Nashville Salt Therapy History


Before Nashville began, the land on which the city rests was a hunting ground for Native Americans, who tracked the animals drawn to the salt lick and sulphur spring that lay just east of the site of the Bicentennial Mall near what is now Fourth Avenue North.Today the Lick Branch stream courses twenty-five feet beneath the Mall, flowing into the Cumberland River through a massive, brick-lined culvert.

Christine Kreyling Nashville Civic Design Center

1600s-1700s: Seeking game attracted to salt licks around present day Nashville, Native Americans such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee hunt seasonally in the area. French Lick is a popular area just north of present day Nashville.

1710: Recognizing French Lick as a gathering area for hunters, French trader Charles Charleville establishes a trading post--exchanging goods with tribes in the area.


The earliest Europeans in what would become Nashville were French fur traders such as Jean du Charleville (aka Charles Charleville), who in 1710 established a trading post at a natural sulphur and saline spring near what is now Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. The natural salt lick attracted animals, which in turn attracted Native American hunters with whom the French could trade, and the area became known as "French Lick." This same portion of Nashville would later be known as Sulphur Spring Bottom and Sulphur Dell.


About Lockeland Springs - The neighborhood takes its name from Lockeland Spring, which in turn is named after the Lockeland Mansion, located beside it and named by Col. Robert Weakley for his wife, Jane Locke. The Lockeland Spring gained fame around the turn of the century when James Richardson purchased the mansion and, realizing the spring water was full of lithium salts, began bottling it for sale.***GO TO LINK AND SEE RECENT ARTICLE IN EAST NASHVILLIAN about Lockeland Springs.

 Mental Floss

bottling it for sale.

"These hip-before-their-time H2O purveyors were called Lockeland Springs Water, the “spring” in the title being what’s called a pioneer spring. This pioneer spring served what was called Lockeland Mansion. The mansion, formerly located on the site that’s now the Lockeland Elementary Design Center, was named by Col. Robert Weakley in the 1790s after his wife’s maiden name. Until it was folded into Nashville in 1905 (or 1906, depending on whose account you believe), Lockeland was its own separate entity, used as a country getaway for people living in the far-off environs of, say, Midtown or West End.

     Anyway: fresh clean air, and crisp, cool running water. Idyllic, right? Well, as usually happens with good things, someone came along — the aforementioned Lockeland Springs Water company — and saw money to be made. The springs on the old Lockeland property, as it turned out, boasted dissolved lithium salts. A speculator named James Richardson bought the old Lockeland mansion and eight of its acres in 1900 and bottled the water, touting it as a general elixir and balm, good for what ailed you, headaches to heart trouble. Richardson prided himself on the quality of both his water and his business, as the advertisement at the end of this story indicates.

     His pride was not misplaced: The water won the grand prize at the St. Louis Exposition (you know it as the World’s Fair) in 1904, for its “unique mineral composition and salubrious quality.”

The East Nashvillian -  Timothy Davis

From: Early History of Nashville


Near the foot of that hill was a very muddy place All around it and in it were buffalo and elk and deer pushing and crowding each other to get something Some were stamping and bellowing and pawing the ground To save their own lives the men had to get out of the way of those great beasts So they went up on the hillside south of the valley and waited After a while when the crowd of animals went away the men went down into the valley They found that clear sparkling water was oozing up from that muddy place On tasting it they found it was strong salt water clear and cold So this wonderful place in that low valley these men called The Salt Lick Was not that a good name for it The creek was not the branch running from the Lick The creek water was fresh not salt water But because the creek ran so near the Lick it was called Lick Branch That high hill south of the Lick had a round top like a knob It had many cedar trees growing upon it as well as forest trees so this hill they called Cedar Knob And now you must know where the hunters were Yes the place where all the animals were crowding was our Sulphur Spring Those men were in our Sulphur Spring Bottom Note There used to be much more salt in the water than there is now The cause of the change is another story

Page 34-- Early History of Nashville


There are many fine mineral springs about Nashville Now salt was needed at all the stations It was very much wanted The men at the Bluff and at Freeland's lost no time in trying the water of the French Lick And some good salt was soon packed away in gourds ready for use It was made in the Bottom near the Lick A large iron kettle was filled with water from the spring A fire was built under the kettle It was kept burning so that the water boiled a long time The water turned into vapor and

went off into the air After a while the water had all gone The salt that had been in the water was left in the bottom and on the sides of the kettle Why did it not rise with the vapor A big kettle full of water left very little salt So many kettles full had to be boiled before those gourds could be filled And very carefully were the gourds placed on the high shelf in the cabin on the Bluff So the first thing of this kind made in Nashville was salt and there near our Sulphur Spring was the first salt works Gasper Mansker wanted to get some salt near his station So it was decided to try Mr Neely's spring first This is up the river near the bank We now call it Larkin Spring Early one morning old Mr Neely went to this spring to stay several days trying the water Some of the men from Mansker s went with him His young daughter went with her father to do the cooking One day while the kettle was boiling well the men went off to cut some wood They had made a half faced camp Old Mr Neely was tired and had gone to sleep in the camp under the low shelter of boughs and twigs His daughter was busy cleaning up and getting ready to cook dinner She was singing all the time singing the songs of Zion which her mother had taught her Her voice was sweet and loud It could be heard afar off in the woods….