|Abstract:||Platt National Park, located in southern Oklahoma, containing 842 acres, was established by Acts of Congress in 1902, 1904, and 1906.
The reason for the setting aside of this area was the presence in the area of some 30 ‘mineral‘ springs, the water from which contains sulphur, bromide, salt, and other minerals, which are believed to possess medicinal qualities.
For many generations the sulphur springs of the Chickasaw Nation had been known for their reputed healing qualities. It had long been the custom for families to come from considerable distances on horseback and in wagons and camp near the springs, in order to drink the water. In course of time a primitive town, known as Sulphur Springs, grew up near a group of springs known since as Pavilion Springs at the mouth of Sulphur Creek, now known as Travertine Creek. This town was still in existence at the time of my first visit to the locality in July, 1901. At this time, in company with Joseph A. Taff, of the United States Geological Survey, I spent a week riding over the country making a preliminary survey looking toward the setting aside of the area for a National Park.
After the establishment of the National Park, the old town of Sulphur Springs was abandoned, and when the present boundaries of the park had been established the present town of Sulphur, now county seat of Murray County, grew up.
In July 1906, on request of Superintendent Joseph F. Swords, I visited the park and made an examination of the various springs and submitted a report, dated August 15, 1906, to Secretary of the Interior E.A. Hitchcock. Copies of this report are on file in the Regional Office and at Platt National Park. In this report I set forth the approximate amount of flow of the various springs, the character of the water in each, and the conditions of the springs as of that date. I also made certain recommendations regarding proposed improvements of each spring.
In this report I say: ‘In the town of Sulphur, four wells have been drilled to a depth of between 450 and 500 feet in which artesian water has been secured. These wells are said to flow 200,000 gallons each per day.‘
I also say: ‘From a study of the log of one of these wells, it appears that the artesian water is derived from the upper part of the Simpson sandstone. It is very probable that the water of the springs is derived from the same source.‘
This early was recognized the relation between the water from the mineral springs and that from the artesian wells.
As the years have passed, other wells have been drilled in the town of Sulphur, chiefly to supply water for mineral baths and for swimming pools, so that to date more than 30 wells have been drilled. The exact number is not known. The custom has usually been to turn the wells loose and permit them to flow at full capacity, although some of the wells have been ‘valved in‘ and the flow reduced. An estimate furnished me by the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in 1937, referred to later in this report, indicated that at that time 16 wells were flowing approximately 28,800,000 gallons of water per day, practically all of which ran to waste.
For many years geologists in Oklahoma and elsewhere have watched this unrestricted waste of water from the artesian wells at Sulphur with growing concern. Remembering the history of other artesian basins throughout the world, these geologists believed that in all probability it was only a question of time until the water in the Sulphur artesian basin would begin to fail. On two different occasions the State Geologist of Oklahoma, bearing these conditions in mind, has prepared and had introduced into the State Legislature a bill which, if enacted into law, would have regulated the flow of water in artesian wells throughout the State. Both bills died in committee.
Partly on account of the drought of the past three years, the matter has been brought to a head. In September 1938, Buffalo and Antelope Springs at the hea