LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - DECEMBER 16, 2018 by Lynne Belluscio South of LeRoy, between Route 19 and Bernd Road and south of Cole Road was “Le- high.” The area is shown as Beaver Meadow on the maps. The name Lehigh came from the Lehigh Salt Mining Com- pany that had a salt mine in the area. The mine shaft was over 800 feet deep. Unlike the LeRoy Salt Company in the village at the end of Lent Avenue, which pumped brine to the surface and boiled off the water to obtain the salt, the Lehigh Mining Company mined hard rock salt known as halite. The Lehigh Salt Mining Company began sink- ing a shaft in 1891. It was 12 by 14 feet wide and 800 feet deep. Once they got to the salt, the bed was about 30 feet deep. In 1892, when the mine went into operation it was considered to be one of the largest salt works of its kind in the United States. A quar- ter mile long trestle connect- ed the mine with the B.R. & P. Railroad, which conveyed coal to the boiler-house. Six boilers powered two Corliss engines for operating the ele- vators in the mineshaft. The company owned 425 acres and had mining rights for an additional 2500 acres. By 1894 the mine extended nearly a mile underground. Mules were used to haul the salt to the shaft elevator. Be- tween 1,000 and 1,200 tons of halite was processed each day. The salt was 98.5 percent pure. The company produced four grades of salt: C grade was the size of small lead shot; No. 1 was a little larger; No. 2 was about the size of a pea and No. 3 was the size of a marble. The mine also pro- duced lump salt that came in pieces 50 to 500 pounds each. The salt was used for pick- ling, packing, refrigeration, the manufacture of soap and glass, and tanning hides for leather. But he largest con- sumers were the large chem- ical companies. Early ship- ments were sent to Chicago. In 1894 the company em- ployed about 130 men who were housed in tenant houses. When the mine closed some of these houses were moved into LeRoy. One was moved to Summit Street. The mine manager’s house is still standing on Route 19. There was a large brick building for the mules, a brick machine shop and a store. In 1894 the Lehigh Salt Mining Compa- ny was bought by the Retsof Salt Company, which soon closed the LeRoy mine down. It was said that the pink salt contained too much iron, but in reality, Restof was closing down competition. In 1903, there were plans to open the mine, pump out the water and mine gypsum and marl. But the shaft had completely filled with water and apparently the plans were abandoned and in 1904, the huge breaker build- ing was dismantled. There are many stories of folks hunting in the area and coming across old founda- tions and airshafts. Eventual- ly, the open shaft was covered by a cement pad. But today, all that’s left are the photos from the newspaper. Notice the row of tenements Lehigh