Salt production was not native to Taiwan. The island’s early indigenous inhabitants exchanged local products for salt from foreign trade vessels. Throughout the Dutch colonial period, the majority of salt supplies to the island still came from foreign sources; however, literature of that era documented the cooking of sea water to extract salt, and the construction of salterns in the vicinity of the Laikou area, near Kunshen Seven, at the southernmost tip of the Taijiang Inner Sea. Laikou derives its name from its topography and its location near an estuary: the character “lai” in “Laikou” originally referred to water rushing over sandy or rocky shallows. This was where Taiwan’s earliest saltern was established.
According to folklore, Chancellor Chen Yong-Hua of the Kingdom of Tungning (1661 to 1683) instructed the public on methods of modifying the salterns in order to draw in seawater to be dried by the sun. It was then that the Laikou Saltern was reconstructed, and new salterns were built in Zhouziwei to boost production and quality. This harkened the beginning of the solar evaporation salt industry in Taiwan. Four salterns were in operation between the late Kingdom of Tungning period to the early Qing Dynasty, these include: the Zhoubei Saltern and Zhounan Saltern, located on Zhouziwei; the Laibei Saltern, formerly known as Laikou Saltern; and the Lainan Saltern located in Dagoau of Xinlung Village (Kaohsiung). Prior to this, the saltern in Laikou was the only saltern in Taiwan. It was destroyed by a flood in 1735, then subsequently reconstructed by salt farmers at a location north of the original saltern (near the Tainan Yancheng today), and renamed Laibei Saltern.
During the Qing Dynasty and the Japanese colonial period, many new salterns were constructed while old ones fell into disuse, yet other were relocated due to flooding, throughout the years, only the Laibei Saltern in Yancheng, Tainan remained at the same location where it continued in solar evaporation salt production. After the Japanese colonial period, it was renamed the Yancheng Saltern and remained in use until 1971, when the Tainan City Government decommissioned the saltern to make way for the construction of Anping Industrial Park as well as for urban development and rezoning. The Laibei Saltern was then relegated to history.
New settlements in Yancheng were established with the reconstruction of the Laibei Saltern, however, the place name and settlement of “Laikou” remained unchanged into the early 20th century, when topographical maps of Tainan still depicted the north-to-south distribution of the Laikou settlements. Today, the old settlements of Laikou have all but vanished. This commemorative plaque marks the location of the original Laikou settlements.
The Laikou Saltern Commemorative Plaque, erected at the end of Lane 615, Section 2 of Yongcheng Road (22°57'13.1"N 120°11'33.3"E)