Salt Fest Named STS Top 20 Event

Mark your calendars for BB&T Malden Salt Fest—a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for September 2019! This free annual event, which takes place Sept. 28 at J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works in Malden, celebrates the history of salt making in the Kanawha Valley.

In the early 1800s, businessman William Dickinson of Bedford County, Virginia, traveled to Kanawha County (then Virginia), where he had heard that people were boiling brine from springs to make salt. Dickinson invested in salt properties along the Kanawha River and was making and selling salt by 1817. The industry flourished, and Malden became the “salt making capital of the east.” Nearly 200 years later, two seventh-generation descendants of Dickinson, siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne, revived the tradition with J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.

Malden Salt Fest will feature guided tours of the salt-works, starting with the well where brine is pumped from an ancient sea buried deep beneath the Appalachian Mountains. The brine is evaporated in curing houses, leaving the salt, which is collected, packaged and shipped. A gift shop on the premises carries an assortment of products made from J.Q. Dickinson Salt. Visitors also can take a train ride over to the old farm, which has historic artifacts on display.

Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., beginning with a parade. The event will feature arts and crafts, food vendors, live music, lectures and children’s activities, all in celebration of Kanawha Valley’s connection to the salt industry that once thrived in the area. A celebration also is planned to honor the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Presbyterian Church in the Valley.

The Daniel Boone Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will present living-history demonstrations and experts from the WV Quilt Documentation Project will be on hand to document quilts dating before 1970. (If you have a quilt dating before 1970 and would like to have it documented, email Ashton Pence at to reserve a time.)