In West Africa during the Medieval period, salt was traded for gold. Salt is easily available today but that was not the case in ancient times. In the past, salt was difficult to obtain in certain parts of the world. Areas producing salt had a valuable trade advantage. In Medieval West Africa, salt led to the development of trade routes. Those routes became the real value in time (more valuable than salt).

Prior to the advent of refrigeration, meat and vegetables were salted so that they could be eaten at a later date.

During the Roman period, some soldiers were paid in salarium argentum, or salt money, from which the English word ‘salary’ is derived. Due to the high value of salt, an ancient Roman proverb said that people who did their job well were “worth their salt.” (Or “worth their weight in salt.”)

The oldest known salt production site is located in the city of Provadia, Bulgaria. It is also believed to be one of the oldest cities in Europe. The site, now called Solnitsata, was settled about 4,500 BC. Researchers believe that the small town supplied all the Balkans with their salt.

Around the 5th century AD, the use of camels allowed Berber-speaking peoples to cross the Sahara Desert. By the 8th century AD, trade was flowing between the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of West Africa, as caravans traveled between the two on an annual basis. In sub-Saharan West Africa, gold was abundant, and this was exchanged for salt brought by caravans arriving from the north.

The salt transported by these caravans was obtained from salt mines in the Sahara Desert. In certain areas, such as Taghaza and Taoudenni, salt deposits can be found not far beneath the surface of the desert. Mining operations were set up in such areas and slaves were brought in to work there. Salt mining never enjoyed much of a reputation among slaves…

Much later in history, salt was mined in Death Valley, California.


Looking for a White Elephant Gift for a Holiday Party?

Available wherever unicorn meat is sold.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon



Churchill MkIII with a 300mm ‘Ardeer Aggie’ recoilless gun. It fired a 29kg HE projectile farther than the AVRE’s 290mm spigot mortar did, some 450 yards (411 meters). Of course, to fling such a shell so far, you need some serious charge. A LOT of gunpowder – much more than the gun would normally allow.

The British invented a unique solution. In order to improve the gun’s recoilless effect, they did put a “counterweight” behind the charge itself; in this case 29kg of sandbags. When the gun fired, the sandbags would eject violently out of the rear of the turret to the detriment of anyone behind the vehicle, compensating for the majority of recoil, bringing the amount of charge needed to more manageable quantities. Needless to say, this was NOT a popular solution with the crew.

This started as a “mystery tank” but I decided to spare you this time.


Identify the Weapons

They are slung beneath this B-17G Flying Fortress





Charlie Didn’t Surf


  1. There is a large salt deposit at Hutchinson Kansas. They have been mining it for 98 years. The availability of cheap rock salt for icy roads has been the death of many cars and trucks in my area. The mined out sections have become a climate controlled storage area for many treasures, including the masters of many movies. Hopefully the filth from Hollywood doesn’t taint the salt!

    • It is also a tourist attraction with tours. I passed up the opportunity not caring to be 600+ feet underground.

        • Engineers are fearless when paid for the risk. As a lad I was inside several mines in the Breckenridge, CO area and didn’t especially enjoy the experience. Locating WWII era mines in the mid 60’s wasn’t fun. The good part was we weren’t under fire or time pressures. Our equipment was the same vintage as the crap we were locating, only not as rusted.

    • Oh yes. Hutchinson, the so-called “salt city”. Site of unrestricted salt mining for many years, many abandoned and unrecorded. A mixture of underground mining and solution mining were used, and still are, by such as Cargill, Morton and others. There is an area west of town where caverns formed by solution mining are used for storage of propane and natural gas.

      There is, of course, a drawback to every system. And thus it was that about 20 years ago, one of the caverns got a leak in it’s casing and the gas moved thru rock formations east to town, found the abandoned piping and proceeded to blow part of Hutchinson to Mars. Some fatalities, in a trailer park on the east side of town where some of the abandoned mines were located. Downtown took a hit as well; one of the buildings had originally been a hotel with a mineral/salt bath that was another path for the gas. It go foom in a most convincing fashion. Gas company ran around for months with sniffers looking for more leaks and drilled relief wells to vent the gas which they burned off. Everything is fine now. Until next time, of course. As Paul Harvey used to say, stand by for news!

  2. Conflicts over salt happened in this country as well. The El Paso Salt War comes to mind. Not a shining moment for the rangers.

  3. God made a salt covenant with the people of Israel, clearly an important “mineral” for millennia. (As I stare at the salt shaker on the counter with complete indifference.)

    • Loki’s Fire is complete and should be out before December 1. The Wolf God, book 3 in the series should be available early in 2022

  4. and wiktionary traces the word cellar (as in salt cellar) from:
    “15th Century English saler, from French salière, from Latin salarius (“relating to salt”), from Latin sal (“salt”)”

  5. You’ve got me stumped hard on the weapons. They look like some kid of guided bomb, but it isn’t any of the ones I know like BAT or AZON…

    Looks sorta like a fritz-X with an annular wing.


  6. Detroit sits over a huge Morton Salt cavern.
    There are trucks taken down there decades ago, piece by piece and assembled never to come to the surface again.
    Rebuilt and maintained, they don’t rust regardless of how the salt they put on our roads rusts out our vehicles topside.
    As a child i would sit on the lawn and occasionally feel the ground rumble from a detonation beneath me.

  7. I’ve been in a couple of coal mines, but never a salt mine. The Polish turned some of theirs into cathedrals so the miners could pray before and after their shifts.

    The weapon is a VB-10 Television-Guided glide bomb. Never got out of the testing phase, but like many weapons development programs, valuable things were learned.

  8. The map of counties by majority racial group is interesting but must be taken with, er, a grain of salt. Color coded by majority means a county say 40% white, 30% Black (note proper capitalizations per AP style guide) and 30% misc (i.e. Latinx and Asian; note correct use of totally made up bullshit gender-neutral “Latinx”) gets coded as “white”.

    This matters because the usual suspects will point to this sort of map as proof (Proof!) of continued white hegemony in the US. But a mixture of 40% vanilla ice cream, 30% used motor oil, and 30% salsa and soy sauce is no longer vanilla ice cream.

  9. And so we come to the Raj. The loyal Jemadar “took the salt” and rode against the Hun under the banner of Britannia. To be honest, I’ve always wondered at the rightness of deploying Indian troops to the Western Front, then again, any troops.

    Any post with Churchill in it is a good post.

Comments are closed.