Road salt takes long trip to get to Clark County


Creeping behind the salt truck once, I had considerable time for contemplation.

I was thinking about the journey those little translucent crystals made just to give my tires a better grip.

Believe it or not, the thought actually made me a bit warmer.

The source of much of our road salt is not those piles of salt behind the township buildings. Nope, it just doesn’t magically appear there each summer. It is hauled in from a central location near Delaware.

RELATED: Clark, Champaign road crews gear up for winter weather

Most of that salt, I’ve learned, is transported there by train from salt mines under Lake Erie. These deposits near Cleveland are the remnants of warm tropical seas that evaporated millions of years ago.

It is not every day that I get to use the words “warm” and “tropical” and “Cleveland” in the same sentence.

Salt stockpiles for state and local road crews closer to the Ohio River are brought in by barges. Huge long flat barges drop off their cargo in Cincinnati then return south for another load.

They go down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River. Just past the New Orleans, they pull up to docks on Avery Island, Louisiana.

Huge cavernous salt mines on Avery Island are the source some of southern Ohio’s salt. It is also the source of the salt in most Tabasco sauces. Look at the label and you will see, “Avery Island.”

That salt, just like the salt under Lake Erie, was evaporated from warm tropical seas and deposited in layers hundreds of feet thick. We modern folks dig it up for all sorts of things.

So when you are driving down Gerlaugh Road, Fairfield Pike or I-675 and you get stuck behind any of the local, county or state salt trucks, calm down. Watch the salt spreader and think of those bouncing pellets as little bits of warm tropical seas melting the ice.

Or you can think of the salt crystals as Mardi Gras confetti from New Orleans. Or maybe it is Avery Island Tabasco so hot it melts ice.

There now don’t you feel a bit warmer, too?



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