"Back to the salt mines” means back to unexciting work, or “back to the daily grind.” It’s a comment often made after a weekend away from work.
“If he starts anything with me I’ll chase him back to the salt mines of Siberia” was cited in a newspaper comic strip in 1926. “Salt mines” often implies the salt mines of Siberia, such as those at Usolye-Sibirskoye. It’s not only hard work in a desolate place, but it’s also penal colony imprisonment. Later citations of “back to the salt mines” usually leave off “Siberia.” “Well, Gilly, it’s back to the mines for me”—leaving off “salt”—was cited in 1933.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
salt mine n. a mine yielding rock salt; also joc. (esp. in pl.) with allusion to the practice of sentencing offenders to labour in a salt mine; spec. one’s work or place of employment.
1963 Times 13 May 3/1 Rhodes is back in favour after a year or two in the saltmines for throwing.
1966 L. Deighton Billion-dollar Brain xvii. 186 We finished our milk. ‘Back to the salt mines,’ said Harvey.
1975 B. Garfield Hopscotch xxvii. 281 I’d better get back to the salt mines. I’ve got a lot of unfinished jobs.
4 February 1926, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “The Gumps” comic strip by Sidney Smith, pg. 14, col. 1:
IF HE STARTS ANYTHING WITH ME I’LL CHASE HIM BACK TO THE SALT MINES OF SIBERIA.
Murder Day by Day
By Irvin S. Cobb
Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company
“Well, Gilly, it’s back to the mines for me, and this day I’ll need to have my brain grinding in two — three different places at once.”
17 May 1938, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Around the Plaza” by Jeff Davis, pg. 11-A, col. 1:
Meanwhile, with us, it’s farewell to holiday and back to the salt mines.
25 June 1938, Rockford (IL) Morning Star, “Man About Manhattan” by George Tucker (AP), pg. 4, col. 7:
Well, the honeymoon is almost over...Only a couple more days, the doctor says...That means back to Siberia, back to the salt mines.
3 July 1938, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “New York Speaking” by Lucius Beebe, pg. 8-B, col. 3:
A simple lunch and back to the salt mines by 5:30.
OCLC WorldCat record
Back to the Salt Mines—Career Faculty Returning to Industry.
Author: Michael H Parsons
Edition/Format: Book Book : English
Database: ERIC The ERIC database is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education.
Damn the weekend is over, back to the salt mines in the morning...who am I kidding I still love going to the firehouse 🚒
10:46 PM - 8 Feb 2015