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Winter is on the way. Where is Maine's road salt coming from?

'Down East' takes a look at what keeps vehicles moving when the roads get icy.

PORTLAND, Maine — Where do story ideas come from? Photographer Greta Rybus came up with the idea for an article in the December issue of “Down East” magazine on — brace yourself lest the excitement overwhelms you — road salt.

On several occasions, she had driven by the great mounds of salt that can be seen from the road along the South Portland waterfront. 

The photographer wanted to know more about them, so she pitched the idea to editor-in-chief, Brian Kevin.

“She is, for my money, one of the best photographers in New England,” he said. “And when she says she’s interested in something, I tend to say, ‘Go for it, Greta.’”

You might think a story on road salt would be a snooze. Wrong. The photos look like something from a moonscape, and the article is filled with interesting details.

Did you have any idea that state and local highway departments in Maine go through more than a half-million tons of rock salt each winter? Did you know the public water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was likely caused by road salt that corroded pipes? Or that one of Maine’s biggest suppliers of road salt is Morton Salt, the same company that may well have produced the salt you’ve got in a shaker on your kitchen table?

We talked to Kevin about that story and others in the December issue, including a profile about one of the last Mainers to still haul logs out of the forest by horse. 

Watch our interview to learn more.

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