Side A: Salt was an important commodity to early settlers because of its use in daily living. In 1814 Silas Thorla and Robert McKee dug a well in search of salt brine. They discovered salt and, by accident, discovered oil. Oil’s value was known to them so they had to separate the oil from the salt water by soaking the oil up from the surface with blankets. The oil was wrung from the blankets, bottled as “Seneca Oil,” and sold as a “cure all.” The remaining brine was boiled down to extract the salt.
Side B: Oil and gas caused many problems for Thorla and McKee. Sometimes pressure built up and shot salt water forty feet into the air, or oil would take the place of salt water in the well. Frustrated, they drilled a second well in 1816, not far from the first. This well was cased with a large hollow sycamore tree and is preserved on this site. A large salt works was set up and salt was manufactured around the clock. The well also produced one barrel of oil a week. The operation continued until in 1831 fire destroyed the works. From 1883-1928 the Bellaire, Zanesville, and Cincinnati Narrow Gauge Railroad ran through this location. The raised railroad bed is still visible near the well.