The historical Salt Marker northwest of the intersection of Main Street and US-50 in South Hutchinson, Kansas marks the location of the Salt Discovery Well.
The fairly new display includes picnic tables, several markers and the Salt Discovery Well, where in 1887 Ben Blanchard found the salt that has contributed to the development of Hutchinson. The well has a small structure over it, but the open well head can be viewed through a clear top. A 1260 pound block of locally mined salt is also on display.
The community of South Hutchinson was founded by Ben Blanchard's Inter-State Investment Company in 1886. In 1887, Blanchard hired a firm to drill for oil beneath the town. When no oil was found, he dumped some oil into the well to try to convince investors that they had struck oil.
Although this scheme failed, Blanchard's well had passed through a salt vein. He was uninterested in the salt, but the first Reno County salt processing plant was established in 1888. By 1910, 26 different salt companies were formed. Today only 3 salt companies remain, but salt mining is still an important Hutchinson industry.
In 2007, Ben Blanchard's original well was uncovered after many decades of being buried by several feet of soil in this farm field. 2007 was also the year that the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, the only museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, opened in nearby Hutchinson, Kansas.
In early June, South Hutchinson hosts Salt Fest. The 11th Annual Salt Fest will be 2012.
copyright 2009-2012 by Keith Stokes