Big Bone Salt Springs (Boone County, Ky.)



Big Bone Salt Springs (Boone County, Ky.)

Alternate name

Big Bone Lick (Ky.)


The most famous landmark of the Big Bone area, it is now the site of a state park. The salt lick, or lick, as it is more generally known here, was long known to the original inhabitants of the area. It was discovered by people of European descent about 1735, the first recorded instance being one Robert Smith, an Indian trader.
The extraordinarily large bones of mammoths and mastodons found in the swamps around the salt lick frequented by animals, who need salt in their diets, was the most notable feature to be found in the entire geographical region. Even the first maps noted it as “the place the big bones are found.” It was a source of huge bones for paleontologists for several centuries.
General George Rogers Clark may have visited Big Bone Lick, a topic on which he corresponded with President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson made the following request in one of his letters: “Any observations of your own on the subject of the big bones or their history, or on any thing else in the Western country, will come acceptably to me, because I know you see the works of nature in the great, and not merely in detail. Descriptions of animals, vegetables, minerals, or other curious things, notes as to the Indians, information of the country between the Missisipi (sic) and waters of the South set &c. will strike your mind as worthy being communicated. I wish you had more time to pay attention to them.”
The area is rich in history, and was the site of a “Watering Place”, a hotel that catered to the well-to-do in the early part of the nineteenth century. There have been at least three hotels associated with the springs.

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Ingles, Mary Draper Related resource Person
Big Bone Springs Health Resort (Big Bone, Ky.) Related resource Location
has site
Title Alternate label Class
Big Bone Springs Mineral Water Company (Big Bone, Ky.) Has site Organization