A little over the Ohio border, just south of Charleston, WV, the modern day J.D. Dickinson Salt-Works is run by seventh-generation decedents of William Dickinson siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne. Their business mines and sells a unique, organic, small-batch finishing salt – that is salt one sprinkles directly on prepared foods, of which there are many varieties and flavors that apparently vary from region to region like wines do. Tours of the facility are available by appointment – the family suggests visiting in between spring and autumn when salt production is in full swing and the landscape is blooming.
The family business began with William Dickinson who came to the Allegheny Mountains sometime before 1813. Dickinson’s entrepreneurial spirit saw potential when he observed the locals reducing spring water by boiling to collect the salt. He purchased in “salt properties” near the Kanawha River in Appalachian Mountains and had become a “salt man” by 1817. His flourishing business earned Malden the title of “the salt making capital of the east”.
Dickinson and his brother-in-law Joel Shrewsbury constructed the first salt well out of a hollowed out tree trunk. This first well focused on producing salt for curing meats and fish—which would have been more profitable at the time. At its peak Dickinson’s salt business employed two hundred people and concentrated on producing industrial salt products.
Today his decedents continue his entrepreneurial tradition, using natural processes and hand made tools to create an artisan product.
In Belmont County, Ohio there are so many possibilities to discover. It is located in Southeastern Ohio nestled in between rolling hills, along the Ohio River. It is just 8 minutes from Wheeling, West Virginia, 70 minutes from Pittsburgh, and 120 minutes from Columbus.
This time of year the best attraction is the Belmont City Victorian Mansion. Beautifully decorated for Christmas, this 26-room mansion is elegant in Victorian detail and furnishings. There are several steps between the three upper floors and the basement (no elevator). The third floor is a ballroom where festive New Year’s Eve celebrations have taken place.
In warmer weather, there are many outside attractions such as: the Dickinson Cattle Co. that has Texas Longhorn Cattle roaming the land, Watt Center for History & The Arts, The Underground Railroad Museum, Sedgwick House Museum, and National Imperial Glass Museum.
The 1828 Blaine Bridge (Blaine) has the distinction of being “the Ohio Bicentennial Bridge”, Ohio’s oldest documented bridge. It is located along Historic national Road in Blaine under the Route 40 viaduct.
Belmont County is the only county in the state with a total of three official Ohio Byways: the Drovers’ Trail along Ohio 147 and 800, Historic National Road/US 40, and the Ohio River Scenic Byway along Ohio 7.
With 10,000 acres of vineyards, farms, beaches, parks and forest, Pelee Island is almost any visitors dream island. Even though it is the southernmost inhabited point in Canada, over half of the 50 American states are north of Pelee, including Northern California. Pelee Island is on the same latitude as the prestigious wine regions of the world, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and Napa Valley, California. High winds blowing off the lake, a high number of frost-free days, and a deep soil base insure prime growing conditions for grapes.
Stretching around the perimeter of the island the main road provides an excellent route to cycle or walk. For nature enthusiasts there are over 10,000 unique species inhabiting Pelee Island. Bird watchers come every year to witness the seasonal migration of hundreds of bird species at Fish Point Nature Reserve.
There are several other points of interest such as the Vin Villa ruins – all that remains of Canada’s first commercial winery. The recently restored Pelee Lighthouse, built in 1833 to guide ships through the treacherous Pelee Passage. And the museum located at the west dock which has an exhibit on shipwrecks claimed by Lake Erie’s shallow waters during storms and naval battles, and an amazing exhibit on Al Capone and his rum runners who used Pelee Island as a stepping stone into Ohio during Prohibition.
Other activities include fishing, trails for hiking, long sandy beaches and camping. A number of Bed and Breakfasts and restaurants are also available.
Whether you get to Pelee Island by the ferry from Sandusky or by plane you are sure to find its natural beauty and many activities, make for a memorable day, weekend, or vacation.