Killed at ye Salt Licks on Siota
From Col. Bouquet's Reports in British Museum (1763-1764)
The City of Jackson was "The Center of Early Salt Boiling" -- as this historic marker on the city limits once declared. There is considerable historical importance attached to the making of salt, and one would wonder where and how this took place.
While white salt boilers found that they could obtain
salt water by digging wells in the alluvium along Salt Lick Creek for a
distance of four miles above and below Jackson, there were but two principal
locations thought worth recording by the federal land surveyors in 1798.
A plat map found at the Jackson County Engineer's Office and, also, at
the Auditor's Office of the State of Ohio shows two easily-located sites
called, "Salt Springs." (Ref.
|Original map of the center of the Scioto Salt Reserve as mapped by Eli Langham, 1798, by order of congress, 1796.|
The other "Salt Springs" shown on the 1798 plat map made by Elias Langham was in the north end of the east half of Section 29 and specifically spotted along the north bank of Salt Lick Creek and east of the mouth of Sugar run. These springs would have been "At the foot of Broadway" as described by early historians and on the site now occupied by the city light plant, equipment parking lot and an active city dump.
There are a surprising number of references to the "Scioto Salt Springs" and "Scioto Salt Works" as they were known to the Native Americans, traders, and settlers until their decline about 1816. At that time “SALT LICK TOWN” became Jackson, Ohio. It is the purpose of the writer to present a wide variety of authentic observations and data on the way the salt springs at Jackson filled the need for salt--the most needed and most scarce commodity on the frontier.
Salt springs were a natural gathering place for grazing animals. These attracted the carnivores. Both attracted the Native Americans for meat as well as salt. The Scioto Licks at Jackson exhibited all the characteristics of this activity, having been available for countless centuries--even preceding the Glacial Period when extinct animals inhabited the region. The impact of European colonization led to its demise. Now increasing urbanization is threatening the final destruction of what remains of the Scioto Licks.
To appreciate the importance and significance of the Scioto Salt Springs, one has to think back beyond 160 years before salt became a common item. Back to the time when people had to rely on natural flowing salt springs at inland locations or transport salt from seaside or saline lakes. Successful drilling for richer brines about 1810 marked an end to the boiling of weak surface salt springs.
The Scioto Salt Springs are but thirty miles from
the glacial front and behind a range of hills which would have provided
somewhat of a barrier to the chilling ice. This fact plus the availability
of low arctic vegetation and the salt springs made conditions favorable
for the survival of prehistoric mammals.
Extensive research in Kentucky at Big Bone Licks has related the above condition to the common occurrence of these extinct creatures who left their bones engulfed in the mud, clay, and gravel at their common meeting grounds--the salt licks. Among the animals listed are: mammoths, mastodons, peccaries, tapirs, Arctic bear, elk, and the phylum of major and minor fauna.
Over the hundreds of thousands of years of the existence of these prehistoric animals, the Scioto Salt Springs was an attraction to them, because there are ample records of their bones being commonly found in digging salt wells in the alluvium.
The Ohio Geological Report of 1838 contains, probably, the most complete and authentic description of prehistoric animals in relation to the Scioto Salt Springs. The geologist, C. Briggs, Hildreth, and others obtained detailed information directly from their learned friend, George L. Crookham. Crookham, a naturalist, teacher and scholar had had the opportunity of examining the many fossil bones and whatever other curiosities the early salt boilers found in the Salt Spring neighborhood. The geological corp in 1837-38, no doubt, quizzed him avidly and felt assured of his accurate observations.
Briggs and the other geologists had the thrill, themselves to unearth the remains of a mammoth skeleton which had been on the way or leaving the Scioto Salt Springs. They learned of the finding of some bones on a branch of Salt Creek in the northwest part of Jackson County about two years previously to the time of their survey (circa 1836). Their subsequent research on the site and recorded observations will be most useful in analyzing the potential for finding similar fossil bones today.
Geologists are stratification experts and, in this case, may have provided the clue to findings in the valley at Jackson. It will be observed in the quotation below from Briggs' report, and his description later in this report that it was found that the Sharon conglomerate rock which is in the bed of the stream at Boone Rocks dips rapidly to the eastward. They discovered this in digging wells to procure a more plentiful quantity of salt water. Briggs explains that the "mud wells" were in stratified layers of clay, sand, and gravel, to a depth of 30 feet. He says that these occupy a basin-shaped cavity in the conglomerate which they identified as the "salt rock." "The brine," he states, "without a doubt, was produced by the percolation of water through the rock into this reservoir."
The stratification record which I wish to call attention to is that record in a plate in the 1838 Geological Report which shows mammoth bones under a stratified layer of clays of various characteristics. These gentlemen successfully dug and recorded their findings at the site of the mammoth find in the north-west part of the county.
As before observed, some of the salt wells in Jackson county were dug in a deposit of clay, sand, and gravel, occupying a basin-shaped cavity in the superior part of the conglomerate. In nearly all these wells were found fossil bones, consisting of jaws, teeth, tusks, vertebrae, and ribs, which, from the descriptions given by Mr. Crookham, belong to extinct species of animals. From his descriptions, remains of the megatherium, and of the fossil elephant, were among the number.
Mammoth, or Fossil Elephant.
In the early 1970s, some bones, so large as to attract the attention of the inhabitants, became exposed in the bank of one of the branches of Salt creek, in the northwest part of Jackson county. They were dug out by individuals in the vicinity, from whom we obtained a tooth, a part of the lower jaw, and some ribs.
In the examinations at this place, during the past season, it was concluded to make further explorations, not only with the hope of finding other bones, but with a view of ascertaining the situation, and the nature of the materials, in which they were found. The mutilated and decayed fragments of the skull, two grinders, two patellae, seven or eight ribs, as many vertebrae, and a tusk. Most of these are nearly perfect, except the bones of the head. The tusk, though it being very frail, it was necessary to saw it into four pieces, in order to remove it.
The following are the dimensions of the tusk, taken before it was removed from the place in which it was found:
Length on the outer curve........10 feet 9 inches.
" " inner curve........ 8 " 9 "
Circumference at base............ 1 " 9 "
" 2 feet from base... 1 " 10 "
" 4 " " ... 1 " 11 "
" 7.5 " " ... 1 " 7.5 "
This tusk weighed, when taken from the earth, 180
lbs. The weight of the largest tooth is 8-1/4 lbs.
These bones were dug from the bank of a creek, near the water, where they were found under a superincumbent mass of stratified materials 15 to 18 feet in thickness. The arrangement of these materials, and the relative position in which these interesting fossils were found in the following layers:
No. 1 is a yellowish clay, or loan, which now forms the surface of swamp about one mile in length, and one-fourth to half a mile in breadth. It is covered with large forest trees, many of which from their size, must have been growing some centuries-- 5-1/2 feet.
No. 2. This layer is a yellowish sandy clay--7- 1/2 feet.
No. 3 is an irregular layer of ferruginous sand, tinged with shades of red and yellow, and partially cemented with iron--4 to 8 inches.
No. 4 is a chocolate colored clay of mud, the inferior part of which contains the remains of a few gramineous plants, very much decayed--2 feet.
No. 5. Sandy clay, colored, like No. 4, but a little lighter--1-1/2 foot.
No. 6 is the stratum containing the bones. It consists, judging from external characters, of sand and clay, containing a large proportion of animal and vegetable matter--1 to 1-1/2 foot.
These bones, from their position, had evidently been subjected to some violence before they were covered with the stratified deposits which have been described.
The jaw and grinders, with the other bones which we have thus slightly noticed, evidently belong to an extinct species of the elephant, now found in a fossil state. As the teeth differ from any which are figured and described in the books to which I have access at the present time, it is possible they may belong to an undescribed species.
The full effects of the glacial period was quite
unknown to the primary geologists of Ohio. They surmised that drainage
patterns had been altered and subsequent depositions partially filled older
valleys. They did not realize the extent of interglacial flooding
which filled pre-glacial valleys, including that of Salt Lick Creek.
As at Big Bone Lick, there would have been a backwater into the tributaries
of the Scioto or earlier Teays River. These periods of deposition
left identifiable stratifications--many with remains of trees, and other
vegetation and animal entrapments.
Briggs' detailed description of these 15 to 18 feet of stratification materials under which the mammoth skeleton was unearthed is a perfect clue to matching strata which might be found in the immediate vicinity of the salt springs at Jackson. Bones and tree parts have been found in deep-buried clay strata in the Hocking and Scioto Valleys which drained from glacial front.
There should be a relationship between the post-glacial deposits at the mammoth site and the salt springs with relation to the possibility of finding other buried fauna.
Salt in Ancient Times
Sodium and chlorine, the two elements which combine to produce a substance called sodium chloride or common salt, are two of the ten major elements necessary for plant and animal life. Animals ingest it as part of the food they eat or they eat it directly to satisfy an inborn desire. A certain level must be maintained in the body for good vigor and growth. Excessive losses must be replaced as from perspiration. The need for salt has caused it to be an important item of trade and political weapon.
The National Geographic of August, 1975, has an article by Georg Gerster picturing salt cakes of ancient style in modern Africa being sold in a market place. He states: “Once, salt was a cargo so precious that 12th century traders reportedly exchanged it for twice its weight in gold. Camel caravans still carry slabs from the Sahara to the Niger, where they are transported upriver to the market at Mopti, Mali.” (Ref. 2)
Salt has left its name on the geography of the earth and in the language. In Italy, one of the oldest roads was called the Via Salaria (salt road). The roads leading to Jackson, Ohio, were once called "Salt Roads." the caravan trade of the Sahara Desert is said to have been a trade in salt. The most prominent salt springs seasonally attracted herds of buffalo, elk, deer, and smaller game which through years of repetitious movement carved an extensive system of traces. Prehistoric and extinct mammals; such as the mastodon, mammoth, giant sloth and bison, no doubt initiated these ancient paths in the Ohio Valley, including those in Jackson County.
Salt Springs and the Native
An official state dig was made at Boone Rocks and several rock shelters in the summer of 1905 under the direction of William C. Mills of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society (ref. 4). His stated objective was "to determine, if possible, whether the rock shelters and other places of abode were occupied for any great length of time as a domicile by prehistoric man or were used as temporary and convenient stopping places for roving banks in search of food." The report by Prof. Mills is to be found in the annual reports of the society in Volume 2, Part 2, 1912. It is entitled, "Certain Mounds and Village Sites in Ohio--Archaeological Remains of Jackson County." This was a separate printing available at the Ohio Historical Society.
Professor Mills' report lauds the richness of the Boone Rocks Site. “It was the best and most favorably known because of the great number of Indian artifacts found in the shelter and in the ground adjacent.” Mills' report indicates that he reviewed the results of private digs in the Boone Rocks site, some of these men having invited the state to include it in their research. A contributor of note was Mr. F. E. Bingman who studied and wrote "Archaeology of Jackson County," published in one of the local papers, beginning of January 9, 1897. Two collectors, Judge H. C. Miller and W. A. Steele presented the major parts of their finds in Boone Rock Shelter Site to the Ohio State Historical Society.
Sad to say, many of the finds by local pot-hunters in this prolific reservoir of Indian artifacts called locally, "The Bone Yard," were carted away and lost. Pictures of Mills' dig show crude methods, common to the time and, undoubtedly, would have missed smaller artifacts which could have been found by screening.
Christopher Gist, a professional surveyor and explorer for The Ohio Company of Virginia (not the later Ohio Company from New England who settled Marietta) was sent on an exploratory trip into the Ohio Country in the winter of 1750-51. His journal (Ref. 5) records his interest in salt springs and describes their characteristics as they appeared in Native American Indian times. Speaking of the Licking River west of modern Zanesville, Ohio, we quote, "Set out SW 25M, to Licking Creek--The Land from Muskingum to this Place rich but broken--Upon the N Side of Licking Creek about 6M from the Mouth, are several Salt Licks, or Ponds, formed by a little Streams of Dreins of Water, clear but of a blueish Colour, & salt Taste the Traders and Indians boil their Meat in this Water, which (if proper Care be not taken) will sometimes make it too salty to eat."
Gist provides the first English description of the Scioto Salt Springs at Jackson when nine days later he had left the Pickaway Plains Indian town of Maguck for Lower Shawnee Town at the mouth of the Scioto River. His party of traders and Indian guides arrived at the Scioto opposite Higby after passing through "fine level Land to a small Town called Harrickintoms" (shown on the 1755 Louis Evans Map). "Friday 25.--The Creek being very high and full of Ice, We coud not ford it, and were obliged to go down it on the SE side SE 4M to the Salt Lick Creek--about 1M up this Creek on the S Side is a very large Salt Lick, the Streams which run into this Lick are very salt, & tho clear leave a blueish Sediment: The Indians and Traders make salt for their Horses of this Water, by boiling it; it has at first a blueish Colour, and somewhat bitter Taste, but upon being dissolved in fair Water and boiled a second Time, it becomes tolerable pure Salt." Later in his journey, Gist was to take note of salt licks in Kentucky and marvel at the huge bones of a large beast found at a "salt Lick of Spring upon a small Creek which runs into the S Side of the Ohio, about 15 M, below the Mouth of the great Miamiee River, and 20 above the Fall of Ohio"--Big Bone Lick.
The Moravian hero-missionary, the Reverend David Zeisberger, labored for fifty active years among the Delaware Indians. Among his many literary accomplishments, being a dedicated diarist and report-conscious churchman, is his, "History of the Northern American Indians," published in the 1910 Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, Vol. XIX, pages 1-189. Written at his mission home near New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1779 and 1780 for his superior of the United Brethren Church, he describes the characteristics and habits of the Native Americans during the Indian-White Contact Period in Ohio and the physical characteristics of Ohio geography. In this treasure-trove is his description of salt springs and the use made of them by Native Americans.
and Ohio History
The history of Ohio is one of rapid technical development. Persons of ingenuity were attracted to the Ohio Country from the earliest times of exploration, settlement, and post-frontier days. They applied themselves to the production of salt.
The first production was for personal use and the live stock industry. When supplies became more available, salt was used for preserving and curing meats and other food stuffs. After human needs were met, salt was used for glazing ceramics and, later, has become the basic ingredient of giant chemical industries.
Production methods progressively improved and richer sources of the mineral were found. The Scioto Salt Springs were the most important source of salt in Ohio until approximately 1816 when it was found that you could drill a hundred feet or more and find richer brines than those which exuded from the surface of the earth. The race from then on is amply documented in the reports of the Ohio Geological Survey.
The first salt well west of the eastern mountains was on the Great Kanawha, where in 1807, a brine was found which only required 200 gallons per bushel of 50 pounds of salt. The first well in Ohio to be successfully drilled was at Gallipolis in 1809 where at 100 feet, they reached water of 400 gallons per bushel. Drilled wells at Jackson did not prove successful which led to the rapid decline of that source, as greatly increased demands for salt had to be met elsewhere (Ref. 3).
Objectives of Congress
The Northwest Territory embraced states which are far beyond the present bounds of Ohio; therefore, the historian will find references to early Ohio in historical accounts of Indians, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Sometimes, those states have more important articles on early Ohio history than we do here, because of such eminent historians as Rueben Thwaites and Frederick Jackson Turner.
Congress determined to have an orderly and, hopefully, profitable disposition of the lands in the Northwest Territory, in contrast to the hetler-skelter, indiscriminate squatter-style of land settlement which had taken place in the individual thirteen colonies and territories. A committee was appointed which in May, 1774, reported, "An Ordinance for Ascertaining the Mode of Locating and Disposing of Lands in the Western Territory." Thomas Jefferson was chairman of that committee(ref. 12).
"The Northwest Land Ordinance" of 1787 was a companion piece of legislation to provide for orderly governance and development of the Northwest Territory. Individual rights were to be protected and private exploitation of limited resources, such as known salt springs, were to be controlled.
of the Original Land Surveys
Jefferson's Land Ordinance Committee established a rectangular system of land subdivision before settlement, rather than to follow the older pattern of indiscriminate land claims. Land grants had to be a subordinate, referenced portion of townships six-mile square. Townships wee subdivided into thirty- six sections of one-mile square. All of this was to be done before claims could be granted.
Nor was that all the government surveyors were to perform in the Northwest Territory. In a stoke of genius, the committee and their first geographer, Thomas Hutchins, listed nineteen categories of physical and natural resource information which the surveyors were to carefully note as they ran their lines from north to south and east to west. This amounted to a resource reconnaissance on a grid sampling system, at one-mile intervals.
Objects and data to be noted included in part: soil, land surface, timber, ground cover, minerals, streams, springs the type, mill sites, roads and trails, natural curiosities (Jefferson had learned of the big bones at Big Bone Lick and many earthworks found in the Ohio Valley), and other data with which to assess the new land.
For a definitive study of the above-mentioned land system, the reader is referred to Beginnings of the American Rectangular Land System, 1784-1800, by William D. Pattison, published by The Ohio Historical Society, 1957. This exhaustive study was begun in London about 1950 and completed as a student of the Department of Geography, University of Chicago, as Research Paper 50 of the University of Chicago Press.
The data gathered by the federal land surveyors in Ohio and elsewhere across the United States has provided some of the most important historical information to be found anywhere on the earth. The worth of it is that it documents findings along the regular lines of the surveys in a statistical manner at a time prior to disturbances by settlers. Rapid changes occurred after settlement in the changing of roads, ground cover, streams and other physical conditions; but one can retrace the original survey lines and rediscover sites mentioned in the original land surveys.
Such is the situation at Jackson, Ohio, in regard to the Scioto Salt Springs. The surveyor's notes from Marietta to Chillicothe to Portsmouth contain numerous references to "The Road from . . . to the Salt Licks on Salt Lick Creek."
The writer's intense interest in the Scioto Salt Springs really stems from the discovery in the Jackson County Engineer's Office of an original plat of Lick Township and copies of the surveyor's notes as they ran the lines of the six-mile square townships and mile-square sections. In 1796, Eli Langham, Deputy Surveyor, ran the boundaries of the equivalent of a whole township surrounding the Licks which became known as "The Scioto Salt Reserve." This was the largest and most important Salt Reserve in Ohio and contained 23,040 acres of land in parts of Lick, Liberty, Franklin and Scioto Townships. Here was the clue where one might find the long-forgotten and neglected salt springs and the trails leading to them from all directions.
The original plat for Lick Township, Township 7, Range 18, with this report (shown above) shows Salt Lick Creek meandering through Sections 23, 20 and 19, the tributaries of Sugar Run and Horse Creek which empty into it, roads heading into the area from six different directions, and, most importantly, two locations marked, "SALT SPRINGS." This map was made by Elias Langham in 1798 as a result of his earlier survey. It conforms to his survey notes which may be examined line by line.
It is easy to relocate the original salt springs on the modern topographic map from the original plat by Langham,. Evidently, these two locations were the sites of the licks from time immemorial, as no other spots are shown.
The set of springs in Section 19 is at the base of Boone Rocks on the outer loop of the stream bed. The old stream bed shows clearly on the modern topographic map where it was before the WPA cut it off by straightening the stream during the thirties. All of the old stream channel can be located from High Street bridge westerly to where it cuts north through the narrows.
The second set of original salt springs as denoted by the surveyors at the time of acquisition from the Indians was in the bottom land east of Broadway Avenue in the north edge of Section 29. It can be seen that they are marked east of Sugar Run as it entered Salt Lick Creek and on the north side of the main stream. Much of this low land has been and is continuing to be filled in by the city with all kinds of trash; however, one can find today pools of water standing in the bottom which may very well resemble the original salt springs. The springs in Section 29 are referred to in the History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region as "The Salt Springs at the foot of Broadway" and it was near these that the hamlet caller "Poplar Row" was established for the convenience of the early white salt boilers.
The federal surveyors provided another unexpected piece of information about the Scioto Salt Springs which was found at the Land Office of the State Auditor of Ohio, Columbus. (The original plats and surveyor's notebooks may be viewed there as well as in the Jackson County Engineer's Office.) In searching through the notes on Jackson County for evidence on the location of Indian paths, I came across a handwritten report by Eli Langham, Deputy Surveyor, dated August 26, 1799, entitled "Observations on the Salt Lick and its Neighborhood". Langham, obviously, had included this technical report as supplement to his survey of the salt lick reservation.
From the copy of Langham's report, one can see that the Scioto Salt Licks were more productive than those at Bullitts Lick and Blue Lick in Kentucky. The third year of operation as a federal reserve showed the expansion above and below the original springs by digging wells in the alluvium. the "Flag Lick" and "Flatt Lick" mentioned were believed by the late James J. McKitterick to be names of early salt boilers.
The trail northeast through Section 20 went out Sugar Run and was called "The Road to Marietta." The Mouth of the Muskingum was another important Indian center.
The "Road to Gallipolis" went south out of Jackson along State Route 93 for a ways and then cut easterly through the Cooper Wild Life Area, rather than following the present U.S. 35. That, too, was an important Indian path as mentioned previously.
The "Road to Sandy" would be the direct path to the Sandy River at present Ashland.
The fork of this path in Section 30 points to the easiest way to walk to the "Mouth of the Scioto"--past JISCO furnace in an almost straight line to Portsmouth.
The "Road to Chillicothe" through the south edge of Section 19 was also referred to as "The Road to Peepee," a stream near Waverly on the Scioto River. To reach chillicothe starting in this direction, one followed ridges past Oakland and reached the Scioto at Higby to approach Chillicothe on the south side of the Scioto River. The latter was called "the Pancake Trail."
There were other minor Indian paths leading to the licks besides the above and others split off in different directions from the main trails a few miles out.
Scioto Salt Reservation Comes to the State
As with Pilate, the Congress washed their hands of the Salt Reservation when they passed the Enabling Act in 1802 to create the State of Ohio. They tied a string to their gift; however, by forbidding sale of any of the 23,040 acres of land surrounding the salt-bearing formations in the valley.
The most avid promoters for statehood were from the Scioto Valley. Historians are familiar with the political intrigue which took place between proponents and opponents in the communities of Marietta, Chillicothe, and Cincinnati. Perhaps, they have never viewed salt as one of the political influences affecting statehood.
It Was Dr. John A. Jakle's thesis that frontier settlement concentrated in areas of salt availability, that it was a medium of exchange, and a factor in the vitality of a region. He states in his dissertation that salt from the Scioto Salt Works supported the live stock industry in the Scioto Valley; and, more than any other commercial activity, sustained the Ohio Valley's urban structure. Much has been written of the early and successful cattle and hog business of the Scioto Valley centering around chillicothe. Salt was vital to the growth of stock and the preserving of the meat for use and shipment. I contend that the nearness of the Scioto Salt Works was an important factor in the vitality of the statehood leaders from Chillicothe who led the fight and secured the Ohio Capitol--until the salt works fell into disuse.
It has been sometimes said that Ohio was made a state without it owning any land within its borders. Congress did retain ownership and continued to sell land through its land offices established by the Land Act of 1796; however, Ohio was granted title to the salt reserves by the Enabling Act of 1802. The second of three propositions offered to the state in Section 7 reads:
of the Scioto Salt Works
The Ohio Legislature lost no time in taking over control of the Scioto Salt Works. On April 13, 1803, An Act Regulating the Public Salt Works was passed . This and subsequent modifications over the life of the operation provided for a bonded resident agent who was forbidden to engage in salt boiling. His office was to be set up in June, 1804, after due public notice. He was authorized to lease small lots for digging of wells in the alluvium and for erecting salt furnaces for boiling. In order to prevent monopoly of companies or individuals, a limit of 120 kettles maximum was set. There was a minimum of 30. A rent of twelve cents per gallon of capacity was charges the first year, but reduced to four cents in 1804 and the amount per lessee limited to 4,000 gallons capacity. In 1805 the rental was reduced to two cents, and in 1810 to five mills.
Modification of the state laws pertaining to the operation of the Scioto Licks were required because of changing conditions, as with all enterprises. Wood for fuel was a critical problem, as the trees nearest the main springs used by the Indians and early settlers were first to go. Use of stone coal, as it was called in contrast to charcoal, was encouraged by a system of rebates. Coal began to replace wood in 1807 as two coal seams were exposed in the nearby hills. One seam had been discovered in digging a salt well in the bottoms.
While there are scattered but detailed accounts of the operations at the Scioto Salt Licks in various reports as listed in the bibliography, one could make a systematic study of the rise and fall of the enterprise by analyzing the sequential acts of the Ohio Legislature. There were no less than fifteen acts passed about the Scioto Salt Works.
One reason for the authenticity of the legislative attempts to cure the problems as they arose at the licks was the fact that Elias Langham, past government surveyor who in 1798 wrote "Observations at the Licks" and surveyed the Salt Reserve, was Speaker of the House for part of the time. It is likely that he kept a close watch on the system from a professional standpoint. The legislature met only thirty miles away.
No doubt, the state agent had his hands full matching lessees with surveyed lots of timber for fuel. Right-of-ways were permitted for conveying salt water in wooden conduits from wells to boilers crossing other leases. Other easements were granted to take the wood to the salt furnaces.
Resident salt boilers needed garden space for subsistence; so in 1804, the agent was authorized to subdivide 800 acres of the reservation into twenty-acre lots for leasing for cultivation.
Timber trespass and uses of wood for other than needs of the salt furnaces were another policing problem for the agent. It is said that state control caused a marked improvement by the displacement of squatter's huts for more substantial cabins near the downtown springs. Tulip poplar trees standing along the hillside facing the stream were cut for cabins--thus the hamlet at that point became known as "Poplar Row." It was later to become the nucleus for the City of Jackson.
Other "hamlets" are reported to have sprung up at the sites of substantial salt boiling furnaces. D. W. Williams in The History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region lists and discusses some of these.
"New Jerusalem" was a large hamlet at the south edge of the salt boiling activity upstream from the main works. The best well in that location is stated to have been near where the railroad crosses State Route 93 on the Infirmary Farm. During the course of this study, and on the basis of the above information, I visited the site and located a mound of burned earth and rocks intermingled with ashes and pieces of clay-bound stones. It is on the east side of the railroad and approximately 100 feet north of the highway. The field is planted to wheat at present. This, most certainly, is the remains of one of the salt furnaces and could yield valuable information of the size and characteristics of them.
There was a third smaller hamlet on Buckeye Creek, west of Jackson, near where John Downey's residence stood. A fourth was on Given's Run where JISCO furnace stands now. Williams lists others up and down the valley, for at times there were as many as twenty furnaces boiling salt.
The City of Jackson grew from the hamlet of Poplar Row, as mentioned. The lay of the land nearby was more conducive for expanding the number of salt wells and furnaces than at Boone Rock vicinity. three tributaries came together making for a wider first bottom into which wells could be dug for finding salt water. Another land factor for the growth of the Poplar Row site was the gently sloping hillside and the extent of relatively- level table land adjacent on which the town now stands. This amounts to approximately one square mile. Section 29, of which the downtown portion of Jackson occupies the northwest quarter, was the only section of the salt reservation which was not divided into 80-acre lots. Sale of lots in Section 29 was permitted in 1816 and the money used for the construction of the courthouse.
It seems apparent that the area adjacent to Boone Rocks was more suitable for itinerant Indian uses for making salt and hunting than might have been the salt springs located in the bottom at the mouth of Sugar run. Both sites were used by the Indians, but more remains to be learned of them at the Boone Rocks. Williams mentions an Indian village site opposite the Boone Rocks near Diamond Town. There is a second bottom adjacent to the old channel below Boone Rocks wherein the salt pans were located which could have been this village site. Houses are on this small rise of land on the east side of the old channel and on the north side of the D.T.&R. RR.
White man's geography, being vastly different than that of the Indian, led to the upgrading of the area adjacent to the "Springs at the Foot of Broadway" and the degrading of the area near the "springs at Boone Rocks."
Williams also mentions an Indian village site in the part of Jackson called Jamestown. This is a logical site for a village as it is on a low rise and immediately adjacent to the springs in the bottom. The site would have been much disturbed by the Star Furnace (blast furnace) and housing. Indians continued to come to the licks to buy salt as long as they continued in operation.
It is reported that the courthouse is located on the highest point of the terrace overlooking the valley below on the exact site used by the Indians to torture their captives. A burning stake was here and probably a place to run the gauntlet. The Great Indian Warpath crossed over the same point.
GEORGE L. CROOKHAM
Indian Methods of Making
Some writers give the impression that Indian use of salt was acquired from the white man. This is probably more of the Anglo-Saxon ego, because evidence at the Scioto Salt Springs and other noted springs speaks otherwise. Zeisberger contradicts himself in his description of salt use and manufacturing by Indians. Jakle quotes a Smithsonian Institution report by H. Kanitz (Annual Report, 1957, pp. 445-53) that small amounts of sodium chloride through consumption of game had been adequate; however, their learned taste for salt from the white man exceeded their capacity for production.
The reported ten feet of midden at the Boone Rock shelter beside the salt springs probably belies the above assumption. The traffic to these salt springs as evidenced by the spokes of paths in all directions with characteristics of antiquity further discounts this theory. The Indians have a record of discreetness about sources of their natural resources.
In the report of Dr. S. P. Hildreth of the First Geological Survey in 1837-38 he states,
Early Settler's Methods
Returning to Hildreth's description of the Scioto Salt Licks in the 1838 Geological Survey we read,
A Summary of the Utilization of the Scioto Salt Springs
Reviewing the geologist's documentation in their 1838 report of the sequence of exploitation at the Scioto Licks we might outline as follows:
1. Animals drank from the salty pools in springs
and potholes in the rocky bed of the stream; and, in dry seasons, munched
the salt-encrusted earth.
2. Indians dipped water from the springs beside Boone Rocks and in mid-town into clay pots and later, iron and brass kettles for boiling by hot rocks and later external heat.
3. Indians improved their technology by chiseling deeper potholes in the soft Sharon Conglomerate bed of the stream to a depth of two feet.
4. Traders, hunters, and the firs salt boilers used the same potholes of the Indians, only they sunk holes to a depth of six or eight feet; finally, up to twenty feet and excluded the surface water with a "gum" or section of hollow tree (black gum) sunk into the cavity.
5. After a few years, the white boilers found they could dig wells in the alluvium higher up the stream above the original springs, which, to their surprise filled with salt water as rich as at the old licks. These reached thirty feet before they reached the sand rock.
6. During the period of greatest production at the Scioto Licks, according to Hildreth's accounts, from 1806 to 1808, there were twenty furnaces in operation. These made an average of from fifty to seventy bushels of salt per week, worth $2,50 per bushel of fifty pounds.
7. "Salt Roads," as they were called, were mere bridle paths. The salt was carried on pack-horses and distributed through the middle and western portions of the state.
8. Salt water was transported in wooden conduits made from boring sections of logs, generally yellow poplar. Brace and bits were used to bore the holes. They were expandable and extendable.
THE DEMISE OF THE SCIOTO SALT WORKS
Technology Off to a
Search for richer brines was the key to lower costs of salt. Six hundred gallons of water would fill twelve of our 50- gallon drums and the thought of converting all of that to steam, leaving a fifty-pound residue would be enough to motivate a person.
The trend at salt springs was to drill or dig for hopefully, richer brines into the soil or rock strata under the springs. The trouble was that they did not know which strata contained the connate salt, for the Ohio Geological Survey was not created until 1837. Only hit and miss methods would tell.
A spring-pole method was modified to drill into the rock. These would have resembled the primitive grain mills. The drilling was slow and laborious. Peattie reported that one well near Zanesville still had its hollow "gum" log in it in 1923.
The rock drilling technique made some unprofitable surface licks profitable and vice versa. Near Gallipolis on Chicamauga Creek in 1807, Fletcher and Tupper worked a surface lick of brine comparable to that at Jackson, 600 gallons per bushel. By drilling to 100 feet in the rock, they procured water which only required 400 gallons per bushel. This was the first attempt ever made in Ohio to reach that depth (ref. 3).
Credit for first boring into rock strata for salt west of the mountains is given to Col. D. Ruffner of Charleston, West Virginia (Virginia at the time), according to Hildreth. He obtained water which required little in excess of 200 gallons per bushel.
The Ohioans were not asleep at the licks. In legislative session at the State Capitol at nearby Chillicothe, inducements were built into the Acts to Regulate the Scioto Salt Works. The 1810 Act contained a section giving any person procuring water of sufficient strength to make a bushel of salt from less than 250 gallons and sufficient to supply 40 kettles, a free lease for ten years. None did.
In 1812 the Legislature appropriated $1,500 which was not taken up. The allowance was dropped back to $750 and William Givens, a Scioto salt boiler, accepted the challenge by drilling to 450 feet, according to Crookham. A stronger water was procured, but it was of small quantity, and did not rise to the surface as it had in wells elsewhere. The geologists theorize that this was due to lack of "carburetted hydrogen gas" (some salt licks gave of mephitic gas, as it was called. Others were called, "Stink Wells" from the sulfurous gases). Force pumps had not yet been invented. This was a crucial factor at the Scioto Salt Works.
With competition from the Kanawha and Gallipolis Salt Works and others soon to follow in Gallia and Meigs Counties, the action at the Scioto Salt Works began to wind down, coming to a halt in 1816.
Stewardship at the Scioto Salt Reserve at Odds with the Times
At a time in the Nation when the greatest opportunity in life lay in acquiring land, the leasing of lands in the salt reserve on short duration amounted to the most depressing kind of tenancy. Stovers' rights were a poor substitute for private ownership.
Poplar Row and its environs had much more going for it than salt manufacturing. Yet no one could buy the land, but only watch it deteriorate from cutting wood for salt furnaces. As Boone had noted, there was much good farm land. In addition, there was coal, iron ore, clay, limestone, and sand-rock in the hills around. The salt industry had actually increased the demand for iron; in fact, some early blast furnaces were called, "Salts," as salt kettles were their main product.
There was traffic through the Salt Works from all directions. Persons travelled from Marietta to Chillicothe by way of the Salt Works, as this was the improved road. Cattle drives passed through on their way to Baltimore. Welsh immigrants were arriving to farm and work in the mines. The "Great Indian War Path" was still a primary migration route, even after thousands of years.
Folks were anxious to put down roots, but the federal government had forbidden any of the 23,040 acres of the six-mile reserve to be sold--only leased on short duration.
Scattered throughout the 1838 First Ohio Geological Survey Report are observations relating to the Scioto Salt Works. At the time of the Survey, the action at the Scioto Licks was past history; however, the procurement of salt was still a prime interest of the geologists. By 1880, the geologists were calling the production of salt in Ohio, "A lost Cause."
The Fourth Assistant Geologist of Ohio, C. Briggs, Jr., in his part of the 1838 report (pages 94-98) analyzes the failure of the deep drilling at Jackson. He also comes up with a new term, "Mud Wells," to denote the wells dug in the alluvium in contrast to those dug in the sandrock.
He explains, "The 'mud wells' were dug to the depth of 24 to 30 feet in clay, and gravel, which occupy a basin-shaped cavity in the superior part of the 'salt rock,' at Jackson--the bring, without doubt, was produced by the percolation of water through the rock into this reservoir."
Briggs' report refers to a plate accompanying his report which contains two items of great interest to this study. The plate is a cross-section of Salt Lick Creek in the northwestern part of Jackson County where fossil bones of a mastodon were unearthed in 1836 and examined by the geologists.
Another plate is a geological section to illustrate the position of rocks in the southern part of the state on a line from Bainbridge through and past Jackson. He shows the salt wells at Jackson, including the deep one to the Waverly formations and a salt well in the Paint Creek valley four miles west of Chillicothe.
Briggs' discussion may explain why no salt is found in measurable amounts in the groundwater near Jackson at the present time, therefore, we include entire remarks:
The determination of the geological position of the strata from which the brine issues, is a matter of high scientific and practical interest, as upon this will depend our success in tracing the muriatiferous rocks, and pointing out situations where explorations for salt water may be made with some degree of certainty.
Water, impregnated with muriate of soda, has been found in all the rocks, from the superior part of the conglomerate down to the great limestone deposit, which is indicated on the profile as underlaying the whole eastern portion of the State. By reference to the plate, it will be seen that these limits embrace the conglomerate, Waverly sandstone series, and the great mass of argillaceous slate or shale, that is immediately superimposed upon the limestone.
In the argillaceous shale (vide c, figure 4, of the plate) salt water has been obtained in several places by boring; but it was so deficient in quantity and strength that it could not be used profitably in the manufacture of salt. One of these wells was bored in the valley of Paint Creek, about three or four miles west of Chillicothe. Its position is indicated on the profile, to which reference has been made, by the perpendicular line aa.
Brine has been obtained in the Waverly sandstone series, by sinking through the conglomerate at the licks in Jackson county, and good water obtained, but not in quantity sufficient to be profitably used in competition with the Kenawha salt wells, in Virginia. The salines at Jackson, early attracted the attention of the western pioneers; and from them, alone, was obtained most of the salt used in the early settlement of the State. They were finally abandoned, in consequence of much stronger bring having been obtained in Virginia. These wells, with the exception of those called "mud wells," wee commenced in the superior part of the conglomerate, which, on this account, was denominated the "salt rock," They varied in depth from 10 to 450 feet, with no sensible improvement in the strength of the brine, except in the deepest, which was bordered at the expense of the State; and in this, no difference was observed in the saturation of the water, till the strata had been penetrated 350 feet, when it continued to improve, till the work ceased. Mr. George Crookham, by whom the information in regard to these wells was communicated, say he thinks the brine, at the depth of 350 feet, was equal in strength to that used on the Kenawha, but that the quantity was comparatively small. This well, which penetrates the Waverly sandstone series, is indicated on the profile by the perpendicular line bb.
The valuable salt wells on the Hockhocking river, five miles west from Athens, were commenced in the superior part of the series, indicated on the profile by the letter F. The water from these wells is said to be equal, in every respect, to the best wells on the Kenawha, yielding about ten per cent of salt. These wells are about 430 feet in depth; a distance sufficient to penetrate the conglomerate, and, perhaps, to reach the Waverly sandstone.
All those wells which were commenced in strata in a geological position below those before mentioned on the Hockhocking River, are deficient in the strength of the brine. The principal cause of this may be found in the fact, that they were situated so far west, as to be too near the outcropping edges of the muriatiferous strata; in consequence of which, the water, before rising to the surface, could not percolate a sufficient distance through the strata to become thoroughly impregnated with saline matter.
From the facts which have been stated, it may be inferred that locations for salt wells, to be the most judicious, should be higher in the series than the conglomerate, and on those streams which flow across the country in an easterly direction, or nearly in the line of dip. And as some of the strongest brine has, probably, been obtained in the conglomerate, the wells should be bored so deep as to penetrate that stratum.
There are other circumstances which influence the quantity and strength of brine, besides those which have been stated. Among these may be mentioned fissures and undulations in the strata, and the relative amount of saline matter in the muriatiferous rocks at different localities; in consequence of which, some uncertainty will always attend boring in search of salt water.
THE YEARS FOLLOWING THE EXISTENCE OF THE SALT WORKS IN JACKSON COUNTY
Here ends my 1977 report on the Scioto Salt Springs and Salt Works.
I believe strongly that the importance of salt in the history and development
of Southeastern Ohio is grossly ignored and have been working for years
for its proper recognition. Click here for my vision:
Ref. 1 Book of Original Plat Maps for Jackson County. Located in the County engineer's Office. Lick Township Plat, Twp. VII, Range XXVIII, was made and surveyed by Elias Langham, Deputy Surveyor in May, 1798. The Township was subdivided by James Denny in 1805. Supporting field notes are found in the State Suditor's Office, Columbus, OH. (Return Ref. 1 text)
Ref. 2 Gerster, Georg, "River of Sorrow, River of Hope," National Geographic, August, 1975, pp 163-165. (Return Ref. 2 text)
Ref. 3 First Annual Report of the Geology of Ohio, W. W. Mather, et al, 1838. Ref. 3 is to Dr. S. P. Hildreth's Report on the Salines of Ohio which he had visited. pp 57-68. Hildreth received his information about the early operations of the Scioto Salines from George L. Crookham, salt boiler and eminent teacher of natural history in Jackson. (Return Ref. 3 text)
Ref. 4 Mills, William C., "Archaeological Remains of Jackson County," Certain Mounds and Village Sites in Ohio, Vol. 2, Part 2, 1912, pp 61-100. (Return Ref. 4 text)
Ref. 5 Darlington, W. M., ed., Christopher Gies's Journals, Pittsburg, PA, 1893, pp 42-43. (Return Ref. 5 text)
Ref. 6 Zeisberger, David, "A History of the Indians," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, 1910, pp, 1-189. Written 1779-1780. Edited by Archer Butler Hulbert and William Nathaniel Schwarze, 1909. (Return Ref. 6 text)
Ref. 7 Onondaga county Bark System Bulletin, Eighteenth Ed., 1965, Onondaga County Division of Parks and Conservation, Liverpool, NY (Return Ref. 7 text)
Ref. 8 Myer, William E., "Indian Trails of the Southeast," Bureau of Ethnology 42nd Annual Report, 1928, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC, pp. 727-854. (Return Ref. 8 text)
Ref. 9 Williams, Daniel W., Ed. "History of Jackson County," A Standard History of THE HANGING ROCK IRON REGION OF OHIO, 1916, The Lewis Publishing Co.
Ref. 10 Galloway, Willian A. T. Old Chillicothe, Shawnee and Pioneer History, 1934, The Buckeye Press, Xenia, Ohio, p. 260. (Return Ref. 10 text)
Ref. 11 Flint, Timothy, The Life and Adventures of Danial Boone, 1868, Hurst & Co. p.142. (Return Ref. 11 text)
Ref. 12 Manual of Surveying Instructions for the Survey of Public Lands of the United States and Private land Claims, Commissioner of the GHeneral land Office, 1902, Govt. Printing Office. (Return Ref. 12 text)
Ref. 13 Pattison, William D. Beginnings of the American Rectangular Land Survey System, 1784-1800, 1957, The Ohio Historical Society. (Return Ref. 13 text)
Ref. 14 Jakle, John A., Salt on the Ohio Valley Frontier, 1770-1820, American Geographical Society Journal, December ?. Accepted for publication May 23, 1968. Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, 1967, pp 687-705. (Return Ref. 14 text)
Ref. 15 Peters, W. E., Ohio Lands and Their History, Athens, Ohio; W. E. Peters, 3rd Edition, 1930. (Return Ref. 15 text)
Ref. 16 Bond, Beverly, Jr. The Foundations of Ohio, Vol. I of History of Ohio, 1941, The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio. Reprinted by the Ohio Historical Society, 1968. (Return to Ref. 16 text)
Ref. 17 Bothwell, Charlotte E., Personal Recollections given to Henry Howe in 1874 when she was 86 years of age. Historical Collections of Ohio, Henry Howe, 1896, Wol. II, pp 733-34. The Lanning Printing Company, Norwalk, Ohio. (Return Ref. 17 text)
Ref. 18 Utter, William T., The Frontier State: 1803-1825, A History of the State of Ohio, Vol. II, 1942, The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, Reprinted by The Ohio Historical Society, 1968. (Return Ref. 18 text)
Ref. 19 Martzloff, Clement L., Fifty Stories From Ohio History, 1917, Ohio Teachers Publishing Company. pp 133-136, "The Salt Boilers." (Return Ref. 19 text)
Ref. 20 Peattie, Roderick, Geography of Ohio, Geological Survey of Ohio, 1923, Fourth Series, Bulletin 27, Columbus, Ohio. (Return Ref. 20 text)
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