The Scioto Salts Licks, located in and around Jackson, is an area where naturally occurring salt water, known as brine, flowed to the surface as a salt-water spring. It is known that the spring existed since the Pleistocene Ice Age because numerous bones, probably including those of mammoth and ground sloth, were excavated there. Native Americans obtained salt here for at least 8,000 years and did so until 1795 when the Treaty of Greenville separated the Native American and European populations. Early pioneer settlers utilized the licks in the second half of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, constructing salt furnaces that extended for four miles up and down Salt Lick Creek. Salt was a precious and necessary commodity, and the early settlers in the area profited from its trade.
Joseph Conklin from Mason County, Kentucky, who came to this area in 1795, is credited with being the first American to establish a salt operation at the Scioto Salt Licks. Conklin was a squatter and did not own the land. In 1803, soon after Ohio became a state, the new legislature passed an act regulating salt works, thereby forbidding the state from selling salt lands. Therefore Conklin and others who followed leased the land for their salt operations. Salt production reached its peak between 1808-1810 with hundreds of men producing 62,000 bushels annually. Richer and more cheaply produced salt brine was discovered in what is now West Virginia. Wells sunk to reach stronger brine here proved unsuccessful. In 1826, a salt agent's legislative report stated, "The making of salt at the Scioto Salt Works has been entirely abandoned."