Kanawha Salt Industry

Kanawha Watershed
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On September 29, 1861, one of the worst floods on record hit the Kanawha River watershed. The river crested nearly 17 feet above flood stage in Charleston and badly damaged the valley’s salt works.

It also affected an innovative system of dams and locks that’d been built in the 1850s to transport cannel coal on the Coal River. The refined oil from cannel coal was highly popular as a source of home-lighting fuel throughout the East.

In the early 1800s, Kanawha County became the salt-producing capital of the nation.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Output pool, Kanawha Salt Industry, War of 1812, Kanawha County

On November 10, 1817, Kanawha County salt operators entered into a unique business arrangement that would set the stage for major industries in the late 1800s. Salt was an essential product in early American history. In the early 1800s, Kanawha County became the salt-producing capital of the nation.