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Van Zandt County TX
Van Zandt County

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Suggested slogan:
So many salt jokes; so little time

Van Zandt County, Central Texas North

3240'40"N 9542'41"W (32.677662, -95.711521)

Intersection of TX Hwy 110 & U.S. Hwy 80, and FM17
75 miles E of Dallas
14 miles E of Mineola
35 miles NW of Tyler
11 miles NE of Canton the county seat
ZIP code 75140
Population: 3,173 Est. (2019)
3,136 (2010) 3,028 (2000) 2,630 (1990)

Book Hotel Here Canton Hotels

Grand Saline, Texas - street scene, 1907
Street Scene, Grand Saline, Texas, postmarked 1907
Postcard courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

Historical Marker: Kleer Park, at intersection of US 80 & FM 857

Grand Saline, C.S.A.

The large saline deposit was a major source of salt in Texas during the Civil War. Salt was first obtained by the Indians. In 1854, works were built. Sam Richardson, the owner in 1861, went to war and left his wife to run the works until the Confederate government took over production. Because salt was considered a strategic industry, salt workers were exempt from army service for a time and many wells were sunk to obtain the more than 10,000 pounds of salt made daily for the civilians and army west of the Mississippi River. Mule-powered pumps drew the brine from the wells. Gum logs, hollowed out and pinned together formed a pipeline to huge iron evaporating kettles. Salt was then sacked, purchased and hauled away on horseback, in wagons and oxcarts.

During the Civil War, the demand for salt, the only known way to preserve meat, increased to supply the Southern army. Meat was salted, smoked and then packed in salt for the long, hot trips to army camps. Horses and mules used by cavalry, artillery, and quartermaster units required the vital mineral, too. Salt also preserved hides for making shoes, harnesses and saddles. When the Confederate government levied a meat tithe on farmers, the demand for salt increased and often cattle and cotton were exchanged for salt which itself became a medium of exchange. When salt became scarce, women dug up smokehouse floors to extract salt from the soil. Other Civil War salt works were operated along the coast and in other East, Central and West Texas counties.
Erected by the State of Texas 1964

Grand Saline, Texas

"Is this Chicken Fried Steak salty, or is it my imagination?"
"It must be your imagination, my Chicken Fried Steak is fine.

The Salt Palace and Grand Saline's Salt Festival

One of Texas' more unusual structures is The Salt Palace at the intersection of Hwys 110 and 80. This modern building , constructed entirely of salt blocks replaces a more modest cube that was built in 1977 for Grand Saline's Salt Festival. Call 903-962-5631 for information.

Sprays and cooling pond, Morton Salt Co., Grand Saline, Texas
Sprays and Cooling Pond, Morton Salt Co. Grand Saline, Texas
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

Grand Saline Salt Company / Morton Salt
The Salt mining operation was known as the Grand Saline Salt Company before it evolved into Morton Salt. But before the little girl with the umbrella, there were Indians (without umbrellas). The Cherokees had barely gotten comfortable in Texas and had hardly used any of the salt, when they were driven out of Texas* by the anti-Indian policies of Mirabeau Lamar. During the Civil War, the salt was essential to the war effort as a preservative and for tanning leather. It's mining was considered a vital industry.

(*Chief Bowles of the Cherokees was killed in the fight that resulted in the Cherokees leaving Texas. A marker tells the story at a roadside park just East of Colfax. This occurred in 1839.)

Grand Saline street scene, Texas
Grand Saline street scene
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com

Molton Salt Co., Salt Mine in Grand Saline, Texas
Molton Salt Co., Salt Mine in Grand Saline, Texas
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com

The Bad News : No Salt Mine Tours
The Good News : We won't run out of salt in your lifetime.

The mining operations just a mile south of The Salt Palace, reach a depth of 700 feet and extend over a 60 acre area, so we're told. They stopped giving tours a long time ago, so you'll have to take our word.

A film tour of the mine is given in the Salt Palace Museum. According to a Van Zandt Co. historical marker: 5 tons of salt was mined each day and that was before the civil war. In 1982 they mined 400,000 tons. The salt found here can supply the world's craving for the next 20,000 years. After that, we'll need to find a substitute.

Salt Deposit in Grand Saline › Cartoon by Roger T. Moore:

Texas Short Line Railway, Grand Saline Texas
Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007
See Texas Railroads

Other attractions include the restored Texas and Pacific Depot, now used as a city library and for civic meetings. 201 E. Pacific Street Hours: Tuesday through Friday 9 to 5.

Gibson building, Grand Saline Texas
Gibson Building
Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007

Rexall Drugs  neon sign, Grand Saline Texas
Rexall Drugs old neon
Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007
More Old Neons

Grand Saline TX Bull Durham Ghost Sign
Bull Durham Ghost Sign
Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007
More Ghost Signs

Coca Cola ghost sign, Grand Saline Texas
Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007
See Coca-Cola | Ghost Signs

Native Son - Wiley Post
Grand Saline is also the birthplace of famous aviator Wiley Post. Post, who lost an eye in an oil field accident, didn't let his handicap stop him from winning speed and endurance flying records in the 20s and 30s. He was the first to fly (in an experimental pressurized suit) into the stratosphere. Will Rodgers, who was one of aviation's most ardent cheerleaders, chose Post to pilot him on an around the world flight. They died at the beginning of their trip close to Point Barrow, Alaska in August of 1935.

The Grand Saline Concert Band
Old postcard

History Cartoon by Roger T. Moore:
Salt Deposit in Grand Saline

Take a road trip

Central Texas North

Grand Saline, Texas Nearby Towns:
Canton the county seat

See Van Zandt County

Book Hotel Here:
Canton Hotels | More Hotels
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