West Virginia University Press has published a new edition of The Antebellum Kanawha Salt Business and Western Markets by John E. Stealey, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Shepherd University.
In the early19th century, a 10-mile stretch along the Kanawha River in western Virginia became the largest salt-producing area in the antebellum United States. Production of this basic commodity stimulated settlement, the livestock industry, and the rise of agricultural processing, especially pork packing, in the American West. Salt extraction was then and is now a fundamental industry.
John Stealey’s informative study is an important contribution to American economic, business, labor, and legal history. Now available with a new preface by the author, the book examines the legal basis of this industry, its labor practices, and its marketing and distribution patterns. Through technological innovation, salt producers harnessed coal and steam as well as men and animals, constructed a novel evaporative system, and invented drilling tools later employed in oil and natural gas exploration. Thus in many ways the salt industry was the precursor of the American extractive and chemical industries.
The West Virginia History journal calls this book “a piece of meticulous scholarship and an outstanding reconstruction, mostly from primary sources, of one of the first major manufacturing industries to develop in what is now southern West Virginia. . . .
This is a well-told story of entrepreneurship, revealing how innovators in a frontier industry both anticipated and adapted to change by introducing new technologies and forms of business organization.”
Stealey is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Shepherd University and the author of Kanawhan Prelude to Nineteenth-Century United States Monopoly: The Virginia Combinations, Porte Crayon’s Mexico:David Hunter Strother’s Diaries in the Early Porfirian Era, 1879-1885 and�West Virginia’s Civil War-Era Constitution: Loyal Revolution, Confederate Counter-Revolution, and the Convention of 1872.
Publication date: September 2016
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