This 200-Year-Old Family Farm Harvests Salt From An Ancient West Virginia Ocean Buried Under The Appalachian Mountains
Where can you find a business that has been passed down by the same family on the same land for seven generations, combines the latest sustainable technologies with time-honored traditions, is deeply rooted in its local community but acclaimed around the world, and produces a uniquely pure food product with only hand tools?
The answer is in Malden, WV, just south of Charleston. Here, along the banks of the Kanawha River, a craft that began over 200 years ago is still practiced: salt harvesting.
The J. Q. Dickinson Salt Works has existed since 1817, practicing a unique process of salt production. The source of the salt is the ancient Iapetus Ocean, buried 350 feet beneath the Appalachian mountains and untouched by contaminants.
For centuries, the salt of Kanawha has been known for its extraordinary properties. Malden was once known as the "Salt Capital of the East," and its salt production drove many other American industries.
Today, harvested without the use of large-scale industrial equipment or additives, the fully organic, mineral-rich salt of the Dickinson Salt Works has a quality all its own, as attested by customers from New York to Australia.
To harvest the salt, briny water is pumped from an old well into tanks, where iron is allowed to settle out of the water, then into long vats, where much of the water evaporates and salt crystals are able to form. This takes about two weeks. The salt is raked into piles, collected, dried further, sifted, inspected, and finally packaged for use or for sale. It's a fascinating process, and one that you can actually experience for yourself by visiting the farm!
Nestled in the mountains by the river, The Dickinson Salt-Works offers visitors a variety of attractions. Free tours encompass the history of the region, the sustainably powered saltmaking process used today...and free samples of some ancient sea salt!
The gift shop offers a range of local products. Discover how this pristine seasoning enhances the flavor of everything from vegetables to ice cream!
Additionally, the beautiful farm grounds are available for a variety of private events.
Rooted in the past, local in scale but globally recognized, the J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works is a place worth experiencing! To learn more, visit their website
here or their Facebook page here.
Another interesting local farm that seeks to preserve West Virginia’s rich food heritage is Lost Creek Farm, and you can read about it
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4797 Midland Dr, Charleston, WV 25306, USA