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Picture of the day - September 17, 2006

The Saltville, Virginia Welcome Sign

Welcome to Saltville, Va.
Click photo to enlarge

This afternoon, Cheria and I took a leisurely ride through the southwestern Virginia countryside to visit the historic town of Saltville in neighboring Smyth County. The town got its name from the vast deposits of the mineral that lay just below the ground in the local area.

Eons ago, an earthquake along the fault line that runs right through the town caused the upper layer of the earth's crust to "roll over". This tremendous upheaval caused the salt deposits that normally lie deep within the earth to come to the surface, burying the newer soil beneath it.

For years, Saltville supplied a large portion of the United States with table salt. Later, during the Civil War, the Confederacy depended on Saltville for its much-needed supply of salt for preserving its soldiers' food. Two battles took place in Saltville as Union forces attempted to destroy the salt works and eliminate the south's only significant supply of salt. On December 20, 1864, Maj. General George Stoneman's troops succeeded in doing just that, dealing a devastating blow to the welfare and morale of the Confederate army. In just a few short months the war would be over.

Today the salt mines lie idle, but Saltville is very proud of its heritage as one of the Civil War's most important battlegrounds. If you pay them a visit, you'll be able to see many artifacts from the days when the small town of Saltville, Virginia was indeed the "Salt Capital of the Confederacy".

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