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Front Porch: Spring 2014

 

continued

As soon as his suspicion was confirmed, Peters contacted Saline historian Bob Lane. The two men began working together, Peters researching the salt springs' prehistory and Lane putting the more recent Saline history in context.

Peters' research revealed that Saline's salt springs are part of an ancient sea bed formed about 600 million years ago, which extended from present-day New Jersey to Wisconsin. (Detroit's salt mines are part of the same system.) When the last Ice Age was over, about 12,000 years ago, animals and people began moving into this area. Prehistoric animals came to drink at the salt springs. Remains of mastodons and mammoths have been found nearby.

Native Americans followed, drawn by the good hunting and because they too liked the salt. Their remains have also been found. According to the 1881 History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, "Early seekers for relics did not hesitate to open shallow graves and the ground was strewn with the bones of departed warriors." Lane has identified the location of two Indian burial mounds near the salt springs. One has been leveled for the Crestwood subdivision-people remember finding bones and relics at the time it was being built in the 1960s. A hill west of the DNR Fisheries Research Station is believed to be the other. The most recent Indian residents, the Potawatomi, who came to this area in the sixteenth century, used six footpaths, still visible, that converge at the springs. They were known to trade salt with neighboring tribes.

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