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Inquire Indiana: How Did Salt Creek Get Its Name?

Bloomington resident Richard Ciasto, left, wanted to know how Salt Creek got its name. Reporter Becca Costello, right, found the answer. (Sean Hogan, WFIU/WTIU News)

Richard Ciasto wanted to know: How did Salt Creek get its name?

So he asked us to find out for him as part of our new journalism project Inquire Indiana.

Ciasto grew up canoeing on Salt Creek, and fishing on the southern tip of Lake Monroe. And he’s heard some rumors about where this creek got its name.

“Potentially there was some kind of farming accident or where some pollutants were released,” Ciasto says. “I’m not exactly sure why that would be salty or make it be called Salt Creek.”

The true story is a little less dramatic. To find out, we asked a local expert: Donn Hall, Salt Creek Township Trustee and a history professor at Ivy Tech Community College.

Hall has lived in the township for 27 years, which he says makes him a newcomer to this close-knit community.

He tells us that the name Salt Creek comes from what was discovered along its banks.

“People were drawn to this area originally because deer were attracted to the salt that became encrusted along the banks of the creek that ran from north to south,” he says.

Six women and two men along the bank of Salt Creek, circa 1900 (Monroe County History Center)

Around 1822, two men dug a well and found brine, a salt and water mixture that can be boiled down to make edible salt.

The men established a salt production business that brought a lot of commerce to the area for several years.

“In the early Colonial days, and then in the early National period when this area was being filled up with people, salt was a precious commodity,” Hall says. “It was hard to get a hold of.”

One of the first roads in Monroe County was petitioned to go from Bloomington out to the salt works.

A map of Salt Creek Township showing the creek running north to south. The creek is now split into two forks by Lake Monroe. (Monroe County History Center)

Within a few years, officials established the township and named it for the salt production.

Eventually the business shut down, but the name Salt Creek became a permanent part of this community’s history.

And it’s something that Ciasto can now share with others.

“I guess maybe I should have known that growing up here,” he says. “But I will definitely tell people that I know the reason now.”

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