History & Culture
NPS/Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Tradition touches the present at Chickasaw National Recreation Area. You park your car and pursue the same diversions people enjoyed at the turn of the Twentieth Century— after parking their buggy or getting off the train. You no longer see women in full dresses and sunhats sidesaddle on mules, but you can still follow pleasant trails, enjoy a picnic or just people-watch. Surely that’s what attracted some of the folks who crowded the old train station and put up at Sulphur’s former grand and popular hotels and bath-houses.
Only the styles have changed. Tents have evolved from simple white cottons and poplins to pop-ups, umbrellas, and domes sewn of multicolored canvas or bright, lightweight nylons. And the campers have traded horse-drawn buggies for automobiles. But the tents are still pitched by families seeking a week of fun and relaxation in shaded woodlands threaded by clear-running streams and dotted with mineral and freshwater springs. The quaint old cars and campers foreshadow today’s recreational van which might be parked by the Lake of the Arbuckles.
First native Americans and then early settlers of the surrounding plains sought recreation here. Summer weekends still find family reunions picnicking at favorite spots in the Platt Historic District. Some have returned every year for more than half a century.
For over one hundred years the park has been a refuge for outdoor tradition; a protected niche of parkland where styles may change, but where recreation remains a relaxing way of life.