As the Mormon Pioneers trekked across the plains, They had lots of challenges along the way. When they reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, Brigham Young was overlooking the valley and knew that this was the place for them. As they began to settle in the Valley, the Pioneers were impressed with the environment and natural resources they had. The Church became engaged in the salt industry by the late 1880’s. Many others throughout the years also joined the salt business. In this paper, I will be discussing the events throughout the journey of the Utah Salt Manufacturing and my stance of the events that occured.
During this time in history, Mormons were persecuted in the East and moved to the west to seek peace. As the Mormons started in the salt manufacturing, Brigham Young and the council of twelve sent off a committee to begin extracting salt on August 9, 1847. As they put this committee to work, they found a large salt bed that was six inches deep and lied between two sandbars. These large salt beds provided them with an abundance amount of salt that it filled ten wagons full of pure salt.
In the Spring of 1850, Charley White created the first regular salt works near the shores of the Great Salt Lake (227). As White would produce the salt, he would manage six sixty-gallon kettles and was able to boil three-hundred pounds of salt per day. Three years later, White had enlarged his operation and was ready to enlarge his market. As he did so, White began to advertising in the Salt Lake City Deseret News. White’s wholesale and retail prices ranged from three different grades of salt, such as, fine, coarse, and common. With Utah struggling with a shortage of currency, White accepted payments either in cash or cattle, grain, flour, butter, pigs, lumber, poles and other survival essential goods.
A decade after being in the Salt Lake Valley and starting the salt manufacturing, the Utah War was taken place in 1857 through 1858. Mormons merchants made money from sales of salt during this time to the United States Army. Commander, Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, feared that the salt was poisoned and refused Young’s offer of assistance. Since the army did not want anything to do with the mormons, the army had to buy illegally sold salt at roaring price ranges (228).
The prices of this illegal salt cost at about seven dollars per pint. In the 1860’s, Mrs. Whites was the only salt company operating. The following year, the operation suddenly closed the following year. Rumors were told that when Mrs. White randomly disappeared, She was murdered for her cattle. Her body is somewhere buried near the site of the crime or possibly in the waters of the Great Salt Lake. This terrible act ended the first try at commercial salt making in the territory. In the Summer of 1847, Morris J. Snedaker, A native from New York, entered into the salt business. On January 15, 1862, he started advertising in the Salt Lake City Deseret News, offering “Fine boiled Salt” in exchange of “all kinds of Grain” (229). The business succeeded briefly, yet a couple months before November of 1864, Snedaker closed down the salt operation and moved out of his log cabin and into a reasonable two-story home with his two plural wifes.
In the beginning of the mid 1860’s, mining camps around butte boomed. On May 10, 1869, the salt industry received another massive boost. In 1870, one of the first firms to invest greatly in salt production on the Great Salt Lake was Jeremy and Company. In 1880, prices for salt varied but on average from $2.50 and $4.00 per ton. Almost for two decades and producing 10,000 tons annually, Jeremy and Company became the largest salt manufacturers in Utah. In 1890, Jeremy and company had some competition on there hands.
The Inland Salt Company produced about 40,000 tons of salt, then doubled it’s outputs to 90,000 tons in 1891. In 1887 the Edmunds- Tucker Act demanded mormon leaders to turn over majority of the church’s property to responsible members and local congregations, in order to avoid confiscation by federal officers. Even though the Edmunds-Tucker Act was enforced, the Inland Salt Company benefited from it (233). On November 1887, James Jack, church treasurer, incorporated the company for $100,000. When he was President, he retained $25,000 worth of stock.
The First Presidency were leading the Stockholders of the company two years later. L. John Nuttall, Secretary of the First Presidency, helped hold part of his stock in trust for the Church. The Inland Salt company became the largest producer in the territory with the help of the church. In 1888 during Inlands first year in operation, the company only used 250 acres. Two years later, it had constructed ponds on 900 acres. As the operation continued, Inland would rely on human and animal power to harvest the salt. While producing fifty tons of salt per day, the Inland refinery was the largest and most modern in Utah Territory. With only being a relatively inexpensive manufacturer, they had well built machinery to do most of the process. On October 1, 1892, former owners of the Inland Salt Company incorporated Inter-Mountain Salt Company. During the Eve of the Great Depression in 1893 and the closing of silver mills, Inter-Moutain had entered into the salt business. Prior to the years of leading into depression, overproduction started to become an issue and created an economic dilemma among many Utah Salt Manufacturers.
Production were falling from 180,946 tons in 1892, to 15,200 tons the following year. Jeremy Salt Company closed down as well as many other small firms (237). Inter-Mountain, was able to meet their consumers request for the refined salt. From the diversity and great quality of its product, Inter-Mountain was able to expand its sales at a time when the other Utah companies had faced foreclosure. When the Church bought a controlling interest for the Inland Crystal Salt Company, the Mormons were able to gain control of the Utah salt industry in 1898. A year later in the spring, Church control over salt production was secure. By the end of the century, The church controlled a great resource on the Great Salt Lake. The Mormons didn’t use it as a united attempt directed at simple self-sufficiency, but used it as a business operation for a profit.
From reading this article, the Mormons were only trying to help and serve others. I am a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. As members, we are taught to help and serve others in need and learn how to be self-sufficient. We are also taught to believe in sustaining our government officials. Previous to this event, Joseph Smith was wanting to be treated fairly and be protected from the mobs who had destroyed or taken there property. The government refused to give Joseph Smith the help that they needed. After that event and others that followed, negative and untrue rumors were spread. For example, Brigham Young was willing to give the United States Army salt, but Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston was worried that the salt would be poisoned (228). Another example is the reasoning on why the Mormons started in the salt manufacturing business.
The Mormons used it as a business operated for a profit so they were able to become self-sufficient (242). From all of the events that have happened leading up to the salt manufacturing, people did not want anything to do with Mormon’s from all the rumors and lies from other people. Mormons are not terrible individuals that others say we are. Mormons want to reach out and help others so we all can become united.