Detroit is an industrialized city with towering skyscrapers that will draw any tourist’s eyes. But did you know that it has a lesser known tourist spot hidden underground? Most people don’t know that beneath this sprawling metropolis is a decades-old underground salt mine, which has remained somewhat of a secret for years.
The Detroit underground salt mine was formed millions of years ago, when the ocean water that receded in the Michigan basin solidified and formed rock-hard salt deposits. Since the salt deposits are buried deep underground – 1,200 feet to be exact – it remained untouched for years.
To say that it’s massive is an understatement. The salt mine below the city of Detroit covers 1,500 acres of land, spanning from Allen Park all the way to Dearborn. For many years, this was unbeknownst to the people of Detroit. That is, until it was unearthed in 1895.
Although salt is not an expensive commodity today, back in the day it was difficult to come by. That’s why the people of Detroit were so delighted to discover such an abundant source of salt right beneath their city. But one problem remains: how were they going to access the mine?
Since it was difficult to access the underground salt mine, it took people more than 15 years to build a shaft that would serve as the main entrance to the mine. Among the giant companies who spearheaded the project were the Detroit Salt and Manufacturing Company and Watkins Salt Company.
The underground salt mine is located so deep below the ground that not even rodents can live in it.
A miner named Joel Payton recalls:
“One reason we don’t have any rats in our Detroit mine is because the rats would have nothing to eat except the leavings of our lunch pails. And by the way, not only are there no rats or cockroaches or other living creatures in our mine, but also no remains of living things from past ages.”
Today, the massive salt mine is still operational. Instead of table salt, they produce road salt. This kind of salt is useful during winter because of its ability to melt snow.
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