Thursday, February 17, 2011

"When it rains it pours" - The Mentor Headlands and Salt History

Salt Facts:
  • Ferdinand and Isabella sent Christopher Columbus in search of salt.
  • In 1777, The British captured the Lion's share of General Washington's all important salt supply.
  • Roman soldiers were paid in salt.  Trade routes were established to secure salt.  Empires fell when salt was lost.
  • In 1812, Napoleon's army lost thousands on the Russian Front when salt supplies became exhausted.
  • 15th c. Venice was a mecca of the spice world and salt its most desired commodity.
  • The Morton Salt Company first produces iodized salt in 1924 to use as a relief for goiter.
Travel down Rt. 44 North and a young girl in a yellow slicker greets you.  The slogan 'when it rains it pours' and that young girl in the yellow slicker were created in 1911.  Both first appeared on a blue container in 1914 and since 1959 this young girl and that famous slogan have called the Mentor Headlands home.  The Morton Salt Company began in 1848 in Chicago, Illinois.  Several mergers and a 1910 incorporation followed.  Within a hundred years, J. Sterling Morton's Salt Company had a hand in all companies that dotted the U.S. salt industry landscape.  In Cleveland history, the Union Salt Company that was located on East 65th and Lake Shore Blvd. in Cleveland from 1890-1944 had a Morton connection.  In 1957, The International Salt Company acquired Whiskey Island and by 1961 opened a salt mining operation.  Again, J. Sterling Morton had a presence. 

In Lake County, an area of Mentor known as The Headlands featured some stately homes but was mostly situated on a tract of land that was 40 percent marsh.  Until 1954 the Headlands did not have any important industry.  Then in 1954, '55, and '56 an unexpected industry acquired some 300 acres of land at the east end of the Headlands.  Another 36 acres were purchased in Painesville Township, with some Grand River frontage in Fairport Harbor.  With the development of superhighways in the 1950's it became necessary to develop another new use for salt.  After the test wells were drilled and the Fairport area salt bed extensions verified, a Morton Salt Plant opened up in 1959.  A 2000' mine became the country's deepest and most advanced salt extraction operation in the country.  Twelve concrete storage silos could hold 12,000 tons.  An open area could hold another 250,000 tons of salt.  The company generated $10-20 million in business.  J. Sterling Morton's cylindrical shaped container, an additive that made it pour when wet, and a little girl forever aged 9 to 11 had changed Lake County history.  

Today, The Morton Salt Company (purchased in 2009 and now part of a larger corporation) remains the leading marketer of salt for home, water conditioning, industrial, agricultural and highway use.  Morton Salt is now found in Canada and other countries worldwide.

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