Archaeological and historical investigations of Site 41AS95, a mid-nineteenth-century salt works on St. Charles Bay, Texas
Hatchett, Jennifer C.
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Historical and archaeological investigations at site 41AS95, a mid-nineteenth century salt works on the Texas coast, have revealed previously-unknown information about a facility that likely provided salt to the local community of Lamar as well as to the network of towns and villages surrounding Copano Bay. Captain James W. Byrne, an Irish land speculator, helped to found the town of Lamar and built the salt works, which was in operation from sometime after 1851 to around 1862. Archaeological evidence suggests that the St. Charles Bay salt works may have consisted of a number of elements widely separated on the landscape, and estimates are provided for the amount of salt that could have been produced at the site. Byrne anticipated a need for local salt production that did not become truly manifest until the Civil War, when such facilities became relatively common and were among the high-priority targets of Union raids. Small-scale salt production sites of the type Byrne built are relatively unknown archaeologically or historically, so this research helps to illuminate a poorly-documented site as well as an obscure industrial process