Monday, April 22, 2019

Salt Mining in Bavaria


The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

By Colin Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Salt Mining in Bavaria
Genre: Fiction – Brotherly Love
(389 words)

Herman started at the mine in early spring. He had taken the old buckboard to check out job openings and got hired on the spot. I didn’t follow until after harvest season on the farm.
“With me starting earlier, Baldwin,” he told me, “you have to work hard to catch up.”
The mine that hired us wasn’t as large as Salzbergwerk Dürrnberg. But the job still took some getting used to. Before heading underground, we pulled on coveralls and adjusted helmets on our heads for safety. Someone made roll call before each shift.
The most fun was getting to the work area. We sailed on a saddlecloth cushion down a track, like a backyard slide. Once underground, we placed magnetic markers by our names to show accounting. We removed the markers at end of shift. Miners who forgot were docked pay.
Our shifts went Monday morning to noon Saturday. The job didn’t take much thought, just lots of muscle chiseling away at salt walls. The chiseled salt was hauled to the solution chamber where it got turned into brine. Finally, it was processed at the Sudhäuser, a salt house in town.
Forklifts and other machinery did much of the heavy work. Neither of us knew how to operate them, having used only work horses on the farm. Herman complained about not being allowed to run the machines but I was content chipping salt.
After three years, Herman grew bored and requested a change. Soon we were both promoted to the Sudhäuser. The job was still exhausting, but we received more pay. With most expenses covered, we sent half our money back to the farm.
A riveted-metal salt pan shaped like a horseshoe hung from the ceiling of the salt house, supported by brick columns. We heated brine in that pan until the water evaporated and the white salt turned to crystals. Every couple of hours, we emptied the salt into huge cone-shaped holders and packed it down to form plugs. Someone else dragged the plugs to baking ovens for drying.
We spent six years in the Sudhäuser before Herman declared Bavaria’s economy would never improve. He wanted to experience more from life. He always knew when to move on. Soon we were sailing the Atlantic toward the new world.
I sure was grateful Herman always let me tag along.


1 comment:

  1. I found the process of salt mining, fascinating. Long, tedious work. It's also interesting that "back in the day" family members often worked together. Now, individualism and the luxury of technology and transportation fling family members far from one another, only to be joined by video chats and text messages. I haven't spoken to my sister in about 5 years. Distance makes that time span comfortable. Sleep Hygiene to Avoid Burnout


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