Chasing Shadows: Kettle evidence of saltmaking along coast

Drawn by Col. George Washington Scott during the Civil War, this map indicates the location of salt

Drawn by Col. George Washington Scott during the Civil War, this map indicates the location of salt works throughout the Big Bend region, including near Alligator Point.

Florida Memory Project
Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM.

An antique metal cauldron was discovered in the mud at Alligator Harbor by Gail Heuring is currently on display outside of the Carrabelle History Museum .

Museum Director Tamara Allen thought it was a cauldron used to concentrate salt by evaporating seawater.

Last week, Chasing Shadows asked readers for information and we got a reply from historian Joshua Goodman at the State Archives of Florida. We are grateful to Mr. Goodman for answering our question.

 “Several of us here at the State Library and Archives were very intrigued by your recent story in the Apalachicola Times about the suspected saltmaking vessel from Alligator Point, and we’d like to contribute,” Goodman wrote. “First off – the object is almost certainly a salt kettle. If the rust were to be removed, it would look almost identical to a kettle on display at the state museum in Cedar Key farther on down the coast. We’ve put our heads together and come up with several resources to assist Tamara Allen at the Carrabelle History Museum with learning more about saltmaking along Florida ’s coast.”

Goodman said an old standby concerning saltmaking during the Civil War in Florida is Ella Lonn’s 1932 article from the Florida Historical Quarterly, “The Extent and Importance of Federal Naval Raids on Salt-Making in Florida , 1862-1865.” The article is free through PALMM (Publication of Archival Library & Museum Materials). Visit

A good recent treatment of the subject, including the latest major research, can be found in Robert Taylor’s “Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy.” (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.) Goodman took the liberty of checking the Franklin County Public Library’s catalog and said they didn’t appear to have it. The Inter-library Loan service can get it, and the State Library has a circulating copy in Tallahassee .

Florida Memory, the digital arm of the State Archives, has several good resources available, including a history of Civil War saltmaking written as part of the Federal Writers Project in Florida during the Great Depression. Visit and run a search for “saltmaking” or “salt works” to see what else is available in the way of images and other documents.

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