Springs and Seeps

Little Niagara (wet and dry)

water flowing over a ledge with people swimming in the water above and below water flowing over a ledge with people swimming in the water above and below

Water flow over Little Niagara Falls depends on outflow from Antelope and Buffalo Springs


Freshwater Springs

Most of the water in Travertine Creek comes from Antelope and Buffalo Springs. These two springs have a combined flow of about five million gallons of water a day during high flow years.

However, sometimes no water comes out of these two springs. Why?

The water in the springs comes from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. When water is drained from the aquifer through springs and wells faster than rainfall can refill it, these two springs can and will run dry.

From the beginning of the park's history, the water of Travertine Creek was very important. Records of the streams flow and condition were maintained throughout this period. Antelope and Buffalo Springs have dried up many times, most significantly in the 1910s, 1930s, and 1950s. These were the times of deep droughts in Oklahoma.

Antelope and Buffalo Springs have gone dry over 20 times in the last 120 years. At times they were dry for only a couple of weeks, and other times, for over two years. In contrast, they ran for over twenty years straight from the mid eighties to the early 2000s, though there were several times they slowed down during that period.

Today, water flow is monitored by computerized equipment allowing scientists to get accurate data on the stream condition. USGS Gaging Station Information for Antelope Springs

Factors such as runoff rate and absorbtion by vegetation influences how much rain makes it down to the aquifer. A large, sudden, and heavy rainstorm is not as helpful for aquifer refill as the same amount of rain is when it is spread out over several days. Human use is another important factor, the more water people pull from the aquifer for human use via wells, the more rain it takes to replace it.

When the water in the aquifer returns to a sufficient level to feed the springs, they flow again.

Documented dry periods for Antelope Springs:

Mar 1911 - Apr 1912
Sep 1912 - Nov 1913
Mar 1918 – Dec 1919
Apr 1927 – Aug 1927
Aug 1934 – Sep 1936
Sep 1937 – Feb 1938
Sep 1938 – Jun 1940
Dec 1951 – Apr 1952
Sep 1952 – Jun 1954
Aug 1954 – May 1957
Jan 1959 – Dec 1959
Aug 1963 – Nov 1964
Aug 1965 – Jul 1967
Dec 1, 1976 – Mar 31, 1977
Dec 23, 1977 – Mar 31, 1978
Dec 15, 1978 – Feb 28, 1979
Dec 31, 1979 – Sep 30, 1981
Jul 10, 1984 – Oct 31, 1984
Oct 6, 2006 – Oct 13, 2006
Jan 12, 2009 – May 4, 2009
July 26, 2011 – Dec 12, 2011
Sept 8, 2012 – June 12, 2013
Feb 13, 2014 – April 29, 2015
November 15, 2022 – November 19, 2022

An old black and white image of a stone pavilion on a hillside with people standing next to it.
Hillside Springs, 1920s

Mineral Springs

There are a number of cold-water mineral springs in the park which give rise to sulphur, bromide, and iron-bearing waters. Most of these are enclosed in pavilions or small decorative pools constructed of native stone and shaded by groves of large, old trees.

The most significant sulphur springs in the park are Hillside Spring, Pavilion Springs, and Black Sulphur Spring. In addition, Flower Park contains pools of sulphur water flowing from Vendome Well. The mud from Flower Park historically had some therapeutic qualities attributed to it as a topical therapy. Many of these springs were also reputed to have medicinal value as drinking water. These springs have run consistantly since recordkeeping began in the area. Due to bacterial contamination it is not safe to drink the water from Hillside or Black Sulphur Springs. Water at Pavilion Springs and Vendome Well is not treated; consume at your own risk.

The major bromide springs were Medicine Spring and Bromide Spring, both of which are located in the western portion of the park and, appropriately enough, rose from the base of Bromide Hill. These were the most popular springs for drinking, as the water was reputed to cure a variety of ailments. Both Bromide and Medicine Springs have stopped flowing.

Unlike Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas, which in the past maintained facilities for various mineral water therapies, the Platt Historic District never hosted a publicly owned bathhouse. The National Park Service makes available and maintains the various springs for all visitors and indicates their mineral composition, but makes no claim regarding their medicinal or therapeutic values.

Last updated: January 28, 2023

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Sulphur, OK 73086


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