Bahia Salinas

Tags: Bahia Salinas, Baja, Isla Carmen, Mexico

Date: April 20, 2024

Next stop was Bahía Salinas, the Salt Mine Bay, which is very appropriately named since there used to be salt production here. Actually, the salt does not come out of a mine, but is produced by evaporation of the water in large basins filled with sea water. The hot, dry climate around the Sea of Cortez makes this quite an efficient process and the naturally formed basins behind Bahía Salinas makes it even easier.

Salt production at Bahía Salinas on Isla del Carmen has a long history: In 1717 Juan María Salvatierra, who also founded the town of Loreto, got permission from the King of Spain to start a salt extraction operation at Bahía Salinas. The King of Spain was of course also the King of New Spain, comprising all the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The salt is pure enough to not need any purification before its consumption. The salt production grew, and in 1867 the "mine" had produced a total of 35,000 tons of salt. In the 1880's, machinery was introduced, and rail tracks were built as well as a dock for shipping the salt out. In 1890 the salt prices fell and Bahía Salinas became less profitable. The mine changed hands several times over the next many years until finally in 1984 the salt production ended.

Some of the buildings are still standing:

A old pickup truck is used to tie up a temporary dock on the beach (attached to the other end of the rope):

Most of Isla del Carmen is privately owned and the old salt works are now used as a hunting lodge, where hunters can book a stay to hunt wild sheep that live on the island. The lodgings of the hunters and the staff are buildings from the time of the salt extraction that have been restored. Apparently they are expanding and we saw several ruins that were in the process of being restored:

A large piece of old equipment from the later days of the salt operation:

An old rail trolley:

The small building in the far back is one of the ones that are now being used as a hunting lodge:

Here is the old office:

At the height of the salt production, enough people lived on the island to make is necessary to build a church:

The church has been beautifully restored (it looks to be quite recent) inside and out. The door was not locked so we had a look inside:

Then we walked inland a bit to get to the salt pond. There was a dirt road we could follow for about 1 km:

Some old equipment at the shore of the salt pond, completely encrusted in salt:

The salt pond looks blue like a swimming pool because of the white salt precipitate on the bottom. Every rock and stick on the shore is covered in a thick layer of salt:

A few small birds running along the water's edge:

Looking in towards the middle of the salt pond:

Looking the other way towards the beach and salt works buildings: