A Tour of Platt National Park, 1941
The Works Progress Administration, one of many New Deal era government agencies, produced travel guides for every state throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. The Oklahoma State guide was the last to be published, in 1941.
In 1941, the eight years of extensive renovation to Platt National Park [the present-day Platt Historic District in Chickasaw National Recreation Area] by the Civilian Conservation Corps had just been completed. The brand new facilities of the park receive an excellent treatment in the tour guide description presented below.
Please note: This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current park policies and procedures. Park conditions have changed, and some place names are no longer in use. No longer accepted cultural practices are also contained in this historic narrative.
Source: Pages 365-368, The WPA guide to 1930s Oklahoma: compiled by the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oklahoma. Debo, Angie. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1986.
Roadbed asphalt-paved and graveled.
East of DAVIS, 0 m. (838 alt., 1,698 pop.) (see Tour 10), State 22 proceeds eastward from its junction with US 77 (see Tour 10) and passes through rolling hilly country to SULPHUR, 9 m. (976 alt., 4,970 pop.), a pleasure and health resort with something of the appearance of a continental spa. Rock Creek flows through the town and divides it into East and West Sulphur, each section having its own business and residential sections. In East Sulphur are the city hall and many of the large hotels; in West Sulphur are the courthouse and county offices. The streets in both sections are paved with crushed rock, principally chert from near-by quarries. Mineral water, with sulphur and iron content, is plentiful and is used in many of the numerous swimming pools. The town’s entire water supply comes from deep, flowing wells.
At 9.4 m. is the junction with State 18, which the tour follows south (R) through PLATT NATIONAL PARK (free camping).The park, lying south of the junction, covers an area of 848 acres. There are thirty-one large springs (faucets; water is free)—eighteen sulphur, four iron, three bromide, and six fresh water—and several smaller ones. The tract was formerly included in the territory of the Chickasaw Nation, and a large part of it was purchased from the Indians by the Federal government in 1902, the year in which the park was established. First named Sulphur Springs Reservation, it was renamed in 1906 for U.S. Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt, of Connecticut, member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs(1879—1905).
From early spring to late fall colorful wild flowers are abundant here—Spanish larkspur, Virginia creeper, primrose, blue salvia, goldenrod, redbud, and the pink-flowered brier or cat’s claw, locally known as gander’s teeth. Five or six varieties of cactus, native to the state and the Southwest, grow among the rocks on the hillsides, and in the creek valleys are numerous trees. Wrens, herons, cardinals, meadow larks, horned larks, sparrow hawks, brown thrashers, and many other birds frequent the region seasonally, and raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits, and squirrels are found in or near the park.
TRAVERTINE CREEK, 9.6m., is crossed on a stone bridge.
Travertine Creek (R), which parallels Perimeter Boulevard for a short distance, is spanned by LINCOLN BRIDGE, 9.8 m., a footbridge constructed of white limestone blocks, with turrets at each end. Across the bridge is FLOWER PARK, comprising five acres of cleared land; a small, shallow stream, formed by diverting the overflow from Vendome Plunge, a swimming pool near by, flows through the area.
The boulevard crosses ROCK CREEK, 9.9m.,the largest stream in the park; it has been stocked by the State Game and Fish Commission with bass, catfish, perch, crappie, and bream. On the summit of a small knoll (R), just west of the Rock Creek bridge, are BLACK SULPHUR SPRINGS, which have an extremely strong sulphur content. The spring’s pavilion, constructed of stone covered with rough stucco, is hexagonal in shape, with open sides and slender pillars supporting the sloping roof.
A large open pavilion (L) at BROMIDE SPRINGS AREA, 10.7 m., houses
The BROMIDE CAMP GROUNDS (trailer and tent accommodations, picnicking facilities), within the area (R), are well shaded.
South of the pavilion, a trail leads across a long steel footbridge over Rock Creek to the bottom of BROMIDE CLIFF (1,050 alt.), which rises 140 feet above the creek. CCC workers have built banked trails, with bridges and retaining walls from this point along the sides and to the summit of the cliff. At the foot, temporary structures are erected each year to seat the thousands of visitors who come to view the Easter Pageant. Near by are three springs that supply water to the pavilion; a larger spring boils up in the center of Rock Creek.
Perimeter Boulevard again crosses Rock Creek, 10.8 m., winds around the western side of the cliff, and ascends to the top of the hill forming the precipice.
Right on this road to VETERANS LAKE (state fishing license; no fee) 0.1 m., which covers 1 15 acres and has a maximum depth of eighty feet; the lake is stocked yearly with thousands of fingerlings.
A PARKING AREA (L) 11.2 m., is near the highest point in the park. Several foot trails lead from here across the summit of Bromide Cliff to COUNCIL ROCK, locally called Robbers’ Roost, offering a wide view of the park and the town of Sulphur. Here various Indian tribes lighted their signal fires or held councils of war or peace. A hiking trail leads from the rock down the cliff to Bromide Springs Pavilion.
The BUFFALO PASTURE (no trespassing), 12.2 m., is a large area (L) where a small herd of buffalo is maintained.
At 12.4 m. is the junction with State 18. The route continues east on Perimeter Boulevard and climbs a ridge. At the top, 12.7 m., is a view of the OKLAHOMA SOLDIERS’ TUBERCULAR SANITARIUM (R), a group of brick, cottage-like buildings trimmed with white, except the administration building, which is a square limestone structure. The grounds are landscaped, with well-kept lawns, and cedars.
The road descends a slope to Travertine Creek (L), which it parallels for two miles. Wild flowers grow in profusion and dense growths of oak and elm trees shade the valleys.
TRAVERTINE ISLAND (L), 14.1m., was formed by the “looping” of Travertine Creek. At the eastern end of the island is LITTLE NIAGARA, a waterfall over a rock formation in the creek.
BUFFALO SPRINGS (picnicking facilities), 15 m., is one of the two sources of Travertine Creek. The springs (L) boil up through a bed of sand, flecked with patches of green moss. Curving to the left in a hairpin turn, Perimeter Boulevard rounds the springs to parallel the north side of the creek and continues westward. ANTELOPE SPRINGS, 15.4 m., the other source of Travertine Creek, flows from a small hill (L). Both Antelope and Buffalo Springs are fresh water sources and are often dry.
Travertine Island, 16.1 m., is passed again (L) as the road proceeds southwestward.
Two adjoining SWIMMING POOLS, 16.5 m., have been made by damming the creek. The near-by COLD SPRINGS CAMPGROUNDS, 15.6 m., has floodlight illumination at night.
In the bend of the creek (L) is the NEGRO AREA (campgrounds), 17.2 m.
At 17.5 m. is the junction with State 18, which now again becomes the route.
Left on State 18 to PAVILION SPRINGS, 17.7 m., where there is a pavilion ( L) of native stone and handhewn timbers used for community gatherings. The ADMINISTRATION BUILDING (R) houses an extensive herbarium where some six hundred species of eighty-four families of plants found in the park have been identified. North of the winding, flagged walk leading to the building are HILLSIDE SPRINGS, from which a large volume of water flows.
South of the South Gate, 18.3 m., of Platt National Park, State 18 continues to a junction with US 70 (see Tour 6) at 43.2 m.
Last updated: February 24, 2015