Remembering Platt National Park
Originally known as Sulphur Springs Reservation, and later renamed Platt National Park, the park was established in 1902 through an agreement with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations and the federal government. The Chickasaw Nation sold the land to the government in order to protect the unique freshwater and mineral springs along Travertine and Rock Creeks. Even with these protections, the popularity of the area continued to grow in the early 1900s.
Though a number of landscape elements in the Platt District relate to the early period of the park’s establishment, the majority of historic landscape resources relate to the period from 1933-1940.
During this period, NPS professionals planned and designed extensive park infrastructure which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Elements included mineral spring pavilions, campgrounds, picnic areas, dams and waterfalls; these were linked by a network of roads and trails. Over one-half million trees and shrubs were planted and an ambitious silviculture program implemented. The CCC work group at Platt National Park was the largest and longest running of any in Oklahoma, employing about 200 workers at any given time between 1933 and 1940.
After 1940, the park first went through a period of wartime economy, followed by minor expansion in 1950. A nature center was added and other changes were made during the National Park Service’s "Mission 66" era. In the 1970s, the park merged with the Arbuckle Recreation Area to become Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The former national park lands became designated as the Travertine District, later renamed the Platt District.
Although it was the 7th National Park created in the United States, Platt National Park is rarely mentioned in any National Park Service informational resources. Historic maps and documents, along with primary written accounts, help us fill in the blanks about this oft-forgotten piece of Oklahoma history.