Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby RLauer » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:49 pm

Hello,
Interesting posts, my father worked at that mine from opening to closing. I remember it well as a kid in high school.

Bob Lauer
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby mowingman » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:18 pm

I worked as a geological consultant in the early to mid 70's. On one project, I spent nearly a year visiting and inspecting every underground salt mine in the U.S. I have been in the mine in question. Yes, big companies can make mistakes and Morton made one here. They knew it was a mistake by 1975, as the reason I was there was to see if we could use the mine for a different purpose. Morton was jumping with joy at the thought of being able to unload this mistake, for whatever cash they could get for it. We got the royal treatment while we were there doing our evaluation.
Our client choes to not purchase the facility in the end, and Morton shut the place down. I am glad I was not one of the geologists who told Morton this was a good place to build a salt mine.
Jeff
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby RLauer » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:18 am

Odd how the story is so different. Either Morton Salt made a mistake by opening it or my father is lying to me.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby mowingman » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:42 pm

I imagine that the higher ups at Morton did not want anyone at the mine to know what was going on behind the scenes at the home office. I know we were instructed not to let anyone on the property know what our real purpose was for being there. As I recall, Morton officials did not even tell the manager the real purpose of our work there. They did not want rumors spreading about the possible sale and closure of the mine.
In fact, all of the various salt mining companies had cover stories, for our reason to be there inspecting their mines.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby scharnhorst » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:08 pm

poppyl wrote:Not sure that the residents around Severn Point Road would appreciate a barge loading facility. In the "old" days Watkins Salt received coal by barge and occasionally shipped out salt by barge. Of course, they sit right by the lake versus the mine which is about a mile and a half away up the hill.

In terms of the water table, we hit water at 50 feet and continued to encounter major water until we were below the lake bed (about 1000 feet in shaft depth) and just above the salt. The salt itself is impervious to water and below the water table. The problem lies with the access shafts and their grouting. If the grout lets go, the mine will fill with water.

Poppyl


There is a Major reconstruction project going on down on the Locks in Cayuga, NY new gates, motors, pumps and there makeing them a bit deeper all that is going on now.

Back in October of this year I also cought this huge barge WEEKS 28 in Seneca Falls,NY it got held up there during them few weeks that it was raining. I don't know what direction it was going but there were two Tug Boats with it one was an Ocean going tug and the outer one was small. They were owned by NYS Marine Highway.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby scharnhorst » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:09 pm

anoughter view. It was riding vary low in the water.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby scharnhorst » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:11 pm

huge tug darn thing must have been 180 feet long!
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby Sandy » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:36 pm

Bob Lauer, thanks for the information, i met your father years ago and remember him talking about working there, it is sad whats happened to the buildings and grounds and with the kids that are partying in the buildings is still happening. The sad
part is kids have built fires in the buildings, climbed on the i-beams and has done all sorts of wierd things, but yet no security to watch over the place, it seems, no it's apparent Morton does not care as for what has happened there or what is
happening there with kids and whoever else is doing things there. If they think it has costed them alot to shutter the mine
or maintain what's still there, how much will it costs if any kids get hurt or killed there to the lack of security and care on Morton's part. In todays world of sue happy, it could be millions of dollars if something bad happened.
It's sad to say, but it would of been better if Morton would of never built there, they destroyed alot of lively hoods back then along with alot of environmental issues, not to mention the eyesore that they have left behind along with no oversight or security. I bet any other salt mining company would not of left a mess like Morton did down in Himrod. But what's odd, look
at the other rock salt mining operations in Lansing and the new one at the American Rock Salt Mine, They seem to make it work but Morton couldn't, says alot about a company!
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby RLauer » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:37 pm

Thanks Sandy, yes I have to agree that Morton Salt should have removed all of the buildings long ago. It is a safety issue even though the property is marked to stay out but most of the fencing is down. I am not sure what contaminents would be there, salt is not toxic and other than everyday cleaning chemicals not sure what would be there if any. As I understand it the whole issue was a mis management problem since day one at Morton headquarters, there is still salt down there so someone higher up made some very bad decisions. I agree it is an eyesore and as I understand it paying the taxes is a whole lot cheaper than tearing it all down and selling it. Morton being such a big company proabaly does not even see this site as anything but a tax write off and a blip on the map. Those people back then are probably all long gone from Morton salt. Have you been in the buildings? It is a sad site.

mowingman: You are proabably right, the higher ups didn't want the employees to hear the truth. My uncle, Art lauer was transferred to Michigan and my father stayed on to get rid of the salt piles and then board up the windows and lock the last door on their way out along with three others. My father never seemed happy with the whole mess but we did stay in the Dundee area and they love that. I do believe that had Morton Salt run the plant correctly since day one in 1972 or so it woul dhave been a success and would have brought good jobs to the area for a long time.

Bob L.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby poppyl » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:15 pm

Scharnhorst;

I can't be totally sure, but that looks like a dredging barge.

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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby Sandy » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:09 pm

RLauer, thanks for the reply, i have been in the buildings in the past as i am a neighboring fireman that occasionally trains
at the Morton Salt facility when training is available through the County. Just last fall, we,(the fireman) walked through all
the buildings that remain and it was very discouraging. It can be seen where individuals have lit fires in the loading bays plus graffiti all over the loading area, real sad. In the former office building was papers strewen all over the floors, we glanced at some of them as they have been there for years and that's where we seen Morton's attempt at that time to possibly construct a barge loading facility at Severne Point but the conern was the condition that the road was in and what heavy truck traffic could do to that. It stated that Morton Chicago was looking at other alternative forms of moving salt as Penn Central was in trouble at that time. Another paper we seen was the monthly minutes that Morton officials had with Cementation, It was interesting on progress as the mine was coming to "life" at that time and the biggest concern at that time from Marvin Winkle was that the mine roads needed to be watered down to help control the salt dust, after seeing those papers, seems kind of odd how so many people said the mine had water problems. My relative and some friends worked above and below ground there and said they never encountered any water problems during operation, only when they were building the shafts and that was remedied.
So many different stories about that property, what makes this topic interesting to me is that my relation sold that property to Morton Salt.
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby poppyl » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:05 pm

Sandy;

We're kind of wandering away from anything railroad related here, but water was a bigger issue than the engineers planned for. Normally, we cased and grouted shafts past the "normal" water table depth. At Himrod we kept hitting significant pressurized flows all the way down until we were below the lake bottom (evidence that the lake is spring fed from the bottom) which required much more and stronger casing and grouting than originally estimated. And while the salt formation is naturally dry and impervious to water, the shafts provide an access route to flood the mine if the grouting fails. Since the grouting has not been maintained for over 35 years, I would not be surprised if some amount of water is already in the mine.

If you would like, contact me off-line and I'll be happy to share some ideas about what you folks might want to be doing about the site.

Poppyl
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby scharnhorst » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:13 pm

poppyl wrote:Sandy;

We're kind of wandering away from anything railroad related here, but water was a bigger issue than the engineers planned for. Normally, we cased and grouted shafts past the "normal" water table depth. At Himrod we kept hitting significant pressurized flows all the way down until we were below the lake bottom (evidence that the lake is spring fed from the bottom) which required much more and stronger casing and grouting than originally estimated. And while the salt formation is naturally dry and impervious to water, the shafts provide an access route to flood the mine if the grouting fails. Since the grouting has not been maintained for over 35 years, I would not be surprised if some amount of water is already in the mine.

If you would like, contact me off-line and I'll be happy to share some ideas about what you folks might want to be doing about the site.

Poppyl


Could it be beveled that the lakes are connected by underground tunnels and caves? just wondering
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby mowingman » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:55 pm

No, the "Finger Lakes" are deep areas gouged out by glaciers. They are not connected by caves or tunnels. The salt bed under New York state is a solid bed and not full of seams or pockets of water. The way water enters the mines is by folowing the sides of the mine shafts down from the surface and into the salt mine. Or, mining can cause a weakness in the salt roof or salt walls of the mine. This weakness allows a crack to form, or maybe a whole area of the roof to fall. then the water in the overlying beds of rock and sediments can enter the mine. A major roof failure is what caused the flooding of the Retsof mine.
Salt deposits can have large pockets of sandstone/clay/or shale mixed into it. It can be very hard to see these, and even harder to remove them to get pure salt. At one salt mine in Louisiana, they mined a large amount of salt that was contaminated with pockets of soft white sandstone. Campbell's soup raised heck when they mixed what they thought was pure salt into some batches of soup. All of a sudden, their big "soup mix kettles' started having a big sludge buildup in the bottom. The salt company involved, had to pay a lot of damges and cleanup charges to Campbells. This was not Morton Salt by the way, but a large competitor.
Jeff
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Re: Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

Postby scottychaos » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:45 pm

mowingman wrote:No, the "Finger Lakes" are deep areas gouged out by glaciers.


Interesting bit of lake trivia..
Seneca lake is three times deeper than Lake Erie!
(600 feet for Seneca vs. 200 for Erie)

Also not commonly known, Taughannock falls is higher than Niagara falls..

and speaking of T-falls check out this bit of geologic coolness:
http://nyfalls.com/taughannock-rock-fall.html
Taughannock falls continues to migrate westward..as she has for 12,000 years..
(make sure you "mouse over" the photo!)

Scot

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