Progressive Era to New Era Pickles


From the late 1800s until around 1930, Stafford County was one of the leading producers of pickling cucumbers in the state of Virginia.  Stafford was known as the Pickle Capital of America! In 1903, 97% of Stafford farms produced 2/3rds of all the cucumbers for pickles shipped from Virginia. As early as 1893 there was a pickle-brining operation in Brooke. There were various companies that ran operations in Brooke even until the 1930s. Cucumbers would be placed in vats that were 10 ft. in diameter and almost as high. The vats would then leave on railroad cars and be taken for further processing. There was also another pickle factory in Falmouth. Growing cucumbers and making pickles was a thriving industry in Stafford.

Nearly everyone with a few acres to spare grew cucumbers and sold them either to the Brooke Pickle Factory at Brooke or to a similar facility in Falmouth.  A September 1901 newspaper notice stated,

“‘Tis said one of our Onville friends met with quite a mishap going to the factory with a load of pickles some time since; one of the barrels upset, throwing the pickles to the ground, all of which had to be picked up and wiped off, one by one; the sun was so hot before our friend got thorough, that when he arrived at the factory he came near passing himself off for a pickle, so well was he ‘cured’ by the sun” (Free Lance, Sept. 19, 1901).

This little blurb was written by Charles Adams Bryan (1849-1918) who was for many years clerk of the court for Stafford.  He was a regular contributor of little “newsy” and humorous articles to the Free Lance newspaper and wrote under the pen name Scribbler.