Avery Island


It is more than something to sprinkle on your fries! Salt mining has been part of Louisiana since the 1862 at Avery Island. This mine is claimed to be the oldest salt mine in the Western Hemisphere, and is still under operation today as part of the Cargill Corporation. Salt extraction has occurred on the island for at least several hundred years, beginning with American Indians who boiled briny spring water to extract the mineral. During the Civil War, the Avery family discovered extremely pure solid rock salt just below the island's surface and because of a Union blockade, the Avery’s mined the deposit to supply much of the lower South with salt. Today, while salt is still a hot commodity, with Louisiana one of the largest salt producers in North America with roughly 24% of US production, Avery Island has another even more important claim to fame, the home of Tabasco Hot Sauce.

Following the Civil War the McIlhenny family returned to their Avery Island plantation to find that not much had survived. The salt works on the Gulf Coast Island were inoperable. The sugarcane fields had been destroyed. But according to the official Tabasco Website Mr. McIlhenny was delighted to find that the special red peppers he had planted in his garden before the war had miraculously survived. He began to experiment with making pepper sauce, and eventually hit upon a formula that worked by crushing the ripest, reddest peppers, mixing half a cup of local salt with each gallon, then aging the mixture in crockery jars for thirty days. He added fine French wine vinegar, and aged the sauce for another thirty days before straining, bottling it, and creating another Hot Commodity from Avery Island.

So while you are visiting New Orleans and NSTA, you may want to take the drive to Avery Island to get that free sample of Tabasco and to see one of the oldest salt mines in the United States where according to Aditnow see the the oldest Steam Hoist still operating in the U.S, as well as one of the few surviving examples of a timber-framed industrial structure, The Breaker Building, still in use.

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Avery Island
Richard Jones

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