Situated in the valley of Sunday Creek, the Burr Oak area was inhabited by Indians and, later, by settlers who found an abundance of game animals and the resources necessary for survival in the Ohio wilderness.
Coal, one of Ohio's most important mineral resources, was mined here for many years. As mining operations expanded, mining towns grew and prospered. Few of these mining towns were as notorious as the village of San Toy.
Many colorful tales were told of life in San Toy. In the true spirit of frontier life, so the story goes, a gunfight was once held over a $20 debt. The street was cleared as the two participants met for a showdown. The ensuing battle left both men lying in the street--one dead and the other critically wounded. The "Old West" came to life in Ohio when the coal company payroll was robbed by bandits who made a horse-mounted getaway through the town.
Countless other tales live on, but San Toy could not. A fire in 1924 destroyed the coal tipple and several businesses. The loss was so devastating that just three years later the second mine shaft shut down. In November 1931, the nineteen remaining voters decided to abandon the town. Today, only the church, the town's first building, still stands as a reminder of days gone by.
In 1950 Burr Oak Lake was built across the valley of the east branch of Sunday Creek, a tributary of the Hocking River. The dam is about three miles north of Glouster on S. R. 13, in Trimble Township of Athens County. From the dam, the lake extends southward for about 1 1/2 miles, where it crosses into Homer Township of Morgan County. It then stretches northward for about four miles into Union Township of Morgan County. Burr Oak Lake was built as a multiple-use reservoir for flood control, water supply, and recreation. The Lake was a cooperative venture. The Department of Natural Resources purchased the land, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam and control gates. Two years later ,Burr Oak was dedicated as a state park.