Naturally Carbonated Water

Naturally Carbonated Water: Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho

If you like drinking carbonated water as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear you can drink as much as you’d like, -absolutely for free- just north of the Utah border in Soda Springs, Idaho.

Idan-Ha Mineral Water, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Idan-Ha Mineral Water
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

When settlers heading to California passed through this area on the Oregon Trail, they saw the many bubbling natural springs.

In 1838 Sarah White Smith, wrote in her diary, This is indeed a curiosity. The water is bubbling and foaming like boiling water.” But the water wasn’t hot.

She also wrote how delighted she was when she made bread with the water. “The bread was as light as any prepared with yeast.”

All this stirred up some fond memories I have of my high school science teacher who always made interesting things happen in the classroom. She put a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (commonly called baking soda) in a dish and added a couple tablespoons of water and vinegar. Voila! The dish began “bubbling and foaming like boiling water.”

For centuries something like this has been going on under the ground in Soda Springs. The carbonate rocks are mixing with slightly acidic water, sending CO2 bubbles to the surface .

By 1887, Soda Springs had grown to a bustling town. Some enterprising residents came up with a plan to capture the CO2 gas. They built giant drums over one of the springs and then built a five-mile pipeline to their bottling plant. There they mixed the gas with clear water from another spring and bottled it. The soda water was called “Idan-ha” and was shipped out on the railroad far and wide.

A bottle of Idan-ha mineral water
Mary Heers, Photographer
It won first place at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and again in the World’s Fair in Paris in 1905.

A decade later, another group of businessmen went to work on a plan to build a mineral water swimming pool resort.

On Dec 2, 1937, drillers dug down to 315 ft. No luck. They went to dinner. Then they heard a gush of water shoot up outside the window. They said it was “roaring like a dragon.” The whole area was enveloped in water vapor and Main Street was flooded. It took them two weeks to cap it.

The water wasn’t warm, so the businessmen abandoned their plans for a swimming pool resort.

The town knew their geyser was accidental; it was man-made- but still a plume of water shooting 100 ft into the air was impressive to look at.

Engineers put a timer on the cap. Now the carbonated water shoots up for 8 minutes every hour on the hour.

You can watch it for free.

As for drinking the naturally carbonated water, the city has set aside three springs.

Mineral springs in Soda Springs, Idaho
Mary Heers, Photographer
My guide drove me to his favorite site just outside of town We scrambled down a grassy hillside to a small bubbling pool about the size of a basketball. He whipped out a cup and dipped it in. I drank. It was cold and fizzy.

“Good as Perrier,” I said.

He smiled, “Now I like you.”

I liked him too. Even more, I loved drinking this tasty treasure bubbling up from the ground.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:

Photos:
Images Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio upr.org
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Price, Mike, Soda Springs, We Are East Idaho, EastIdahoNews.com LLC, September 9, 2019, https://www.eastidahonews.com/2019/09/we-are-east-idaho-soda-springs/

Hooper Springs Park, California National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/places/000/hooper-springs-park.htm

A man-made CO2 Geyser in Utah:
Weaver, Lance, Crystal Geyser, Grand County, Utah, Geosights, Utah Geological Survey (UGS), Utah Department of Natural Resources, January 2018, https://geology.utah.gov/map-pub/survey-notes/geosights/crystal-geyser/

Map on page 43 shows water from Soda Springs flows into the Bear River and the Great Salt Lake:
Dissolved-Mineral Inflow to Great Salt Lake and Chemical Characteristics of the Salt Lake Brine, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and The College of Mines and Mineral Industries, The University of Utah, 1963, https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/open_file_reports/ofr-485/Lake%20Brine%20Interpretive%20Reports/WRB%2003%20-%20Part%201%20-%20Hahl%20&%20Mitchell%20-%201963/Water%20Resources%20Bulletin%203%20Pt%201%201963.pdf

Bear Lake Limestone

Bear Lake Limestone: Pale Blue Bear Lake from the Shore, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Pale Blue Bear Lake from the Shore
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Blue Sky Reflected on the Water of Bear Lake, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Blue Sky Reflected on the Water of Bear Lake
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Stalagmites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Stalagmites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Soda Straw Stalactites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Soda Straw Stalactites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Small Ribbon  Stalactites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Small Ribbon Stalactites in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

Stalagmite in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake, Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer Stalagmite in Minnetonka Cave, St Charles Canyon, West of Bear Lake
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer

If you stop at the overlook above Bear Lake on a sunny summer day, you may be as surprised as I was to find out that the gray limestone rocks in Logan Canyon are responsible for the brilliant blue color of the lake. Among the wealth of information displayed at the overlook is the fact that as rainwater and melting snow seeps down through the limestone, it picks up tiny bits of calcium. This calcium in the lake water acts as “millions of microscopic mirrors” that reflect the exact color of the blue sky.

Once I started thinking about water seeping through this limestone, I signed up to take a tour of the Minnetonka Caves located above St Charles towards the northern side of the lake. Millions of years ago, water began to seep into small fissures in the rock, widening into larger cracks and puddling into low spots. When the water table dropped, the water drained away, leaving large crevices and 9 open rooms behind.

The cave was discovered in 1906 by Edward Arnell, who was out hunting and shot a grouse that fell just over a nearby ledge. He scrambled down to retrieve the bird, and then he felt it: cold air. Pushing aside some rocks he found the hole in the hillside – just large enough for a man to crawl through.

He found a bear skeleton near the entrance, but no sign that humans had ever been inside the cave before.

In 1939 the WPA went to work enlarging the entrance. They chiseled 444 steps into the rock and paved a rough path between the rooms.

Today the cave is managed by the Montpelier Ranger Station, who lead tours into the cave in the summer months. When my turn came, I slipped on my hoodie, grabbed the ice cold railing, and started down the slippery steps with my group. A generator was keeping the path dimly lit while spotlighting some of the drip formations. I was expecting stalactites and stalagmites, but I was delighted to also see sheets of dripping water frozen in time and looking very much like drapes. Hollow tubes called “soda straws” hung from the ceiling.

About half a mile into the cave our guide stopped us and turned us around. The rest of the cave, he said, was reserved for the five species of bats that spend the winter here. The cave stays at a cool 40 degrees year round – a perfect temperature for hibernating bats who will lower their temperature to near freezing, slow their heartbeat from 200 to 10 beats a minute, and only take a breath every few minutes.

I guess I’ve always envied hibernating mammals like bats and bears who go to sleep fat, doze through the winter, and wake up thin in the spring.

Before we started back up the 444 steps, our guide had one more lesson for us. He turned off the lights to allow us to experience a few moments of utter darkness.

Just as the lights came back on, a drip of cold water fell from the cave ceiling and landed on me. I felt like I’d been kissed.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah.

Credits:

Photos:
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Patrick Kelly, Bird Sounds Courtesy & Copyright Kevin Colver and Water at end Courtesy FreeSound.org, Sclolex, contributor
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Boling, Josh, Karst Topography, Wild About Utah, November 23, 2o2o, https://wildaboututah.org/karst-topography/

“It is a karst limestone cave, formed from ground water flowing through limestone and carving sink-holes and underground waterways.”
Minnetonka Cave, USDA Forest Service, US Department of the Interior, https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ctnf/recarea/?recid=70736

Minnetonka Cave Brochure, USDA Forest Service, US Department of the Interior, 23.308.415.04/04, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev3_015684.pdf

History of Minnetonka Cave, The Herald Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.hjnews.com/bear_laker/history-of-minnetonka-cave/article_950c5030-d82d-11ea-9bf1-47556f110eed.html

Davis, Jim and Milligan, Mark, Why is Bear Lake so Blue? and other commonly asked questions, Public Information Series 96, Utah Geological Survey, Department of Natural Resources, 2011, https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/public_information/pi-96.pdf

Salty Connections

Salty Connections: Drying Beds Surrounding the Great Salt Lake, Fall 2016, Courtesy NASA Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Drying Beds Surrounding the Great Salt Lake
Fall 2016
Courtesy NASA Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center

The Great Salt Lake Courtesy Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/utah-great-salt-lake-water-95570/ The Great Salt Lake
Courtesy Pixabay
https://pixabay.com/photos/utah-great-salt-lake-water-95570/

Salt with a Wooden Spoon, Courtesy Pixabay Salt with a Wooden Spoon, Courtesy Pixabay

Sevier Lake, a Saline Lake in Central UtahSevier Lake
Courtesy & Copyright 2013
Holly Strand, Photographer

Kyle Bosshardt Explains the Origins of the Redmond Minerals Mine June 2018 Courtesy & © Lyle Bingham Kyle Bosshardt Explains the Origins of the Redmond Minerals Mine
June 2018
Courtesy & © Lyle Bingham

Kyle Bosshardt Explains Redmond Salt Mineral Composition to a Tour June 2013 Courtesy & © Lyle Bingham Kyle Bosshardt Explains Redmond Salt Mineral Composition to a Tour
June 2013
Courtesy & © Lyle Bingham

Here in Utah, early explorers and native peoples knew of saline deposits, springs and lakes long before the pioneers arrived in 1847. For example, more than 1300 years ago,
the Fremont traded salt, found near Redmond, Utah, to the cliff-dwelling Anasazi of Mesa Verde. Necessary for life, salt is found across the State of Utah, where it is harvested, mined, processed and traded worldwide for various applications.

In a geologic recycling story that crosses many epochs, different salt compounds are often mixed and then move in water or under pressure. Normal table salt, the mineral halite, is chemically described as sodium chloride. Often found together in different concentrations are the bitter salts of potassium and magnesium. All these salts leach from rocks and soil, then wash downstream to oceans and land-locked lakes, such as Sevier Lake and the Great Salt Lake. In many cases, an ancient inland sea or lake deposited a layer of salt followed by layers of clay, sediment or lava. Then geologic forces uplifted the layers to repeat the cycle and make the salt accessible.

Lehi Hintze, in Utah’s Spectacular Geology, wrote, “Rock salt has two characteristics that promote upward movement. First, it is soft and flows plastically like ice does in a glacier. Second, it is less dense than other rocks and tends to migrate upward through the denser surrounding rocks….”

When the pioneers moved to Utah, salt rendering became one of the first industries established for external trade. They boiled Great Salt Lake water over wood fires until only salt remained. However, this lake salt tasted bitter due to impurities in the water. Fortunately, it could be sold to mines in Montana where salt was used to refine silver. Today, salt from the Great Salt Lake continues to be harvested mostly for industrial purposes including metal extraction, water softening and road de-icing.

For early salt entrepreneurs, boiling proved expensive. In time, the sun was put to work and evaporation ponds were built on the shores of the lake. At first the ponds filled when the wind blew, sometimes resulting in wall collapses. These failures led to better walls and brine pumps to repeatedly fill the ponds. Anyone flying west from Salt Lake City has seen these multicolored drying beds. Harvested mountains of dried salt, seen at the Morton and Cargill sites when driving I-80 towards Nevada, are loaded on trucks and rail cars for nationwide distribution.

More recently developed, is the salt mine west of Redmond, Utah, near Salina. The Redmond salt deposit predates the Great Salt Lake, which came from the drying of Lake Bonneville. Redmond Minerals is mining the first 800 feet of a 5000-foot diapir, an extruded mound forced up from salt beds deposited by the Jurassic Sundance Sea. In digging more than 18 miles of tunnels, Redmond has identified several grades of salt. Their culinary salt is sold worldwide as Real Salt, but the majority of their production is for agriculture, animal health and de-icing.

Salt production in Utah is possible because of the geologic and historic past. Just as the Fremont gathered and traded salt anciently, modern methods of harvesting and mining allow companies to distribute products worldwide. As such, salt continues to contribute to Utah’s role as the Crossroads of the West.

This is Lyle Bingham and I’m Wild About Utah and its 15 years on Utah Public Radio.

Credits:
Photos: Great Salt Lake Photos Courtesy NASA Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Great Salt Lake and Salt with a Wooden Spoon, Photos Courtesy Pixabay
Redmond Photos Courtesy & Copyright Lyle Bingham, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Lyle Bingham’s Wild About Utah Postings

Strand, Holly, Utah is Worth its Salt, Wild About Utah, November 21, 2013, https://wildaboututah.org/utah-is-worth-its-salt/

The Great Salt Lake, Hassibe, W.R. & Keck, W.G., USGS, US Department of the Interior, https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/70039229/report.pdf

Cabrero, Alex, Redmond salt mine supplies Utah’s roads and chef’s kitchens, KSL TV, December 18, 2022, https://www.ksl.com/article/50540322/redmond-salt-mine-supplies-utahs-roads-and-chefs-kitchens

The Mineral Industry of Utah, National Minerals Information Center, USGS, US Department of the Interior, https://www.usgs.gov/centers/national-minerals-information-center/mineral-industry-utah

Salt Providers in Utah:

Other Salt-related mineral extractors in Utah:

Above lists may not be complete. Please send recommendations to wildaboututah@gmail.com

The Great Salt Lake, Utah Division of Water Resources, Utah Department of Natural Resources, https://water.utah.gov/great-salt-lake/

Great Salt Lake Plans, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands, Utah Department of Natural Resources, https://ffsl.utah.gov/state-lands/great-salt-lake/great-salt-lake-plans/

Clark, John L., History of Utah’s Salt Industry 1847-1970, August 1971, Thesis, BYU Dept of History, https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5602&context=etd

Coloring the Great Salt Lake, The Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147355/coloring-the-great-salt-lake

Hintze, Lehi F, Utah’s Spectacular Geology and How It Came to Be, Department of Geology, Brigham Young University, 2005, https://archive.org/details/utahsspectacular0000hint/mode/2up

Follow-up:
Winslow, Ben, Compass Minerals to abandon lithium extraction on Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake Collaborative, Fox13, Scripps Media, Inc, https://www.fox13now.com/news/great-salt-lake-collaborative/compass-minerals-to-abandon-lithium-extraction-on-great-salt-lake

Find the Story

Percy the Utahraptor by Justin Tolman, USU Museum of Geology, https://www.usu.edu/geo/info/geology-museum/ Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Percy the Utahraptor
by Justin Tolman
USU Museum of Geology
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

Fossil Point in the San Rafael desert near Green River, Utah, Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer Fossil Point in the San Rafael desert near Green River, Utah
https://www.blm.gov/visit/fossil-point-trailhead
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

In their picture book “Everywhere, Wonder,” Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr challenge readers to find a story in places and phenomena both ordinary and extraordinary. Black ants marching in a line have a story just as interesting as red-rock canyons and a footprint on the moon. Sunlight patterns through a window are just as beautiful as Brazilian jungles and wildebeests in Kenyan savannas. They remind us to keep our eyes open and weave the stories of our noticings. As I wander among Utah’s wild wonders, it’s easy.

This spring I realized the fun of finding my wonder story as I stumbled upon the sign for Fossil Point in the San Rafael desert near Green River, Utah. The odds were pretty good, I suspected, that I could find fossils there, but I didn’t know exactly what I was hunting. My eyes are always drawn to the fact-filled stories on interpretive signage, even if I’ve read them before, but at this spot all I knew was the title. No kiosks with hint-filled maps and tips for discovery or guardrail paths making it obvious where to walk. Just a pile of boulders.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a dino-fanatic, I have been a frequent visitor throughout my life at the Dinosaur National Monument and other Utah fossil museums as well as more dinosaur trackways and quarries not housed in buildings. I’ve read hundreds of dino readers and scanned even more dinosaur books, but here I was without many clues to what I might find. Resisting the urge to look up internet hints, I started up the Fossil Point slope. Was it trilobites the size of dimes and quarters or prehistoric swamp ferns? I will not reveal what I found at Fossil Point so that you can discover the wonder yourself, but it motivated me to catch up on Utah’s contribution to the more than one hundred characters in the dinosaur story, as depicted beautifully in the Dinosaurs of Utah tools at the Utah Geological Survey website.

So many students I’ve met have been fascinated by the T-rex and Utah state fossil Allosaurus, and they know all sorts of theories about how the Utahraptor, our state dinosaur since 2018, might have had feathers and hunted in packs. Fossils provide hints to the size and shape of prehistoric life, but they leave a lot of the colors and textures to the imagination. Tucked in the back corner of the Geology Museum at Utah State University I found another story, this one titled “Percy.” While the stories of Percy’s relatives are preserved in the nine-ton Utahraptor Megablock extracted from the area that is emerging as Utahraptor State Park, this story took sculptor Justin Tolman an astounding 350 hours to create. This incredible replica sports colors resembling my grandbabies’ Easter egg-dying hands as they toddled along the base of Fossil Point with me hunting evidence of a Mesozoic story. It is a story I’m glad I found
almost all on my own.

For Wild About Utah, I am Shannon Rhodes.

Credits:

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller, https://upr.org/
Text:     Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Wild About Utah Pieces by Shannon Rhodes, https://wildaboututah.org/author/shannon-rhodes/

Bureau of Land Management, Fossil Point trailhead, https://www.blm.gov/visit/fossil-point-trailhead

Rodgers, Bethany, Governor Spencer Cox signs bill to create Utahraptor State Park near Moab. 2021. The Salt Lake Tribune. https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2021/03/17/gov-spencer-cox-signs/

Sidwell, Owen. University student sculpts Utahraptor for USU Geology Museum. 2018. Utah Public Radio. https://www.upr.org/arts-and-culture/2018-04-12/university-student-sculpts-utahraptor-for-usu-geology-museum

Swanson, Matthew. Everywhere, Wonder. 2017. Imprint: New York. https://robbiandmatthew.com/everywhere-wonder/

USU Museum of Geology, Come meet Percy the Raptor, https://www.usu.edu/geo/info/geology-museum

Popular Geology: Dinosaurs and Fossils, Utah Geological Survey. https://geology.utah.gov/popular/dinosaurs-fossils/#:~:text=Utah%20also%20contains%20abundant%20fossils,of%20millions%20of%20years%20ago.