Salt Beacon From the Late 1600s
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Located on the edge of Williamstown is a marker that returns one’s thoughts to the days of the great sailing ships. Known as the “Salt Beacon”, this 30 foot tall Tuscan styled column sits on a high hill overlooking the lovely Bahamian turquoise seas. Not much is known about its origin but its purpose is clear. It acted as a marker for sailing ships to navigate to a point where they could harvest salt, an essential commodity to the crew’s survival for long voyages. For thousands of years, prior to refrigeration, salt was the only element that would allow food (fish, meats) to be stored for long periods without spoiling. Hence it was essential to any voyage of substantial duration.
True to its name the Salt Beacon stands on a hill adjacent to a number of shallow salt ponds. These unique environments allowed for the gathering and harvesting of sea salt from its natural liquid state. Though rather small in stature it is estimated that these ponds could produce significant amounts of salt, perhaps 10 tons annually, which placed them into the range of commercial production.
Today the road into Williamstown goes directly by the beacons hill. So take a little time to climb to the top where the beacon is located. It is not a challenging walk, and the views make it all worthwhile. Settle back, enjoy the breeze and drift back to the days of the great sailing ships.