• Himrod and Watkins Salt Mines

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

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  by K4Pacific
 
The ALCo's in question were mostly PC heritage, although I recall Reading C630s and LV628s with oil everywhere. Then there were GE 6 axle U-Boats. I'll dig out some photos and jpeg them out here. But it wont be tonight, I'm pool side with egg salad and iced tea. MMMMnnnn. Maybe a happy hour of some fine libation of my choosing.

Needless to say the rails are rather shiney on the line now more than ever due to traffic increases.
  by henry6
 
Yeah, the Alco's of that line were PC...NYC and PRR...heritage. Under CR there were the LV U28's, too. But I don't really recall the bigger 6 axels LV's or others up there too much...I would think there were restrictions on those spindly bridges around Watkins Glen on both lines. Salt weight a lot, often overloeaded cars, I would not have thought much of overloading the bridges with big locomotives, too!
  by K4Pacific
 
Oh God Henry sorry to mislead you. No 6 axles were allowed in the latter years on the line. The ones I were talking about came out of Syracuse and down to Morton's. That's all. I'll look it up in my PC timetable, but I'm pretty sure no 6 axles were allowed. You thoughts and others too are appreciated.
  by lvrr325
 
Isn't one of those mines active? The only one not active, the one at Himrod Jct. which is pretty well sealed up. I could see someone thinking they had permission to ride around that property.
  by BR&P
 
Himrod was a deep mine.

The two at Watkins Glen are injection mines (if that's the proper term) where water is pumped into the ground and back out again, there are no miners digging the salt out.

Either way, they are still private property. It's possible the owner gave permission, but I rather doubt it. That was a common line when I was a kid getting caught somewhere I should not be..."Some guy said it was OK" :wink:
  by march hare
 
International Salt Company's Glen Works (on the side of Seneca Lake, north of the village of Watkins Glen, still a good customer for FGLK) is shown on 1914 fire insurance maps. Its clearly a solution mine at this time (ie they aren’t digging the stuff up, rather they pump hot water into the ground, make a brine at depth, and then pump it up to the surface for evaporatoin and processing.) Interesting to note that the plant layout is essentially the same in 1938, the last year I have available.

The other plant on the south side of town is not shown on the 1938 maps. But ti’s ambiguous whether this is because the plant wasn’t there, or because it was too far out of town at the time.
  by JimBoylan
 
march hare wrote:International Salt Company's Glen Works (on the side of Seneca Lake, north of the village of Watkins Glen) is shown on 1914 fire insurance maps.
It's been around much longer, back in canal boat days. South of Salt Point, the lake bed is paved with them. The local rumor is that one night in 1850, a storm caused more than 100 boats to break loose and sink.
  by Sandy
 
On the topic of the Himrod Salt Mine. Many rumors surfaced why it closed. It seems odd that at that
time it was the most modern Salt Mine in the U.S. and millions was spent opening it up. A few years
later it closed. Seems kind of odd. Maybe it was put there for something other that Salt, Is there something
underground there that is secret, It seemed to be abandoned quickly at that time.
  by poppyl
 
Just a quick update on the physical status of the facility. All aboveground structures (excluding the headend towers) are being torn down and removed. D&D is supposed to be complete by the end of this year.

About as many rumors persist about why the mine was shuttered as there are people wondering. Although I believe that economics was the ultimate decider for the short period of operation, the various other factors mentioned previously also played some role in the final decision by Morton to walk away. FYI -- the mine was written off as a loss on the Morton books within three years after closing.

Could it ever reopen? Sure, but it would be difficult in today's environmental and safety conscious climate. Assuming that a healthy market for rock salt existed, the environmental concerns about the mine's tailings and the likely leaching issues would have to be dealt with as would the safety issues already mentioned. Clearly, the price to re-open the mine would be substantial and the approval process lengthy and contentious. It just doesn't look feasible anytime soon from my perspective.

Several uses for the site have been proposed ranging from storage of nuclear waste (that got a lot of people exercised in a hurry) to , most recently, location for a Finger Lakes museum and nature park (lost out in the first round of reviews). I'm not holding my breath that anything will happen with the site.
  by Westfolk
 
Sandy wrote:On the topic of the Himrod Salt Mine. Many rumors surfaced why it closed. It seems odd that at that
time it was the most modern Salt Mine in the U.S. and millions was spent opening it up. A few years
later it closed. Seems kind of odd. Maybe it was put there for something other that Salt, Is there something
underground there that is secret, It seemed to be abandoned quickly at that time.

It's funny it took so long for someone to mention, or ask that, in this thread.

Haven't been there in a few years. But I know that there is, or at least was, much more to the place than salt. On more than one occasion years ago I would stop next to the tracks and look at the place. Even then...this is in the 80's and 90's... the place still had power to it and maitainance to site. If you have an eye for it you could tell that wheels had been rolling on the tracks going into the place. Not everday, but every now and then. Best of all was if you sat there long enough someone would always show up driving an unmarked car with government plates and ask what I was doing. Tell me that's standard for an old closed salt mine. I first got interested in the place because a buddy of mine used to live between there and Dresden and said something was going on there. He told me that he saw something all covered up with a tarp unloaded into the salt plant on to a truck. Then they moved it up to the Naval barge later that night. So, after that I had to take a look when I could...........

I don't care what anyone says. There was, who knows still is, something about the place other than salt.

Be a nice place to store things you know. Build a salt mine. Mine it out. Give some BS reason that people will buy. Now you have a nice underground facility.

Why would someone driving a vehicle with government plates ask me what I'm doing??????????????
  by CPSD40-2
 
...And when a vehicle with government plates drive up and asked you what you were doing, what did you tell them? Generally around government properties, there's pretty clear signage to deter curious folks - not open areas with no fencing or signage, and a mysterious car that seems to show up. There's a lot of tall tales about the surrounding area, between the Seneca army Depot, Sampson, the salt mines, and the sonar testing platform on the lake. Conspiracy theories never die.......

Back to the railroad side of this, found a neat article in the Penn Central Post about the mine:

http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/post ... t-1074.pdf

Anyone know when the tracks to the loading area were removed? The above link says they were averaging 45 cars a day in and out of there - thats pretty impressive - over 16,000 carloads a year. For perspective, Finger Lakes handles about 18,000 cars a year total.

From a modeling perspective, this would make for a pretty neat industry - not all that hard to build either.
  by poppyl
 
Since Seneca Lake is a federal waterway, the EPA and Corps of Engineers (along with NYSDEC) continued to monitor the tailings pile and mine itself for potential leaching into the ground water and ultimately, Seneca Lake. Numerous stream and well monitors were installed in the vicinity of the mine as were some number in the lake itself. As an aside, the hamlet of Himrod has recently received a municipal water system to replace failing and/or polluted wells in the area.

As I mentioned earlier, all aboveground structures will be gone by the end of this year. All trackage was removed some years back. All mechanicals associated with the access shaft and production shaft have been removed. As far as I know, the mining equipment is still underground, however.

Since the mine itself is well below the water table, the water entering the mine came through the two shafts. Although the shafts were cased down to the salt, there may have been gaps between the casing and the shaft sidewalls allowing water to run down the outside of the casing. Additional grouting and a 300 hundred foot extension of the shafts probably lessened the problem but I do not know if it was ever eliminated.

BTW, the tailings pile consisted primarily of the shale/salt mixture mentioned previously.
  by CPSD40-2
 
I assume the tailings were to the north/northeast of the mine structures? Where did they go?
  by Sandy
 
It great to see the interest concerning the Morton Salt Mine in Himrod. Just a question, why don't Morton
Salt convert the property into a Saline Salt Plant like the one in Silver Springs NY. I doubt they will be able
to sell the land, who would want it. They can't say the salt would not be good for a saline mine since there
are two Salt Plants down the road in Watkins Glen. It would not only benefit Morton, but also create jobs
and put to rest the rumors surrounding that facility. There will always be a need for salt. Just a thought,
why doesn't somebody pose that question to Morton in Chicago?
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