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Back button | Home | Social History Dayton or Bust. Day 10
Image: Michael de Greasley See also Dave's blog on New Lanark to Saltaire

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Dayton or Bust! The blog of 2 Saltaire historians on an American Adventure

Day 10: The Main Day! – Celebrating the presentation of land to the State of Tennessee - and wishing Denys Salt a Very Happy Birthday
Friday 4th May

The invitation to attend the above event is what had led us to come to Tennessee. This was to be the day. Dayton’s development in the 1870s & 1880s was very much a result of the efforts of the Salt family - in particular Titus Salt Jr, helped by Salts Mill stalwart Charles Stead.

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Trail Head Display Panel

Coal & iron extraction at the site had finally ended in the second decade of the 20th century, after which time ownership of the land had passed through various hands before those of the Gardner family, the owners since the 1940s.

Charles Gardner
Charles Gardner with early photo of Dayton mining activity

The family were hoteliers, not seeking to exploit the area of natural beauty in which it sits. Much of the Richland Creek site has now been reclaimed by nature, leaving it a popular place to visit for recreation and walking. It is now known by the great name of the “Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness”. Today’s celebrations marked the acquisition of the site by Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail authority.

Cumberland Trail Park Raingers, Dan and Andy
David with Cumberland Trail Park Rangers Dan & Andy

The day was marked by the formal ceremony with speeches from several dedicated supporters of the Cumberland Trail.

David King and historian, Jaime Woodcock
David King with historian Jaime Woodcock

Our UK knowledge of the Dayton venture owes a huge amount to the researches of William Wade here in Dayton. Having corresponded by email for five years, to meet William in person was a great privilege and we thank him now for his outstanding work.

Meeting Dayton Coal & Iron Co Historian William Wade
Dave Shaw (L) meeting Dayton Coal & Iron Co historian, William Wade

The day was auspicious for another reason – it was the 94th birthday of Denys , grandson of Titus Jr. Denys wasn’t able to travel from his home in Austria, but was with us in spirit, & the Dayton community had taken it upon themselves to find a way of saying “Happy Birthday” – see the photo!

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Happy Birthday Denys - 4th May, 2012
From your Dayton and Saltaire friends.

Also during the day we were given a well-informed tour of the site by William – a first chance for us to really learn about the huge scale of the Salt’s Dayton venture. William’s researches confirm what we had thought – the investment here was on a similar scale to that involved in developing the whole of Saltaire!

Bob recording William outside a coke oven

Entrance to Dixon Slope Coal Mine
Entrance to the Dixon Slope Coal Mine

A great evening was spent at the Signal Mountain Opry in Chattanooga. Needless to say when Bob walked in his Rangers uniform, there were instant calls of recognition & requests for him to get on stage with his banjo. Still no banjo music from Bob…

Mountain Opry, Signal Mountain, Chattanooga
Mountain Opry, Signal Mountain, Chattanooga

Finally … Shipley College is famous the world over – the receptionist at our hotel in Chattanooga was educated there! He was as surprised as us to be meeting two Bradford lads. His cousin works in Saltaire, so we’ll be calling on him when we get back home to say hello.

Tomorrow we’re exploring further the site, with more coke ovens to see on the other side of the creek.

David & Dave

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Bobby Fulcher
To: Denys Salt
Cc: Dave Shaw
Sent: Saturday, 5 May 2012, 4:51
Subject: Birthday in Dayton

Dear Mr. Salt:
Today was a wonderful celebration of the accomplishments of the Dayton Coal and Iron Company and of those that followed in ownership of the Morgantown Gulf, now Laurel-Snow State Natural Area in Dayton. The city leaders of Dayton and representatives from throughout Tennessee joined in wishing you well on your 94th Birthday. I hope you can look at the attached photographs.

Mr. Shaw and Mr. King were generous and charismatic and made many friends and admireres here. Thank you for your note and for your interest in the Cumberland Trail.

Best wishes to you,
Bob Fulcher, Park Manager







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