A Walking Tour of Charleston, West Virginia
a walking tour in the Look Up, America series from walkthetown.com
by Doug Gelbert
published by Cruden Bay Books at Smashwords
Copyright 2012 by Cruden Bay Books
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.
Settlers arrived in the Kanawha Valley before the American Revolution but about the only thing that came from it during the 18th century was the name “Charleston” from the father of Colonel George Clendenin who constructed the first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, in 1787. By 1800 the village boasted a population of only about 65 living in twelve houses.
But in the early 19th century salt brines were discovered along the Kanawha River and the first salt well was drilled in 1806. Over the next few decades salt production would rise to over three million barrels per year. It took a lot of sawmills to cut all that wood for the barrels and the flatboats needed to ship the salt and Charleston experienced its first boom. Many of the town streets today bear the names of the early 19th century salt kings: Dickinson, Shrewbury, Ruffner, Brooks and others.