What’s saltier than a Caribbean pirate? Crustier than a cartoon clown? More exciting than a mineral-titled Angelina Jolie movie? A cave practically made of salt, of course. And we just happen to have one of those right here in Utah … of course. Located in Sevier County, the Redmond Salt Mine puts out 50,000 pounds of sea salt every day. That’s a lot of sodium.
Clearly, Utahns know how to use salt. We put it on our fries, our popcorn, our roads. Redmond Salt Mine originally sold its crystals to the state for de-icing winter roads, and now some 28% of Utah’s annual supply comes from there. It’s considered a high-performing salt, thanks to its naturally high calcium and magnesium. That means it melts ice at 0 degrees, 20 degrees lower than other salts. Like it’s a natural or something.
Redmond also sells the salt to ranchers as a supplement for their livestock. Oh yeah, and we like to eat it, too. Although just a small fraction of the business, the sea salt is sold in many forms under the name Redmond Real Salt: fine salt, Kosher salt, coarse salt, powder salt, salt crystals and smoked salt. Is your mouth watering yet? Indeed, the all-natural food salt is popular among chefs and bakers around the world.
You know that movie version of miners? Sweaty, muscly, dusty dudes swinging pickaxes? Yeah, it’s nothing like that. In the food-grade veins of the mine, the salt is removed with a hydraulic, stainless steel rotary tool. There aren’t any grimy wheelbarrows, either. The crystals are transported to a mill in a food-grade lined truck. The mill itself is made of stainless steel. Once there, the salt is ground down but otherwise, there’s no processing. What you mine is what you get.
The salt is harvested year-round. If you stop by for a tour, you may see piles of the stuff just outside the mine. That’s the road stuff. The kind you eat gets much better treatment.
Redmond Salt Mine founders, brothers Lamar and Milo Bosshart, originally grew corn on their property in the early 1950s. But hard times forced them to consider a more profitable way to feed their families. They knew salt had been harvested on their land once upon a time by Native Americans, and guessed there might still be some underneath the soil. They were not wrong. Using picks and sledgehammers, the brothers dug a little deeper and discovered salt. A whole lot of it.
They eventually purchased land from neighbors, giving them access to an entire cavern of salt. Discovered just 30 feet down from where they started, it was perfectly preserved under a layer of bentonite clay. The walls, the floor, the ceiling … pure salt.
And because it’s been protected from the elements — natural and manmade — the salt is pure. Like, chip a chunk off the wall and eat it pure. Although, it’d probably be better to grind it up and moderately shake it onto your fresh catch from Fish Lake. For now, the mine is about 900 feet underground, but geologists think the deposit may extend thousands of feet into the Earth.
Although the Redmond Real Salt Mine is an underground cavern now, it’s actually an ancient seabed. Geologists suggest that salt from the Sundance Sea settled to the bottom, as it does, and was encased by prehistoric volcanic activity. Oh, and while that Sundance is no relation to Mr. Redford, you can visit Butch Cassidy’s hometown of Circleville, just one county south.
Check out the Redmond Salt Mine yourself. Tours are offered once a month for guests age 8 and older. You’ll walk through a maze of dark tunnels — although there are some lights so you can look around. If you’re claustrophobic, be aware you’ll be going 500 feet below the surface. However, the tunnels are large enough for 60-ton haul trucks, so it won’t be a tight fit. There is a $10 per person fee, which goes toward the Redmond Scholarship Fund to support local high school students. Kinda sweet.
Sign up online — openings are available first come first served. You’ll be required to wear closed-toe shoes and a hard hat, so be warned if helmet hair is something you worry about. Not that the locals would mind. It’s practically a fashion trend when you’re smack dab in the middle of ATV Country.
Need something to counter all that salt? Make your next stop Big Rock Candy Mountain, just south of Richfield. Search for loads of other interesting things to do in Sevier County — rafting, biking, camping — right here on Utah.com.
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