Issue 7-20-14 Website - page 10

LeRoy Salt
Salthasalwaysbeen important
to human civilization. It was
extremely important for food
preservation at a time when
canning was not an option.
Butter, cheese, meat, and
cabbages needed salt.
Early settlers in this areaoften
relied on awinter trip east to the
Onondaga salt springs where
brine was pumped up in wells
and thewater boiled off in huge
iron kettles. One account noted
that the usual winter trip wasn’t
madebecauseof theweather and
the settlers in the area were in
desperate need of salt.
In 1823, Charles Hill of
LeRoy wrote to his parents in
Connecticut that “Mr. Graves
nearus, hasdugawell andbored
last fall about fifty feet for salt
water, which he has obtained,
Butwebelieve itnotof sufficient
saltness to make a profitable
business. Yet it isbelieved that if
he should go to the depth of 100
feet there would be water found
worth boiling, as it increases
in strength as he goes deeper.”
Once theErieCanalwas opened
in 1825, the salt from Syracuse
salt production increased.
It wasn’t until 1878 that the
brine that lay beneath LeRoy
would be tapped. Nicholas
Keeney and others furnished
$1,500 for C.M. Everest of the
Vacuum Oil Company to come
toLeRoy and sink awell.
OnDecember 4, 1878 “after a
great deal of difficulty, the well
was sunk to a depth of 620 feet,
where salt was found. “Thewell
was sunk another thirty feet and
stopped.VacuumOilwas looking
forgas,oilor salt, andapparently
they found all three on the Lent
andonFebruary21he reached a
depth of 450 feet. But instead
of brine, Everest has struck
gas. “Gas commenced escaping
and continued to increase at
an incalculable rate when as
if from the bottomless pit, it
rushed up and about, and filling
the atmosphere and, taking the
responsibilityof theaffair, started
out to celebrate the occasion
independent oforders fromother
From the well about ten feet
distantwas a stove. Here the gas
tookfire and soon enveloped the
workshop, with the men, who
were so taken by surprise they
barely succeeded in
saving themselves.
Wi th l ightning
speed the derrick
was surrounded by
flames, took fire,
and only for the
next freak of nature
it would probably
soon have been in
At this critical
momentan immense
volume of water,
i mp r e g n a t e d
stronglywith sulfur,
rushedfifty feet into
the air, saving the
property. Columns
of water and waves
of gas continued
alternately toappear
in the afternoon,
when brine leaped
upward seventy feet
in the air and so
increased in force
that at 7 o’clock it was at the
heightof110 feet, thebrinebeing
free from the sulfur.”
This was the beginning of a
fairly prosperous salt industry in
Goodman.Theyare in theprocess
ofwritinga technicalpaperon the
LeRoysalt industry.As theyhave
told me, the story of the LeRoy
salt industryhasbeenoverlooked.
Dr. Goodman told me that very
littleknown about brinedeposits
like those inLeRoy:
“The combination of water
(brine) and salt is unique to
what we geologists call “the
up-dip terminus” of the salt
beds. Very little is known about
the hydrogeology of the up-dip
terminus. We don’t know if
the water is very ancient (pre-
glacial), Pleistocene (glacial) or
Modern. Wedon’tknow for sure
howmuch brine is present or at
what rate it could be pumped.
Theshallowbrine ispartof the
overall story. The hydrogeology
is complicated. In some areas,
the Onondaga Limestone can
supply large volumes of very
good quality water. There is a
convergenceof localand regional
flow systems near the foot of
the escarpment. The local flow
system is fresh.The regionalflow
system ismore saline.”
Theotherpartof theLeRoysalt
story is the men, like Nicholas
Keeney, S.C. Wells, and A.E.
Miller who invested in the
company. Unlike many other
salt companies, LeRoy salt was
controlledby local investors.But
there were buy-outs, take-overs
and corporatewrangling.
The salt industry in LeRoy
ended in 1928. The LeRoy Salt
Companywassold to theWatkins
Salt Company and they closed
theLeRoyplant.But it shouldbe
known, that at one time, LeRoy
salt was considered some of the
best in the country.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,...24
Powered by FlippingBook