There are currently two operating room-and-pillar salt mines in New York, but the state’s history of underground salt mining involves eight sites. Salt mining has historically occurred at three different levels (B, D and F salts) within the bedded, but structurally deformed, Silurian Salina Group.
The earliest mines were developed within the Salina B salt in the Western New York Salt District (first developed as a solution-mining center the late 1870s). The first room-and-pillar salt mine at Retsof, Livingston County, went into operation in 1885. The near-by competing Greigsville Mine started in 1890. The Lehigh (1892), Livonia (1892) and Sterling (1907) mines soon followed. All but the Livonia Mine extracted from the Salina B; the Salina D salt was mined at Livonia. The Retsof Mine bought out its late nineteenth and early twentieth century competitors in the Western New York Salt District and ultimately grew to be the largest salt mine in the western hemisphere before succumbing to groundwater inflow in 1995.
The first shaft of the still active Cayuga Salt Mine in Lansing, Tompkins County, was sunk during 1917-1918; production started around 1921. The Cayuga Mine is noteworthy in having three different production levels (D Salt, Lower and Upper F Salt) within the Salina Group. The Cayuga Mine is the deepest and easternmost room-and-pillar salt mine developed in the United States.
The Himrod Mine started operations in 1971, mining at the F Salt level. Low salt prices, geologic complexity, and environmental issues contributed to the closure of the mine by 1976.
The Hampton Corners Mine is the newest salt mine in North America. The Hampton Corners Mine started development in 1998 and started producing salt from the Salina B by 2002.
Speaker Bio: William Goodman, Ph.D. - RESPEC Consulting
Dr. Bill Goodman is presently Manager of Geology and Field Services for RESPEC, Inc, a Rapid City, SD-based firm that specializes in providing consulting services to salt mining and energy storage and transmission companies. Bill has been with RESPEC since 2004. Prior to that Bill worked for 11 years at Rochester-based Sear-Brown (now Stantec) as a hydrogeologist specializing in solid and hazardous waste and salt mining investigations, regulatory compliance and monitoring. He has been a geological consultant for over 30 years.