Distance: 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Average Time: 1/2 hour
Difficulty: Very easy, surface is some concrete and some hardpacked gravel
Starting Point: Pavilion Springs or Vendome Well
A walk through the historic district of the park takes you back in time. Pavilion Springs, Lincoln Bridge, Flower Park, and the Vendome Well all have a distinctive place in the history of Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The turn of the 20th century community of Sulphur began in the area of Pavilion Springs. Early settlers called this spring "Seven Springs". The first improvement was a hollow tree used to collect the water. A concrete structure replaced the tree and a pavilion was built. In the early 1900s, it was the only spring with a pavilion over it, therefore the residents of the area called it Pavilion Springs. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the present structure in 1936.
One of the dominant features along the trail is Lincoln Bridge, built in 1909. The builder was required to construct a bridge strong enough to support a four horse team at a full gallop.
In 1915, Sulphur residents planted flowers in the area north of Lincoln Bridge, hence the name Flower Park. CCC workers dug the original water course from Vendome Well to Travertine Creek in 1934. A common sight at that time was park visitors covered with mud drying in the sun along the banks of Vendome Stream. These mud bathers, or "mud puppies," believed the black sticky mud had medicinal properties in it that helped heal aching joints and skin problems.
The Vendome Well and the adjacent area to the west, was made a part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in 1980. Originally a commercial development, the well was drilled in 1922. A restaurant, dance pavilion, swimming pool, and skating rink were all located in this area. The well provided enough water for the swimming pool as well as and an adequate flow through the Flower Park area.
The area evokes images of a turn-of-the-century town. A four horse team and wagon running across Lincoln Bridge, mud covered people sitting along the stream in Flower Park, and music from the dance pavilion mingled with the sounds of swimmers splashing in the pools. Enjoy the beauty of this area, a favorite of visitors for almost a hundred years.