:02 PM
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Wow. This is amazing stuff...
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2010, 7:07 PM
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Cleveland also has a downtown salt mine.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2010, 9:50 AM
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To see why there is a salt mine under Detroit, read the wiki page on the Michigan Basin:

Quote:


A giant incomplete bull's-eye is centered on the state of Michigan. Radiating outward to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ontario, this annular pattern outlines the Michigan Basin. The Basin is a bowl-shaped structure of uncertain origin that contains over 2.5 miles (4 km) of inward-dipping Paleozoic strata and a veneer of Jurassic sedimentary rocks. This curious basin is located in the less tectonically-active interior of the continent, bordered by the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. It subsided rapidly from Cambrian to Silurian time and filled with shallow-water marine sediments, some of which contain deposits of petroleum, coal, and salt.

Source: NationalAtlas.gov
No one seems to know how the basin was formed, especially given that the area hasn't ever been seismically or tectonically active.
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