Salt Pickers of Sint Maarten

My Alaska cousin and I, Zeb the Duck, viewed this monument near Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.   

Tribute to Salt Pickers

Tribute to Salt Pickers

 We did not know what a salt picker was.  Now we do and we want to refresh your memory of history also.

From 1624, when the Dutch found the Great Salt Pond until the 1960s, salt production defined the history and economy of St. Maartin.  Free people and slaves from the Dutch and the French side of the island completed the hard work of harvesting salt.

Salt has always been important to the island.  The Arawaks called the island Soualugia.  Soualugia means land of salt.

The Dutch side of the island farmed and exported as much as 400 boatloads of salt per year.  Wow!  That is more than one boatload every day.

Monument to Salt Pickers in St. Maarten

Monument to Salt Pickers in St. Maarten

Salt is collected as the sun causes the seawater to evaporate, leaving salt crystals.  One method involved shoveling and scraping the salt crystals from the ground.  Another process involved putting stakes in the salt ponds.  As the water evaporated, salt crystals remained on the stakes.  The clumps of salt crystals were removed by hand (called reaping) and used or exported.

The salt pickers are honored in St. Maartin by this monument near the Great Salt Pond.  St. Maartin and the world owe much to these salt pickers of years gone by.  I, Zeb the Duck, and my Alaska cousin

Zeb the Duck with Alaska cousin.

Zeb the Duck with Alaska cousin.

 are in awe of all they accomplished through hard work and sincerely appreciate their efforts.


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