The first and only national park in Oklahoma occupies land that people have frequented for thousands of years. The sulfur and fresh water
springs that bubbled above the ground through travertine rock provided healing and regenerative powers. The springs also lie in an area
that transitions from thick, lush forest to scrubby prairie and sparse timbers. In a show of foresight and good relations, the Chickasaws
and the national government recognized the uniqueness of this place, and it was designated a park in 1906.

From early on, both native people and American settlers enjoyed the waters. By the 1890s, the town of Sulphur Springs [sic] grew up
around the springs, and business people hoped to create a recreational hub for folks from all over, not unlike Hot Springs, Arkansas. The
Chickasaws, who owned the land, feared that the springs and their surroundings would lose their specialness if development went
overboard (a very astute observation!). The tribal council thus signed this 640 acre tract over to the United States government to be
preserved in perpetuity.

Sulphur Springs, which at that time had hotels, banks, stores, and dozens of residences, had to move off the land. At first, Platt National
Park - named after Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt, who championed the park- only held Pavilion Springs, where the water smelled like
sulfur. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps further added improvements, such as bridges and way stations. In 1976, two other
"fresh" springs were added to the park -  Antelope and Buffalo Springs - along with Travertine Creek, a small, pristinely clear, spring fed
river. The park was then renamed to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, where it not only preserves the natural beauty of the
springs but the historical significance of Depression era public works as well.
Evidence of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Travertine Creek
Natural spring bubbles at Buffalo Springs.
Original sulphur springs in the middle of what used to be the town of Sulphur Springs.
Disused CCC -built bridge along a trail.
My son David enjoyed playing at the Little Niagara Water Falls.
Buffalo Springs. The CCC went a little crazy here. I've never seen so much rock in one place.
Platt National Park: Now, the Chickasaw
National Recreational Center
Sulphur is part of the Chickasaw Nation; lies just east of the Arbuckle Mountains; and has
a newly built spa/casino resort in its downtown... so, it's definitely a destination town.
Click on the map to find it:
Antelope Springs
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
How to
get there