The town of Prešov is the first stop of my salt experience. Here, I was lucky enough to talk personally to Gejza Markovič, who has been a director of a former Slovak salt works for 25 years and an author of the idea of erecting a new salt works in Zbudza.
Mr. Markovič described me kindly all the political manipulations, illegal money transactions and a chain of events which lead to the salt works closure. Although I have already read plenty of articles picturing the situation, each of them slightly changed some details and today I could finally understand the whole story. Mr. Markovič got fired after he refused to sell the salt works to the private owners and wished to keep it in the state ownership – that day started ‘the beginning of the end of Slovak salt production’.
During our talk, Mr. Markovič also remembered the days when the salt works was still operating. He told me about the trips he organized together with his employees, about a strong community feeling, and about the difficult time when he started as a new director - a stranger, who did not come directly from Solivar municipality.
When I asked him about how he sees the current situation in Prešov and the possibilities in Zbudza, he replied:
„We would be naive to think that salt production could start ever again in Prešov. The salt in that deposit is not of a very hight quality and would not be economically profitable. However, the salt layer in Zbudza is formed of 70 % pure NaCl, and is 200m thick. There is a big potential for profit. Moreover, its location between a chemical plant in Strazske and other industries in Michalovce increases its efficiency. Chemical plant in Strazske together with its built railway track and empty factory blocks could become a suitable site for a new salt works.“
I introduced him my idea of a ‘salt experience’, which he found interesting. He even mentioned there was an idea of a cooperation between Solivary salt works and baths in Sobrance, the last point of my journey. He also supported the idea of a new brine baths, which he also wished to build, but was never realised.
After my talk with Mr. Markovič, I spent the rest of the day in Prešov and enjoyed the atmosphere of its historic city centre.