Keep it Salty! A Visit to Saltville, Virginia
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Saltville is how calm and peaceful the Appalachian town is. It wasn't always that way; salt has been produced in Saltville since the 1780s and at one time Saltville was a bustling "company town." During the Civil War Saltville was a very strategic location where two battles were fought over the "Salt Capital of the Confederacy;" Union troops destroyed the salt works during the Second Battle of Saltville. Today the United Salt Company continues to produce salt in Saltville and the full story of the local salt industry is explained at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.
The Museum of the Middle Appalachians is so comprehensive that they have a saying that the museum covers everything from "mastodons to moon missions." Ice Age fossils of mastodon and wooly mammoth have been found in ancient lake beds that lie under Saltville's salt marshes and some of these can be seen at the museum along with an imposing cast of a mastodon. As to a tie-in with the Space Age, museum-goers will see how products from Saltville were used by the Air Force to make hydrazine which was used as fuel for the Titan II rocket and the Apollo lunar module. Among the more than 14 exhibits at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians are displays focusing on the Saltville Valley and a geologic exhibit cleverly called "It's Our Fault," an Early People exhibit about the pre-Clovis Native Americans who once inhabited Saltville, a War Between the States (Civil War) exhibit that includes a five-part video presentation and a 4000-piece collection of photos.
There's also a look back at company town days (including a giant steam whistle that blew at shift change) and a nice tribute to late local old time music legend Hobart Smith. The museum is located in Saltville's charming downtown area and visitors will come away with a greater understanding of the importance of salt in our nation's history.
Also notable, elsewhere in Saltville, are the former salt marshes that are now a town park, scenic and suitable for a walk, fishing or a family outing. Saltville is located on the Civil War Trail and there are historic buildings and sites to see at the Saltville Battlefields Historic District.
Saltville spreads out over portions of Smyth and Washington counties in Southwestern Virginia. To keep it salty and plan your visit go here.
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