• 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

  • 137 posts
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  by poppyl
 
I have no idea what the plans are for the shaft headends. My understanding is that the current contract does not include them, however. I will say that their concrete/cement construction will outlive all of us by a long shot and they look to be pretty well buttoned up. No hurry to tear them down as long as there is no evidence of erosion or spallation, IMO. They also represent the largest investment at the site. Everything else can be rebuilt relatively cheaply at some point in the future if such a decsion is made. As I said, I'm not holding my breath on this one.
  by Sandy
 
Do you know if plans are to take all buildings down this year or will the packaging warehouse and the
other smaller building remain.
  by poppyl
 
I believe that the D&D contract refers to production related buildings. I had assumed that would include the warehouse but your earlier comment caused me to think that it may survive this round since it could be used for some other purpose. On the other hand, it has been neglected for all these years just like everything else and it might cost more to bring it back rather than tearing it down and building new. IMO, they should clear everything out now while the contractor is mobilized on site to minimize site prep costs for any potential future use or buyer should one ever materialize. You should have your answer on the warehouse within the next few weeks.
  by jayenelee
 
Sticks in my mind that I heard the mine shafts had to be left alone for environmental reasons; I think they had just done a bunch of concrete work on them, which inluded pouring the doors shut a few years ago. My guess at the whole situation is that it is part of a resource management scheme (which I know Positively nothing about). I have noticed a lot of highly productive gas and oil wells drilled and capped. From what I've heard about those and what I've heard about this, I see a lot in common. If my guess is anywhere near the money, then things will be opened up when the time is right. :-) :wink: Remember that it is only a guess, and that's how rumors start....

My moms uncle and (I think) cousin, put their careers in at the "Watkins" (as the family called it) Salt mine. In the event I have my facts straight, this is the one presently called the "US Salt" mine.
  by Sandy
 
One thing that always intrigued me, especially living so close to the plant as a kid, when they shut
down, it seemed like Morton just turned the power off and walked away like they didn't care about the
property or the local area. I remember as a youngster, we could walk anywhere on that property,(that
was in the mid 80's) doors left open to all buildings, no security or oversight for that matter, it was not
safe. We did not go in any buildings due to the fact if my parents found out we did, we wouldn't of been
able to sit down for a week. It is sad to see what has happened over there, but i hope they(Morton) pays
substantial amounts for the carelessness and neglect that they inflicted not only on their property but also
what they have done to the Himrod area with the contamination. If that would of been Cargill or International
Salt that had started that mine, I bet it would of still been in operation because they at least know how to
operate a business of that type. In some ways, maybe it would of been better if they never built there, at
least the local water supply would of not been contaminated, which Morton caused in some parts of the
hamlet of Himrod( especially Plum Point area). Did they offer to help out with the cost of that system, of
course not, If they don't care about the property they own, why care about the wells that they contaminated.
In the past few weeks, there were large holes that were dug in the former rail yard toward Severne Road, I
walked on the railroad tracks and looked with my binoculars, guess what was in those holes that were dug,
stuff that came out of the buildings( conveyor belts amoung other things) Of couse now you look, no more pits,
they've been covered up, something else Morton is still doing, contaminating the property. So sad, just proves
they don't care, Where is the DEC during this demolition? I think their in bed with Morton!
  by scharnhorst
 
Sandy wrote:One thing that always intrigued me, especially living so close to the plant as a kid, when they shut
down, it seemed like Morton just turned the power off and walked away like they didn't care about the
property or the local area. I remember as a youngster, we could walk anywhere on that property,(that
was in the mid 80's) doors left open to all buildings, no security or oversight for that matter, it was not
safe. We did not go in any buildings due to the fact if my parents found out we did, we wouldn't of been
able to sit down for a week. It is sad to see what has happened over there, but i hope they(Morton) pays
substantial amounts for the carelessness and neglect that they inflicted not only on their property but also
what they have done to the Himrod area with the contamination. If that would of been Cargill or International
Salt that had started that mine, I bet it would of still been in operation because they at least know how to
operate a business of that type. In some ways, maybe it would of been better if they never built there, at
least the local water supply would of not been contaminated, which Morton caused in some parts of the
hamlet of Himrod( especially Plum Point area). Did they offer to help out with the cost of that system, of
course not, If they don't care about the property they own, why care about the wells that they contaminated.
In the past few weeks, there were large holes that were dug in the former rail yard toward Severne Road, I
walked on the railroad tracks and looked with my binoculars, guess what was in those holes that were dug,
stuff that came out of the buildings( conveyor belts amoung other things) Of couse now you look, no more pits,
they've been covered up, something else Morton is still doing, contaminating the property. So sad, just proves
they don't care, Where is the DEC during this demolition? I think their in bed with Morton!

The mine was getting expensive to operate due to the amount of shale mixed in with the salt. You also must understand that there was no such thing as an EPA until the mid 70's early 80's which came about to handle the Love Canal crisis in Buffalo, NY at the time. So big industry pretty much did what it wanted until the EPA set the rules of what they could and could not do. It takes a lot of time and a lot of media attention to make a site into a Federal Super Fund Site. I'm sure that the DEC is well aware of whats in the ground and I bet that there are monitoring wells around the property if you look hard enough. As for junk being buried on the property the mine more than likely had its own land fill which the DEC would have issued permits for them to have.

As for buildings having open doors and busted glass your more than likely seeing the results of thieves and trespassers looting the place that's a case for the cops to handle.
  by sd80mac
 
Sandy wrote:that it is never to be used for mining, what a waste.
at least, not at taxpayer's expense... so dont feel bad about being waste... u would feel bad when u hear this..
there is a nuke power plant up in canada, east of Toronto. They build new one and was completed built one in 70's. And get this, they NEVER flipped "ON" switch since then. millions and millions of dollars (most likely taxpayer's) went down the toilet!!!!!!
  by poppyl
 
Sandy;

If you sense that something is going on at the site that you are uncomfortable with, you should contact the DEC office in Avon.
  by mowingman
 
The statement in one of the above posts, that Morton did not know how to run a salt mine, is just plain ignorant, as well as incorrect.
In the mid 70's,I did geological studies in every underground salt mine in the U.S.. The study, included complete inspections of all the underground mines to see if they could be used for the proposed Stratigic Oil Reserve. I was in this mine when it was operating. This was the smallest of all the Morton mines at that time, as it was nearly new.
Of all the salt mining companies at that time, Morton and International Salt ran the best operations. Both these companies were top notch in effeciency, safety, and cleanliness. Cargill mines, and Cary mines were just plain rundown, and even dangerous in my opinion.
I believe the exploration of the salt bed at the Himrod mine was not well planned/carried out, and missed a lot of the contamination. This lead Morton to make a mistake, based on inaccurate info. The mine should never have been built at that location. When I was there, Morton was very interested in selling the mine to the Govt.,, as they knew they were in trouble with it.
Jeff
  by Sandy
 
Mowingman, I'm just stating what some of the employees that i knew worked at Morton at that time, they
said the biggest problem was mismanagement, Marvin Winkle was very "disasterous" in many of his decisions.
Would i liked to see the plant still in operation, of course i would. But what gets me and alot of other locals is
how they just walked away from that enormous investment they spent there and let everything deteriorate to
what it is today. Surelly, they could of used the warehouse and other buildings for some use that could benefit
Morton, but was never done, at least keep the buildings properly maintained and the property at least secured.
That was never done. So in my mind, were they embarrased of this business decision or in my eyes, they just
did not care.To bad, it seems to me at least with that property, they ran a "mismanaged" operation which
reflects the rest of the Morton operations and look, how many times have they been sold over the years.Sorry
but thats my opinion and the opinion of many others of which one that worked there was a supervisor in the
packaging and warehouse division.
  by mowingman
 
Sandy,
It is curious that they just walked away from the place. I wonder if there was any management-labor problems there? I also inspected an old cement plant and mine, in Ohio, where labor problems, among other things, led the owners to close the place. They just walked away from it, leaving probably a million dollars of mining equipment underground, abandoned. No effort to recover those assets, and the surface buildings just laying in ruins also.
Sure seems like a waste in both these situations.
  by Sandy
 
mowingman, i did hear something about labor/union problems years ago concerning Morton, maybe
it could of been one of the many reasons that that facilility was closed, to bad. Thanks for the info.
  by poppyl
 
BTW, most, if not all, of the underground equipment still remains in place in the mine. I believe that Morton wrote the mine off in the following two years after ceasing production.
  by scharnhorst
 
poppyl wrote:BTW, most, if not all, of the underground equipment still remains in place in the mine. I believe that Morton wrote the mine off in the following two years after ceasing production.

Every underground mining operation leaves the equipment in the mines when the equipment gets old/brakes down or when the mine simply closes down for one reason or another so why are you worrying about it?? These big companies got lots of money to piss away and get tax credits/brakes for it. I work for ITT/Goulds Pumps and they waste money like it grows on trees on all sorts of stupid * don't get fixed, replaced, and or dose not benefit the employees in anyway.
  by poppyl
 
Ain't worrying about the equipment. My worries stopped when the shafts were completed.
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