Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saltville, VA

Below is an excerpt recording a man's travel and what he found in Saltville, VA. What I found interesting in this area was the Salt Farm where they pumped the salt up like water from a well then boiled it down to evaporate the water.

From Glade Springs I turned aside to Saltville, a busy town connected with the outer world by a branch railroad running in among the queer hill-knobs filled with plaster, and through the valleys where salt-wells are sunk. The country round about, until one reaches the Alleghany ridge, is not unlike that portion of England lying near Eastbourne, with its chalk hills sparsely covered with grass. Saltville is a neat manufacturing village, nestling in a valley near a defile in Walker's mountain. The basin of salt-water there yields nearly eighty per cent, and, ever since a Scotchman named King opened a well in 1780, the salines have been extensively worked. During the last war the Confederacy depended almost entirely upon these works for salt, and the tremendous draft of ten thousand bushels per day was promptly met by the wells. About two thousand men were constantly employed; the town was thoroughly fortified; each Southern State had its private establishment, and the various furnaces are to-day known by the names of the States which originally established them. There was some savage fighting along the mountain-sides, and in the defiles, when General Stoneman tried to force his way into Saltville and destroy the precious stores; but, after a severe repulse, he succeeded in gaining possession and burning everything. The stock company now owning and working the wells, manufacture but three thousand bushels of salt daily, sending it mainly to the Southern markets.
The stout negroes working over the boiling salt were both delighted and amazed when their pictures appeared in the artist's sketch-book; they had never seen "no such writin' befo'." Great stores of gypsum are annually mined and prepared for fertilizers in this valley, where also there are some superb model farms, well stocked and separated one from another by beautiful hedges. Not far from Saltville is Clinch mountain, over which the traveler to Tazewell county, a wonderfully' beautiful mountain region, must climb. The fighting around Saltville was severest at the time that Burbridge came from Kentucky, intending to break up the Confederate works there. It was, I believe, the first fight in which colored troops entered as an important element, and the slaughter of them, as they came struggling up the difficult hill-sides, is said by eye-witnesses to have been dreadful. About six thousand troops were engaged on each side.
Source: The Great South ©1875

No comments:

Post a Comment