Salt Is Big Business In WNY
With this year’s brutal winter Buffalo area towns and villages are using much more rock salt than they have in the last couple of winters combined. Many are three or four times over what they had budgeted for salt, but they have no choice. Luckily the largest salt mine in the United States is about an hour’s drive away. American Rock Salt has been operating since 1997 right off Interstate 390 just outside of Geneseo in Livingston County. They’re able to produce 18-thousand tons of rock salt every day and with orders coming in from all over the country the mine is operating seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
American Rock Salt is the first underground salt mine built in the United States in 40 years and because all of their screening and crushing operations are underground it prevents dust and salt particles from reaching the surface.
Wyoming and Livingston Counties have large areas of underground salt deposits and back in the late 1800’s there were 35 salt mining companies. Many of the workers came directly from Europe. The towns of Retsof, Cuylerville and Greigsville were all salt mining towns. Retsof was known as Little Italy because so many Italians moved there directly from Europe. The company built stores where they could get all of their groceries especially for Italian meals.
Many of the salt mines stretched underground for miles but in 1994 those mines were shut down because of flooding.
American Rock Salt opened three years later, 10 miles away. When trucks arrive on the grounds they’re usually there for not more than a half hour even during their busiest times of year. It takes about a minute to fill a truck with salt.
The company has about 200 employees.