tv American History TV CSPAN November 21, 2015 11:45am-12:01pm EST
and his ongoing, some would say. the work of the museum focuses heavily on the personal story. it is my job to help bring that personal story to the public. you can read numbers all day long. 16 million americans served in world war ii. but who were these americans? who were these people? how can i identify with him today? how can i make my neighbor identify with this experience? and to make that experience, --, live -- to make that experience come alive is really important to me. and to the institution. >> all weekend long american history tv is joining our cable partners to showcase the history of syracuse new york. to learn more, visit c-span.org/citiestour.
we continue with our look at the history of syracuse. dennis we are -- dennis: we are standing in a reconstruction of a 19th century salt boiling block. it was used to reconstruct sold for over 100 years. this reconstruction was done in 1930 as part of a public works project during the great depression. this area was very important throughout the. period because it was the center of the uruguay -- iroquois confederacy.
these soldiers were the first to notice the salt mines, and that was noted from very early on in the colonial period. it did not get a chance to be commercially exploited until really after the american revolution. a variety of treaties concentrated the land to territories south of the lake. the state took ownership of the shore around the lake so that it could be developed commercially forestalled production -- for salt production. the state-controlled the land ,hrough the drilling of wells but that manufacturing was actually in the hands of private individuals. it started in the 1790's and into the early 19th century. the biggest problem that they had was transportation, getting
it out to market. it would eventually lead to the completion and construction of the erie canal, salt being a major driver of that. the people who were involved canals existed, they were in britain and other places. they realized the canal would be a real boon to the salt industry. a man named joshua foreman who was from syracuse and represented the area in the state legislature introduced a resolution calling for a survey of the potential of this cannot -- canal. .t was over 360 miles this eventually led to a survey being done by a man who was also from central new york. the foreman even want to see thomas jefferson and takes this idea of a canal all across the states. he thought for sure that he could get the federal government to fund it, but jefferson of all people said that is a crazy idea.
that is never going to happen. foreman and some of the others said well, if the federal government won't do it we look at the state to do it. they went to governor dewitt and could -- push through the construction of the canal. syracuse really owes its existence to the salt industry. downtown syracuse was not a particularly attractive place. it was kind of low and sloppy. a place that someone would normally pick to create a settlement. but the salt was a valuable commodity, and that is what really drew a lot of the initial settlement in this area. it was what generated the initial wealth. we now have people that have enough money to contribute to building a church. the people that are working in the salt industry, or the tavern.
and so you get other things setting off in that industry economically. it was something that we refer to as the related industries. if you are producing at peak years eight or 9 million bushels of salt, that has to be pushed -- packed in something for shipment. they would need thousands of barrels made. there were a lot of barrel making false set up. barrele were a lot of making shots set up. over time it gave syracuse this really unique identity. sometimes it is hard to imagine why a whole industry would be built around manufacturing salt and why so much salt would be needed. people today tend to think well, i have a full figure -- salt shaker on my kitchen counter but i can take a pound of salt and it will left me for a year. why will be -- why were people
buying somersault? the lackry reason is of refrigeration. if you have got -- people ate a lot of meat less -- back then. they'd port, meat, fish. it does not last very long unless you have something to preserve it in. example ofthe best that. if somebody said what is the peak year for manufacturing salt? when was the most salt made? is 1862, when over 9 million bushels of salt are produced. what was going on in 1862? that was the middle of the civil war. you had the union army that needed huge quantities of preserved food for their soldiers. salt pork is one of the basic commodities. so the federal government was ordering huge quantities of salt from the reservation during the
war, and in fact if you look closely at the civil war you will see that salt actually became a military strategy. not only did the union needs all for its troops, so to the confederacy. of course the confederacy was not going to get salt from northern manufacturers so they had to try to get it from their own sources. general grant and others knew right off the bat that if we can cut off the supply to salt to the southern forces, that is going to be a major detriment to their supply. there are a few salt places that existed in the south that were regularly attacked by union forces. blockeration of a boiling was really great music. there was a large cistern, a wooden cistern, just outside that held the supply of brine. brine intolet the
the kettles through a system of pipes. the pipes ran down through the middle of the block. it was usually a row of big kettles on either side. over each kettle there was a wooden spigot that allowed the brine to flow into individual kettles. when they wanted to stop the flow they would use these wooden plugs to fit it into the opening at the end. logs were that the made out of wood -- or the piping system was made out of what -- wood, was because the salt water was very corrosive. if they were using iron pipe eventually those types would rust and thed impurities would get into the water. they tended to use logotypes throughout the process -- log
pipes throughout the process. once the brine was left into the et into the kettles, and theould be started, pleas would be -- flews would be closed. it created quite a bit of draft to aid in the process so that the boiling would be consistent from kettle to cuddle. heavier, bigger kettles were down closer to the pit. as he went down the kettles got a little thinner and a little smaller so that as the heat dissipated the boiling could stay consistent throughout the .oiling box -- blocks once they fired it up they kept it going for 24 hours or more straight.
they really needed to build that heat up and to make the most efficient use of the fuel and the heat, they kept that boiling going as long as they could. eventually a couple of things had to take place. the brine was not pure. there were some impurities in there, iron oxide and other things setting -- things that occur naturally. those impurities tended to settle to the bottom of the panle and they would use a andift out the impurities sort of throw them away. the remaining brine that was , those impurities which tended to discolor the salt were removed. eventually as the boiling process continued there would be -- some crystals with literary start -- literally start to form on the surface of the water. they would scoop the salt
crystals out and dump them into baskets. each kettle had a basket that was suspended over it, is the salt was still kind of moist and a little drippy and wet. the mesh in the baskets allowed the excess moisture to drain back into the kettle. eventually you would get a basket that would be mounded up with salt. they were still at that point someone damp, so the worker would take the basket and throw it in the beds on the side that lined the salt block all the way down. probably for a period of another two weeks, that salt would sit continuing to dry out and get rid of any excess moisture. as you can imagine, this was particularly hot work, because you are talking about a 300 or 400 gallon kettle of boiling
brine. multiply that by 50 times inside this particular building. there is a victorian description of a visit to a salt boiling flowerynd in the very taurean language the writer talks about how it was sort of like another world they were entering. they would come in here and it would be filled with steam. the men would be working, , and visionsrtless of dante's inferno were somewhat the associations that these writers would make about what it was like to be inside of a salt boiling block. the main way of producing salt early on was the boiling method, and that stayed in existence for many years. but early on the salt manufacturers in the syracuse area decided to look at other methods of producing salt that they knew existed.
this is basically sort of a model of that process, referred to as the solar evaporation process. eventually they work their way into these more shallow solar evaporation sheds where the formation of salt crystals would take place. there were literally thousands of these scattered around the southern shore. once the brine got into this level it was supersaturated in terms of the amount of salt content. with the sun shining on it and the breeze is blowing across it, that expedited the evaporation process and eventually salt crystals would start to form. one of the things about the solar sheds is that i have these individual rooms that can be -- roofs that can be rolled over the top. that was a practical consideration art from the technology on cape cod.
if you were devoting a couple of weeks of time to let the salt evaporate, obviously the last thing that you wanted to have happen with a rainstorm, because that was going to dilute your brine. you are going to lose the evaporation process that had been occurring, and you would have to start all over. museum canting this learn a process of how salt was made in 19th-century, which is kind of an interesting lesson in terms of technology and how it worked, and how basic it was at that particular time. , it explainsink people the impact that natural resources can have on economic development and the creation of a community. in other cities there are other natural resources that have driven the creation of those cities. this is part of what created syracuse.
announcer: throughout the tv"end, "american history is featuring suri cruise, new york -- syracuse, new york. when about other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. announcer: "american history tv" is featuring c-span's original series, "first ladies," at 8:00 p.m. eastern sunday nights throughout the rest of the year. through conversations with experts, video tours, and questions from the c-span audience, we tell stories of america's 45 first lads.