PLATT NATIONAL PARK, BY W. J. FRENCH, Superintendent.
By the acts of Congress of July 1, 1902 (32 Stat., 641), and April 21, 1904 (33 Stat., 220), 629.33 and 218.89 acres, respectively, at the town of Sulphur, Okla. (then Indian Territory), were segregated as the "Sulphur Springs Reservation," which designation, by joint resolution approved June 29, 1906, was changed to "Platt National Park."
The park, with a total area of 848.22 acres, extends in irregular form a distance of approximately 3 miles from northeast to southwest along Travertine and Rock Creeks.
Within the park are 33 known mineral and 3 nonmineral springs. The principal groups are the Bromide, Medicine, Bromide Sulphur, and Black Sulphur Springs, in the southwest part of the park, Beach and Pavilion Springs in the northwest corner, and the Wilson Springs in the south part.
The sulphur springs predominate, but bromide, medicine, soda, and iron springs are in evidence and very popular and effective as curatives. Many, many gallons of the bromide and medicine waters are shipped to patients on physicians' prescriptions monthly.
The Antelope and Buffalo Springs, nonmineral in character, are situated in the extreme northeastern end of the park, with an elevation of 1,080 feet above sea level and an approximate normal flow of 5,000,000 gallons daily into Travertine Creek.
The Antelope and Buffalo Springs have been affected by the drouth of the past two and one-half years to a considerable extent.
Cold Spring, situated midway between Pavilion and the east end of the park, is nonmineral in character and affords water for many of the families of the city living immediately north of same.
The following is a statement of the mineral springs which have been developed:
Flow of springs.
The amount of water per capita used on the premises and taken away for individual use averages three-fourths gallon per day. This statement applies to all mineral springs, except Wilson and Jerico, from which the amount taken is inconsiderable.
Visitors partaking of the waters of Bromide and Medicine Springs during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1911, numbered 124,078. Many of these made visits from day to day while remaining at the springs, and many of them were residents of the city who visited the springs and were enumerated on each occasion.
The approximate number of actual visitors to the springs during the fiscal years 1910 and 1911 were 30,000 persons.
There were 877 campers in the camp ground within the park during this year for a longer period than 3 days.
It is evident that Platt National Park would make a delightful winter resort. With those that are acquainted with its advantages as a delightful and pleasant place to tarry during the extreme warm and sultry summer months there is no question of their choice, it being from 10° to 12° cooler than the surrounding country.
The trails and driveways leading to the most attractive points have been improved as much as possible with the limited means at hand. The trails leading from the city to the different springs and pavilions, and Cliffside Trail leading from Pavilion Springs and following Rock Creek and winding along the mountain, give many picturesque scenes, overlooking the city and surrounding country.
The trail leading to Antelope and Buffalo Springs, at the east end of the park, follows the meanderings of the Travertine Creek and is shaded almost the entire length by a heavy growth of healthy timber.
Anyone endowed with a love for the beauties of nature, looking into the faces of these picturesque falls and listening to the music of the songs they sing, will truly be impressed that this is a spot ordained by the Creator for health giving and life restoring of mankind, worthy the protection of our good Government.
The permanent bridges are the Washington, Lincoln, and Bromide. The Washington Bridge is a structure of first-class material and workmanship, combining strength, durability, and beauty. It is apparently in as perfect a condition as the day it was completed except that it should be painted in the near future to protect the material from rust.
Lincoln Bridge, a foot bridge over Travertine Creek where the Roberts Trail leading from second street west to the Pavilion Springs crosses the creek, is a stone structure very beautifully designed and graceful in every feature.
Bromide suspension footbridge, which spans Rock Creek at Bromide and Medicine Springs, is a beautiful and unique wooden structure of the arch type suspended by wire cables. This bridge is in very fair preservation except the floor and possibly a portion of the underdecking, which will be clear for inspection when there is a new floor laid, which should be done during the next year.
The pavilion just being completed over Hillside Spring is built of heavy timber, with good red cypress shingle roof. It is supported on rock posts laid in cement, is 20 feet square, substantial, and well proportioned. With one more coat of paint it will be complete.
Medicine Spring has been developed and improved during the last year. It is located about 200 feet west of Bromide Spring and Pavilion and protected and confined by a cement cistern built around it after blasting away the rock. This spring discharges 528 gallons of water daily.
As Platt National Park is small, compared with many of the other national parks, the problems of protection are not so large and varied. This factor, however, makes it all the more important that the roads and drives be maintained and improved as rapidly as possible, and that the natural beauties of the park be developed as rapidly as possible in a natural way.
The presence of an unusual number of medical springs, to which people come in increasing numbers, calls for close watchfulness against any possible source of bacterial contamination of the waters. The importance of this will grow as the park is more extensively used, and may ultimately call for very close supervision of the water.
Platt National Park ultimately should be covered with a most beautiful velvety turf in the untimbered portions. It is located in a region where Bermuda grass, if given an opportunity, quickly heals over the scars on the face of the earth and transforms rough and wasted slopes into grass-grown hillsides. Judicious planting of the roots of this grass wherever washes begin developing will not only add to the beauty of the place, but will make unnecessary expensive labor later to overcome the damage caused by unrestrained erosion. This grass possesses another advantage that it thrives with use. No unwelcome signs reading "keep off the grass" are necessary where it grows.
The principal necessities of the Platt National Park are the following:
(1) The protection of the waters of the springs and streams from pollution. The protection of the health of the residents and visitors requires the installation of a sanitary sewer system. There is seemingly no outlet for the sewerage of the town of Sulphur other than through the park. A trunk-line system should be installed at the earliest possible date, with laterals at the most convenient and natural points of drainage. This trunk line should be built by the Government under direction of the Secretary of the Interior, with permission granted the city of Sulphur to build the laterals under direction of the Secretary, or the city of Sulphur should be compelled to install the entire system at the city's expense, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior.
(2) Steps should be taken to increase the number and power of the lights in the park. There should be one light installed at Hillside Spring; one between Hillside Spring and the Pavilion Group; and one in the superintendent's office.
(3) A comprehensive plan of improvement of the driveways and trails should be adopted.
(4) A pavilion should be built at Beach Spring, and a footbridge constructed over Rock Creek at this point, making the spring accessible from West Central Park.
(5) A new Government building should be erected, with vaults to protect the records of the office. I suggest that this building be located at a point just within the park and facing or in front of Second Street west.
(6) The work of fighting off weeds and thistles should be kept up, especially in the park adjacent to the city and springs. The weeds and underbrush in the woodland should be cleaned out in order to preserve the desirable timber. It has been suggested that a flock of goats would effectually accomplish this part of the labor, and at a profit rather than an expense.
(7) Forest trees should be planted in East and West Central Parks.
(8) The residences in the park should be repaired and painted.
(9) There should be built a barn in which to keep forage and feed; the so-called barns within the park are totally inadequate. There is no room for feed in the shed at the superintendent's residence, and but little at any other of the residences, save at the old Robinson residence, where the teamster Milligan resides.
(10) Where the roads cross the creeks there should be constructed small concrete culverts with sufficient openings to carry four or five times the normal flow of the stream. If these culverts were built the grades of the approaches would be lightened, and it would not be necessary to drive over the very rough bottoms of the creek.
(11) I recommend the installation of a bathhouse on and in the reservation, either by and under the management, of the department or through concession. I think a bathhouse would add as much or more to the interest of the park and the convenience and welfare of the visitors than any one thing that could be installed. The people can get baths here in the city, but this does not satisfy them. They want baths from the water of these springs, and desire to see the spring water running direct into the tubs.
Last updated: February 24, 2015