So many salt jokes; so little time
Van Zandt County,
Central Texas North
32°40'40"N 95°42'41"W (32.677662, -95.711521)
Intersection of TX Hwy 110 & U.S. Hwy 80, and FM17
75 miles E of Dallas
14 miles E of Mineola
35 miles NW of Tyler
11 miles NE of Canton the county
ZIP code 75140
Population: 3,173 Est. (2019)
3,136 (2010) 3,028 (2000) 2,630 (1990)
Book Hotel Here Canton
Kleer Park, at intersection of US 80 & FM 857
The large saline
deposit was a major source of salt in Texas during the Civil War.
Salt was first obtained by the Indians. In 1854, works were built.
Sam Richardson, the owner in 1861, went to war and left his wife to
run the works until the Confederate government took over production.
Because salt was considered a strategic industry, salt workers were
exempt from army service for a time and many wells were sunk to obtain
the more than 10,000 pounds of salt made daily for the civilians and
army west of the Mississippi River. Mule-powered pumps drew the brine
from the wells. Gum logs, hollowed out and pinned together formed
a pipeline to huge iron evaporating kettles. Salt was then sacked,
purchased and hauled away on horseback, in wagons and oxcarts.
During the Civil War, the demand for salt, the only known way to preserve
meat, increased to supply the Southern army. Meat was salted, smoked
and then packed in salt for the long, hot trips to army camps. Horses
and mules used by cavalry, artillery, and quartermaster units required
the vital mineral, too. Salt also preserved hides for making shoes,
harnesses and saddles. When the Confederate government levied a meat
tithe on farmers, the demand for salt increased and often cattle and
cotton were exchanged for salt which itself became a medium of exchange.
When salt became scarce, women dug up smokehouse floors to extract
salt from the soil. Other Civil War salt works were operated along
the coast and in other East, Central and West Texas counties.
Erected by the State of Texas 1964
this Chicken Fried Steak salty, or is it my imagination?"
"It must be your imagination, my Chicken Fried Steak is fine.
The Salt Palace
and Grand Saline's Salt Festival
One of Texas' more
unusual structures is The Salt Palace at the intersection of
Hwys 110 and 80. This modern building , constructed entirely of salt
blocks replaces a more modest cube that was built in 1977 for Grand
Saline's Salt Festival. Call 903-962-5631 for information.
|Sprays and Cooling
Pond, Morton Salt Co. Grand Saline, Texas
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Salt Company / Morton Salt
The Salt mining
operation was known as the Grand Saline Salt Company before
it evolved into Morton Salt. But before the little girl with
the umbrella, there were Indians (without umbrellas). The Cherokees
had barely gotten comfortable in Texas and had hardly used any of
the salt, when they were driven out of Texas*
by the anti-Indian policies of Mirabeau
Lamar. During the Civil War, the salt was essential to the war
effort as a preservative and for tanning leather. It's mining was
considered a vital industry.
(*Chief Bowles of the Cherokees
was killed in the fight that resulted in the Cherokees leaving Texas.
A marker tells the story at a roadside park just East of Colfax.
This occurred in 1839.)
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
|Molton Salt Co.,
Salt Mine in Grand Saline, Texas
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Bad News : No Salt Mine Tours
The Good News : We won't run out of salt in your lifetime.
The mining operations just a mile south of The Salt Palace,
reach a depth of 700 feet and extend over a 60 acre area, so we're
told. They stopped giving tours a long time ago, so you'll have to
take our word.
A film tour of the mine is given in the Salt Palace Museum.
According to a Van Zandt Co. historical marker: 5 tons of salt was
mined each day and that was before the civil war. In 1982 they
mined 400,000 tons. The salt found here can supply the world's craving
for the next 20,000 years. After that, we'll need to find a substitute.
Deposit in Grand Saline Cartoon by Roger T. Moore:
attractions include the restored Texas and Pacific Depot, now used
as a city library and for civic meetings. 201 E. Pacific Street Hours:
Tuesday through Friday 9 to 5.
Photo courtesy Mike
Price, October 2007
- Wiley Post
Grand Saline is
also the birthplace of famous aviator Wiley Post. Post, who lost an
eye in an oil field accident, didn't let his handicap stop him from
winning speed and endurance flying records in the 20s and 30s. He
was the first to fly (in an experimental pressurized suit) into the
stratosphere. Will Rodgers, who was one of aviation's most
ardent cheerleaders, chose Post to pilot him on an around the world
flight. They died at the beginning of their trip close to Point Barrow,
Alaska in August of 1935.
|The Grand Saline
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact