N 29° 48.484’ W 091° 32.246’
ST. MARY PARISH
The Franklin Visitor Center & Rest Area, part of the Cajun Coast Welcome Center, is home to a small bayouside park and a granite memorial which honors the memory of salt miners who perished at Belle Isle Salt Mine on two occasions in the 20th Century.
On March 5, 1968, a fire broke out in the Belle Isle Salt Mine in St. Mary Parish. Twenty-one men were trapped 1200 feet underground with their only escape engulfed in flames. Coal miners from Kentucky flew in to help with the attempted rescue. It was not to be. This memorial is dedicated to these twenty-one men who lost their lives, to the rescue men who risked their lives, to the other miners who died at Belle Isle and to all the families who suffered the loss.
Belle Isle Point, located at N 29° 31.553′, W 091° 24.308′ in Atchafalaya Bay where the mine is located, is 21 miles SSE from the Cajun Coast Center’s memorial. Belle Isle was one of the first places in Louisiana to be explored for gas and oil.
Cargill, Inc. was the operator of the perilous operation. They suffered another loss-of-life incident in June of 1979 when a scheduled blast went wrong. Five men were killed in the accident.
Starting in the early 1940s, Belle Isle was one of the first sites in Louisiana for oil drilling. The Belle Isle Field was once one of the largest oil and gas fields in Louisiana.
In 1962 Cargill Inc. started the Belle Isle salt mine at 1,200 ft below sea level, and the mine was a little over one-half mile in diameter when it was abandoned and purposely flooded in 1985. At that time, two deeper levels were just being developed.
Mineral exploration has always been a hazardous enterprise. In Louisiana’s salt-dome rich marsh, rescue attempts have always been doubly so.
The Cajun Coast Welcome Center pays tribute and honors the memory of the men who died enriching our economy.
Nearest Geocache Listing: GC2KNG5.
This Tag is growing. See our overview of geoLa Waypoints here.