COLD SPRINGS & ROCK CREEK CAMPGROUNDS
According to one source, Cold Springs Campground is named for two springs located in or near Travertine Creek at the base of Mt. Airy between Pebble Falls and Garfield Falls.
Churchill and Taft did not include these springs in their 1902 report but Professor Gould noted two weak springs between the Pavilion Springs and the Buffalo Springs in his survey of 1906. Now, this is a distance of a mile and a half. We seriously doubt that these two springs are the ones referenced to as the namesake of the campground.
While researching the superintendent's reports, there was a letter to the Secretary of the Interior from Supt. French that noted the Antelope and Buffalo Springs had gone bone dry. Supt. French noted that in 1911 when the springs went dry, there was no water for swimming in Travertine Creek save two places where springs issued from the streambed.
Here there were small pools but the water disappeared into the sand a few yards downstream. French also noted that the campground was called "Cold Spring", in the singular, not plural, indicating that there was only one spring in the area during that dry spell. If the two "weak" springs had indeed been in the streambed, they would have been underwater and impossible for Churchill & Taft or Gould to locate. These two springs were most likely were Cunningham and Buse Springs.
In 1912, Supt. French had fifty acres cleared of timber and underbrush in preparation for building the new improved campground. French supervised the work and had a thirty-six foot long table built with benches. Two primitive comfort stations were built and additional tables and benches were distributed through the camping area.
By this time a wagon road and hiking trails had already been built to the area from Pavilion Springs and on to Buffalo and Antelope Springs. When the 1920's arrived so did the automobile. The narrow roads made it almost impossible for autos to pass on these narrow gravel roads. New wider roads with culverts had to be built.
A community house was added to the camp in 1922 that was almost identical to the one already in use in the Bromide area. These community houses were used by gatherings in case of bad weather. The total cost of the two buildings was $14,000 and paid for by the Sulphur Chamber of Commerce.
By the arrival of the CCC, the Cold Springs campground was considered the most abused of those in the Park. The first year of rebuilding, 1934/35, consisted of general cleanup, pruning trees and planting new trees.
The campground, which consisted of fifteen acres, had a master plan for reforestation created by Dr. Elmo P. Meinecke a well-known plant pathologist. The area was suffering from gross overuse and the trees and plants were suffering badly.
A half-mile of new roads was constructed through the campground. Guardrails were constructed along the Travertine Drive for protection of the campers from automobiles. These guardrails were made of eight-by-eight rails set on ten-inch post along the drive.
One can drive through the campground today and see the stone-enclosed garbage can enclosures that also were designed to hold firewood for the campers.
Water lines, sewer lines, fireplaces and camping locations were constructed. Sixty-six Parking spurs were built at the campsites.
Two comfort stations were constructed that measured about thirty-two by twenty-eight feet. The stonework was of yellow-brown limestone and the sizes of the stone were descending in size from smaller stones on top of the walls to very large boulders at the bottom of the walls.
In 1936, the CCC began the construction of an equally appealingly designed building called the "Checking Station" which is located at the entrance of the campground. One of the smallest buildings in the Park the Checking Station measures only twenty-seven by twenty-one feet and is also built in the rustic boulder theme.
Work was accelerated on this project to get it completed by the beginning of the 1938 camping season. However, Antelope and Buffalo springs had dried up in September of 1937. The continued drought, additional plantings of young trees and lack of water in Travertine Creek delayed the opening until 1940, four years after closure.
With the opening of new campgrounds around Arbuckle Lake, the pressure on this campground has lessened considerably and the vegetation has returned to its former glory.
Rock Creek Campground:
Long before the establishment of the Sulphur Springs Reservation, thousands of visitors came to the area to enjoy the health giving medicinal waters. Hundreds more came each summer to camp along the shady tree lined creeks and cool swimming holes.
The west end of the original Park boundary ran to the section line that was 14th street. The property on the west side of this line was allotted (certificate #10930) to Dixie H. Colbert on June 27, 1904. This property eventually passed to George Washington Giles.
In 1902, when the Reservation was established, there had to be arrangements made for those who came to camp for a week or two. The first campground established was the one called East Central Park. It is known today as Central Campground.
The second camping area established was in the area east of the Bromide Springs. This campground was known as Webster Park. At one point, Rangers counted over 600 campers in this area on a holiday weekend. This created a health and sanitation problem until the sewer lines were finally constructed in 1916. A third campground was established and named Cold Spring camp.
During the Depression there was a squatters camp west of the Bromide Springs just outside the Park boundary.
In the 1930's, during the CCC era, a new campground was re-constructed in the east end of the Park near Sycamore Falls known as Cold Springs Campground.
This eased the overcrowding of the other two campgrounds but a new area needed to be developed. The area just west of the Park's west boundary along the south bank of Rock Creek seemed to fit the bill for a new camping area.
After some failed negotiating with the property owners, the United States Government began condemnation proceedings on January 2, 1941, filing papers in the Eastern District U. S. Court in Muskogee known as Civil Case No. 427,"The United States vs.63.75 acres of land in Murray County, Oklahoma and Rilla Giles, et. al."
Not only was the estate of the deceased George Washington Giles named as defendants but also the Murray County Commissioners, County Assessor, County Treasurer, the City of Sulphur and Mayor.
The trial started on October 9th, 1941 and a jury was seated. After several weeks of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in the government's favor and a value on the 63.75 acres at $2,490.63. The Giles family filed for a new trial but it was denied and the government paid the sum stated. This amounted to a payment of $39.08 per acre.
This addition of land brought the total size of Platt National Park to 912 acres. Platt would never again add more land or get any larger.
World War II had just begun and the national attention and funds were devoted to defeating the Axis. The plan to develop Rock Creek Campground was put on the shelve until 1950.
In that year, the sum of $51,000 was appropriated and plans approved for the camp. Survey work to locate the 62 new campsites, sewer and water lines and the construction of 1.1 miles of asphalt road began. Water and electrical hookups were designed for the campsites but were never developed.
In 1967, forty-seven new campsites were added with the inclusion of Chigger Hill, part of the original Giles estate. A new comfort station was constructed in this addition. This brought today's total to 106 campsites. No new development was done to the Rock Creek Campground as the Arbuckle Lake project would soon be added and the CNRA came into existence.
© by Dennis Muncrief - 2006