Detroit, the southern Michigan city hit especially hard by the great recession, hides an incredible secret beneath its surface. Right under the city, there is a gigantic salt mine, over 1500 acres and 100 miles of roads, stretching from Dearborn to Allen Park. The mines were originally owned and operated by the Detroit Salt and Manufacturing Company.
The mine was a booming place up until the 1980’s. They offered guided tours and was popular with school groups.
This area is the largest basalt rock area ever discovered. There’s about 71 trillion tons of unmined salt still in the mines. About 8,000 tons of salt was mined out of the shaft.
Mining all of this salt was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not an easy way of living, even today. Eventually, they started using donkeys to haul the salt out of the mine, but many would die. Much of the equipment used to mine the salt is still down there since it’s too difficult to get out.
The mine is interesting too because it’s so clean and rodent free. Joel Payton, a former miner there, 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.”