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Quirky Texas: Grand Saline’s Salt Palace & Salt Festival

Salt Palace in Grand Saline, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Salt Palace in Grand Saline, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Salt Palace in Grand Saline

The following is an adapted excerpt from my award winning travel guide, Unexpected Texas While the French equivalent of “window shopping” translates as “window licking” this is something that literally occurs every day at the Salt Palace in Grand Saline, Texas. The unusual building, which houses a visitor center and museum for the town and the nearby Morton Salt Company mine, is built entirely out of salt crystal bricks held together by a salt/mortar mixture. This strange combination proves tempting to many visitors who satisfy their curiosity by taking a tiny taste of its walls.

A Miniature Alamo

The building now standing is the third incarnation of this salty enterprise. The first “Salt Palace” (shack, would be a more accurate moniker) was a mock-up of The Alamo created for the 1936 Texas Centennial Celebration. Texas weather being what it is, the building eventually eroded.

The second incarnation of the Salt Palace was built in 1975 by local citizens in conjunction with the city’s first-ever Salt Festival. Heavy rain took its toll on Salt Palace number two, so in 1993 a third version was erected. This time, an aluminum overhang was added to protect the porous structure from the elements. It remains standing to this day.

Grand Saline’s Salt Festival

Grand Saline’s Salt Festival has become an annual event for Grand Saline, which the little town hosts on the second weekend each June.  The celebration often includes a luncheon, baking contests, a beauty pageant (there’s even a Salt Queen!), a classic car show, live music, and a talent show. To find out about this year’s Salt Fest visit the official Salt Festival Facebook page for details.

 

Salt Palace in Grand Saline, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Salt Palace in Grand Saline, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Salt from an Ancient Sea

Grand Saline has had a salt factory since 1839. During the Civil War the factory supplied the Confederacy with 500 pounds of salt per day. Around 1920, Morton Salt stepped in and the little girl with the yellow umbrella took over. Miners harvest salt from 750 feet below ground, remnants of an ancient sea that covered east Texas 250 million years ago. Grand Saline’s mines contain a large and high quality salt deposit. It’s been estimated to contain enough salt to supply the entire world for the next 20,000 years!

Excellent Little Museum

Unfortunately, tours of the nearby Morton Salt mines are no longer available due to safety regulations enacted in the 1960’s. Even so, the Salt Palace houses a museum which offers a movie showing mining production, mining artifacts and other historic memorabilia.

Famous Aviator from Grand Saline

Some of the museum’s exhibits are devoted to Wiley Post, the famed aviator who grew up on a farm in Grand Saline. Despite losing an eye in an oil field accident, Post went on to set two world records for flights around the world as well as being the first pilot to enter the stratosphere. Unfortunately, Post and legendary comedienne, Will Rogers, died together in a plane crash in Alaska in 1935.

Plan your trip to the Salt Palace:

Salt Palace Address: 100 W Garland St, Grand Saline, TX 75140
Salt Festival Information: official Salt Festival Facebook page

Want to read more?

To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best selling travel guide: Unexpected Texas.
For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best selling travel guide to haunted places: Paranormal Texas.
For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out: The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber. Happy travels!

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Tui Snider having fun on a Texas road trip!
Tui Snider having fun on a Texas road trip!

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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in quirky, haunted, and downright bizarre destinations. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider's writing and photography have been featured in a variety of publications, including Coast to Coast AM, FOX Travel News, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and more. Snider’s award-winning books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, and Unexpected Texas. Snider has several more books in progress, including a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols and a book about the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897. Tui has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. She enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website: TuiSnider.com.
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