BOTTLES & JUGS
From the very inception of the Sulphur Springs Reservation it was thought that no water should be carried out of the Park.
There was even the infamous Rule #11 in the beginning that all water was for "immediate drinking". This rule was quickly realized to be very impractical as many infirm and sick moved to Sulphur and either bought homes, rented or lived in boarding houses and hotels some distance away from the springs.
This created a problem with the invalids trying to walk a mile or more daily to drink their healing waters at the springs. These rules on water consumption were soon modified so that a person could take a gallon jug or bottle to the springs and receive their "aqua vitae" at home.
The problem with some springs was that they didn't produce enough water for unrestricted use and this was the concern with the Bromide Spring. Repeated efforts were made to increase the flow but it was never more than 240 gallons per day.
In 1908, the Oklahoma Legislature requested that a daily railroad shipment of water be sent to the state capitol when the legislature was in session. The amount requested was: 10 gallons of Antelope Spring water, 10 gallons of Sulphur water and 5 gallons of Bromide water.
The problem with the Bromide Spring is that it was the most popular of all the springs in the Park. Superintendent Swords was forced almost immediately to hire a Watchman to carefully measure out the Bromide water to visitors. It was decided that spring water would be restricted to one gallon per day per person. Supt. Swords purchased a special half-gallon copper-measuring device for such a purpose.
If a sick or inform person could not make it to the springs, they could get a written permission slip from the Superintendent's office and the invalid could send a messenger for their one gallon of water.
In April of 1908, the Secretary of Interior wrote a letter to Supt. Greene asking what was the current usage of water by local bottlers who shipped water procured in the Park. Greene replied that at present there were none although there had been several in past years.
Because of the scarcity of the Bromide water it was a commodity of some value and it was quite frequently stolen at night when there was no night watchman on duty.
Greene wrote that persons of 'low character' had been detected stealing the Bromide water and shipping it to "joint keepers" and others in adjoining towns. Evidently the main customers for the bottled Bromide water were its sale in statewide saloons. He also said that stepped up patrols and arrest on other charges had greatly reduced the theft of the Bromide water.
Charles G. Frost who was headquartered in Oklahoma City was the largest producer of bottled water and his location is shown on both the 1902 and 1904 maps of the area of the Pavilion Springs and Black Sulphur Springs.
Frost was in the wholesale beer business and started his bottled water works before the inception of the federal reservation. Frost established the Sulphur Bottling Works in Sulphur, I. T. After the segregation, he obtained a license to continue the bottling of the Sulphur water from the Beach Springs at his bottling works on West Tishomingo Street just a few hundred feet outside the Park boundary.
Frost would continue bottling the sulphur water and shipping it to Oklahoma City where it was distributed to the local pubs. In 1905 he shipped six carloads, in 1906 he shipped twelve carloads and in 1907 he shipped eighteen carloads to Oklahoma City.
In October of 1907, Milton F. Geisha of Sulphur bought the bottling works. Supt. Greene went to inform him that he must have a permit and license to procure his water from the Park. Geisha told Greene that he was not bottling Park water but was instead taking water from the many artesian wells drilled in Sulphur. By March of 1906, several artesian wells had been drilled in new Sulphur.
Geisha was shipping a carload per month for which he received $5.00 per case of fifty bottles. Frost received $5.50 per case but he was selling the sulphur water from the Beach Springs.
Greene finished his reply to the Secretary stating that it was his belief that if anyone wanted to take water for bottling from the Beach Springs, Antelope or Buffalo Springs that it would not affect the Park in any way.
He did though say that it would be ill advised to sell the water from the Pavilion, Hillside, or Bromide Springs since there was barely enough water produced daily to serve all the visitors.
And so, thus ended the bottled water business from Platt National Park.
© Contributed by Dennis Muncrief, October 2006.