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Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum

Exhibit 10


"California State Mining Bureau" - old reports filtered for Old Salt Lake data

  [ Selected text and photos transcribed ]



Caption: SALT WORKS, REDONDO, LOS ANGELES COUNTY.

1901 photo of Salt Works. Photo taken by Gilbert E. Bailey and published in his 1902 report "Saline Deposits of California", California State Mining Bureau, Bulletin No.24, (page 111). See more text and images from this Bailey report below.

Note: This photo looking west, the ocean is on the other side of the sand dune. On the dune, is a large iron tank - built some months prior, by Standard Oil Company for its oil-docking business right there. The oil storage tank sprung a leak on January 23, 1903 while at capacity. It emptied its 30,000 barrels "and flooded part of the town like a deluge from a water spout". [...] "The oil filled up every ravine and gulch in its path, and when the tank had been emptied of its contents the surrounding country looked as if it had been swept by a flood. In some places the oil was three and four feet deep." (LA Herald Jan. 24, 1903)



1890, "Lake Salinas, Los Angeles County", by E. B. Preston, Assistant in the Field, California State Mining Bureau, Report X, (p. 281), California Geological Survey Library:

[ Transcribed ]
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Lake Salinas

Within the town site of Redondo Beach is a small salt-water lake, about three hundred yards from the ocean, and about five feet above the high-water mark, that does not receive its water supply from the ocean, having an entirely different combination of salts, and has about it and its immediate surrounding features that make it of interest to the geologist and chemist.

The lake is about a half a mile long, and from four to six feet deep. At the south end is a large shallow basin connected by movable gates with the main lake, which is used for evaporating the water by the heat of the sun. The banks are low, gradually sloping up; a sand dune intervenes between the ocean and the lake; the bottom of the lake is a bed of clay. Around this lake on both sides, about thirty wells have been bored to an average depth of twelve feet into the clay that forms the bottom of the lake, and these all yield a good, soft drinking water. Between these sweet water wells next to the ocean, and the ocean itself, near the top of the dune a well has been sunk to a depth of twenty-six feet, which has passed through the clay for a distance of ten feet. The water obtained in this well is claimed as having medicinal qualities; it certainly tastes bad, if that is an criterion of its medicinal value.

The lake water is a much stronger solution of salts than the water from the open ocean, containing a very much greater proportion of chloride of magnesia; but the statement as made by the parties on the spot to the writer, that the water was ten times as saturated as the sea water, is evidently erroneous, as such a solution would pass the point of saturation. How to account for the presence of these different qualities of water in their relative positions, is not plainly to be seen. The salt water could be accounted for in several ways, as there are beds of saliferous shales and sandstones in the neighborhood; also, there are magnesian rocks on the flanks of the mountains surrounding the plain; but the fresh water in the wells surrounding the lake interferes, from the fact that these wells, terminating in the clay, compel the assumption that the water in them is drainage water from the near vicinity. To solve the question satisfactorily would require a closer investigation into the position of the different strata than the limited time at disposal afforded.

South of the town of Redondo Beach about three miles, the bluffs facing the ocean are composed largely of sandstones and shales, with a large bed of diatomaceous earth resting thereon; underlying these and running out to sea are beds of bituminous sandstones, showing natural bitumen in places. These continue in a southwesterly course out to sea as a reef for a distance of two and one half miles, at which point oil is seen coming to the top of the water in considerable quantities.



1902, Saline Deposits of California, by Gilbert E. Bailey, California State Mining Bureau, Bulletin No.24

[ Excerpt transcribed (page 122) ]
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Salt works were erected some years ago near Redondo, on a small lagoon about half a mile north of the town. The waters of this lagoon contain a strong brine, but the work of making salt was interrupted first by one misfortune, and then by another. The works were equipped with considerable machinery, that was taken down and removed in the fall of 1901; and the present operations are confined to vat work and solar evaporation on a small scale.

At the present time, this business has been suspended for at least ten years.

[ Photo (page 120) ]



[ Detail of map (folder in back of book) ]



1916, Mines and Mineral Resources of Los Angeles County

[ Excerpt transcribed (pages 51-53) ]
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SALT.

But one other salt manufacturing plant has been operating in this county. This was within the limits of Redondo Beach and was described as follows:

Lake Salinas, Redondo. In regard to this, Mr. E. B. Preston, writing in 1890, in Report X, p. 281, gave the follow description:

"Within the town site of Redondo Beach is a small salt-water lake, about three hundred yards from the ocean, and about five feet above the high-water mark, that does not receive its water supply from the ocean, having an entirely different combination of salts, and has about it and its immediate surrounding features that make it of interest to the geologist and chemist.

"The lake is about a half a mile long, and from four to six feet deep. At the south end is a large shallow basin connected by movable gates with the main lake, which is used for evaporating the water by the heat of the sun. The banks are low, gradually sloping up; a sand dune intervenes between the ocean and the lake; the bottom of the lake is a bed of clay. Around this lake on both sides, about thirty wells have been bored to an average depth of twelve feet into the clay that forms the bottom of the lake, and these all yield a good, soft drinking water. Between these sweet water wells next to the ocean, and the ocean itself, near the top of the dune a well has been sunk to a depth of twenty-six feet, which has passed through the clay for a distance of ten feet. The water obtained in this well is claimed as having medicinal qualities; it certainly tastes bad, if that is an criterion of its medicinal value.

"The lake water is a much stronger solution of salts than the water from the open ocean, containing a very much greater proportion of chloride of magnesia; but the statement as made by the parties on the spot to the writer, that the water was ten times as saturated as the sea water, is evidently erroneous, as such a solution would pass the point of saturation. How to account for the presence of these different qualities of water in their relative positions, is not plainly to be seen. The salt water could be accounted for in several ways, as there are beds of saliferous shales and sandstones in the neighborhood; also, there are magnesian rocks on the flanks of the mountains surrounding the plain; but the fresh water in the wells surrounding the lake interferes, from the fact that these wells, terminating in the clay, compel the assumption that the water in them is drainage water from the near vicinity. To solve the question satisfactorily would require a closer investigation into the position of the different strata than the limited time at disposal afforded."

Concerning this Salt Lake, Dr. Gilbert E. Bailey, in 1902, wrote in Bulletin No. 24, p. 122:

"Salt works were erected some years ago near Redondo, on a small lagoon about half a mile north of the town. The waters of this lagoon contain a strong brine, but the work of making salt was interrupted first by one misfortune, and then by another. The works were equipped with considerable machinery, that was taken down and removed in the fall of 1901; and the present operations are confined to vat work and solar evaporation on a small scale."

At the present time, this business has been suspended for at least ten years.



1958, "Salt In California", Division of Mines Bulletin 175

[ Excerpt transcribed (page 15) ]
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Salt Ponds. Preston (1890) has described an interesting salt pond that in the 1890's existed just north of Redondo Beach, and within 300 yards of the ocean. Lake Salinas, as the pond was called, has long ago been filled in. The pond was filled with a concentrated chloride brine having a much higher proportion of magnesium than sea water. Apparently no direct connection with the sea existed, for the bottom of the pond was composed of fresh-water-bearing clay, and the pond level was about 5 feet above the high tide mark. The pond appeared to have received only the drainage of the immediate area, and perhaps it's saline content was derived from salt spray.

In 1901 and 1902, a company attempted to develop salt brine near Oceanside and Carlsbad, San Diego County. According to G. E. Bailey (1902, p. 133), brine was obtained from wells sunk in old, nearly dry lagoons. It would be interesting to know if this brine was merely sea water that seeped in from the ocean, or was, like the brine of Lake Salinas, of unusual composition.
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