Mostly rural, Cheshire is known for its fertile land, suitable for comprehensive agricultural use, as well as its mineral resources, which include sandstone, salt and, historically, copper. Created by the region's geological evolution, Triassic Sandstone, used in many parts of England for urban edifices and recognisable through its distinctive red colour, was used as the principal resource for notable constructions such as Chester Cathedral. In addition to sandstone, gritstone has also been mined since the 1500s, as the old quarry at Macclesfield proves, as well as limestone, which is known to have been mined at Astbury during in the early 20th Century.
Salt has also been extracted over a long period of time and the only underground salt mine in England can be found in Winsford, along a tourist route. Today, the leading municipality in salt making is Middlewich, where more than 50 per cent of all salt used in the UK is produced. At Alderley Edge, ancient copper mines can still be found and are also used as visitor attractions; moreover, copper was regularly mined in the area (under Bickerton Hills more specifically, where sandstone can also be found) between the 17th Century and the first half of the 20th Century.
Another natural resource, once intensely exploited, is coal, which was found in a few locations across Cheshire, such as Poynton. Below coal layers, a stratum of mudstones can be found, known as fireclay, once mined at a few locations, among them Bollington.
Aside from salt, among the county's most valued natural resources remains its network of rivers, used towards a broad range of activities such as navigation, agriculture, generating power, fishing (angling), tourism and so forth. Whereas the most economically lucrative are the River Dee and the River Mersey, smaller ones such as the River Dean, River Bollin and River Dane are also of considerable importance.