The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

The History Project: Salt - West Virginia's first major industry


West Virginia has been known as a home to multiple industries, but its first major industry was thanks to a prehistoric sea that rests beneath it. Salt from the Iapetus Ocean, from our planet’s Pangea period, is trapped beneath the Appalachian Mountains and can be drawn up in wells. The industry’s nascent days created wealthy families and contributed to the growth of the Great Kanawha Valley, most especially Charleston.

Today, descendants of one of the salt barons continue to package the Mountain State’s first commodity.

Listen now: