Carey Salt Company

Howard J. Carey took over the salt company when Emerson Carey passed away in 1933. Under his administration, departments were formed and important upgrades made to the facilities to increase production. After he retired, it was his son Howard J. “Jake” Carey’s turn. In 1969, the Carey family sold the Hutchinson facilities, which by this time included the evaporation plant and the mind and the Hutchinson and Northern Railway (H&N) to the Interpace Corporation.

By the 1920’s, he had scores of salt products to sell but saw a real need for rock salt to supplement some of his other products, particularly in the agricultural market. In April 1922, the Carey Salt Company announced plans to dig a shaft nearly one mile east of his new state-of-the-art evaporating plant. A total of $300,000 of 7 percent preferred stock would be sold to finance the project. In two days, the issue was oversubscribed, and just over a year later, the mine opened amid much fanfare.

The Carey Salt Company came to include Carey’s first plant at Avenue C and Main Street in Hutchinson (which quit producing salt in the 1920’s), the newer east evaporation plant, and the mine. In 1931, to tap into markets in the south, Carey opened a rock salt mine in Winnfield, Louisiana, and then in the 1960s the Cota Blanche evaporating plant and mines, also in Louisiana. By that decade, consumers could purchase Carey Salt in 27 states and into Latin America.

Barbara C. Ulrich, The Carey Salt Mine (Charleston SC, Chicago IL, Portsmouth NH, San Francisco CA, Arcadia Publishing, 2008), 7-8

Over the next two decades, the mine and evaporation plant changed hands several time. Interpace sold to Process Minerals, which sold to the North American Company. In 1992, the Hutchinson Salt Company purchased the mine only, breaking apart the mine and evaporation plant for the first time. But in the minds of many, it remains Carey Salt.

Carey owned several businesses throughout his lifetime, including a strawboard and egg case filler plant, a railroad, a bag company, an ice and cold storage company, a coal company, a newspaper, a printing company, a construction materials company, a sale company and a cemetery. All those businesses were successful, but none was as well known as the Carey Salt Company. Like all the other salt companies, he first sank some brine wells into the salt bed and began his evaporating plant.


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