“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Malden in Kanawha County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Necessary Ingredient

Malden's Salt Works

The Necessary Ingredient Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, August 3, 2012
1. The Necessary Ingredient Marker
Inscription. In the decades before the Civil War, this region, called the Kanawha Salines, had a booming salt industry. Salt extraction created vast wealth here, and by 1846, this area had led the nation with 3.2 million bushels produced. During the Civil War, salt was a necessary ingredient for the preservation of meat for the armies. The salt works here at Malden were especially important to the Confederacy.

Salt businesses relied on slaves, owned or leased, and the workers face difficult conditions. Many jobs were dangerous…mining the coal to boil the brine was especially so. Slaves toiled at the 52 furnaces that lined the Kanawha River for ten miles above Charleston. By 1850, 3,140 slaves lived among the 12,001 white inhabitants, and more than half of the slaves worked in the salt operations.

Many salt-works owners lived here in Malden, while others built large estates along the Kanawha River in Charleston to escape the heat and pollution of the furnaces. Several of the houses still stand on Kanawha Boulevard. By 1861, the salt industry here was in decline because of the development of salt fields farther west, as well as the westward shift of the meatpacking industry. The Civil War and a record flood on the Kanawha River hastened its collapse.

(Left Sidebar): In 1853, saltmaker Richard Lovell estimated the employment
The Necessary Ingredient Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, August 3, 2012
2. The Necessary Ingredient Marker
of hands at his two salt furnaces as: 14 coal diggers; 5 wheelers [moved coal to mine mouth]; 4 haulers [moved coal by team on rail tramway to furnace]; 3 kettle tenders [boiled brine to recover salt]; 1 or 2 cat hole [coal ash repository] cleaners; 6 engineers [ran steam engines to pump brine from well]; 2 salt lifters and wheelers [moved salt to packing shed]; 7 "jim arounds" and packers [general laborers, firemen packed salt into barrels]; 2 blacksmiths; 1 "negro man sort of manager."

(Right Sidebar): Born into slavery on a Virginia farm, nine-year old Booker T. Washington moved to Malden with his family in 1865 after the war ended. He packed salt, mined coal, and worked for the wealthy Ruffner family. His labors spurred his thirst for an education. Washington became a prominent educator and leading spokesman for African Americans from 1895 until his death in 1915. Booker returned here often to visit his sister, Amanda Johnson. The nearby site of her brick house is now West Virginia State University Park.
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 17.934′ N, 81° 33.45′ W. Marker is in Malden, West Virginia, in Kanawha County. Marker is at the intersection of Malden Drive (County Route 60/6) and Cypress Drive on Malden Drive. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4200 Malden Drive, Charleston WV 25306, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Malden / Booker T. Washington Homeplace (a few steps from this marker); Rev. Ruffner's Grave (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ruffner Well (approx. 0.3 miles away); Daniel Boone (approx. 2.6 miles away); a different marker also named Daniel Boone (approx. 2.6 miles away); Charleston 's Civil War Sites (approx. 2.7 miles away); Craik-Patton House (approx. 2.8 miles away); Lewis’ March (approx. 3.6 miles away).
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 310 times since then and 60 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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