The Origins of the “Salt City”

Syracuse earned the nickname of “Salt City” because of its salt mines.


Fact:  Syracuse never had salt mines; rather, Syracuse’s prosperous salt industry was due to its salt springs.  These salt springs were mainly located on the southern end of Onondaga Lake.  The salty brine was processed in two ways, solar evaporation and boiling.  In the solar evaporation method, the salt water was pumped into large, shallow vats and exposed to the sun for a few weeks, but they had to be covered whenever it rained.  As the water evaporated, salt was raked up and then packaged for shipping.  This process produced coarse salt.   The boiling method produced fine salt.  In this process, the salt water was pumped into a salt block and boiled in large cauldrons that were heated from beneath.  As the water boiled off, the remaining salt was scooped out and made ready for shipping.  Syracuse was a top salt producer in the country for much of the 19th century.

Learn more about the Syracuse salt industry in one of our newly produced Historic Onondaga Creekwalk videos below: