FENCING THE PARK
In August of 1908, Greene received a petition with 300 signatures from the citizens of Sulphur protesting the fencing of the Park. He informed the Secretary that at the time there are twenty entrances to the Park. Citizens want unrestricted roads and access to the park.
Much of the problem with fencing the Park came with the encroachment of livestock, which destroyed the springs as well as leaving unsanitary conditions around the spring's area. In 1908 the total number of livestock driven from the Park was 11,041 head. Most of the three ranger's time was spent removing these animals from the park.
The second problem was that the boulevard around the Park between the private lots and the Park boundary was being used for the disposal of offal and waste, as cattle pens, hotel garbage dumps, scavenger loads, stable litter, locations for toilets, dead animals and trash dumps by the citizens.
In August, the U. S. Attorney came to Sulphur to see the matter for himself so he can pursue federal prosecution of the citizens who use the road in such unhealthful manners as well as utter disregard for the law and common decency.
Supt. Greene informed the Secretary that the visitors who take the burro or hack tour up Sulphur Creek can rest assured that the new fences around the Buffalo and Antelope Springs would offer them the purest water for drinking without concern of herds of cattle contaminating the water.
Where gates would normally be installed, groups of post would be set to allow a person to weave their way into the Park but would deny cattle or horses access. This method of access control later failed as the cattle simply pushed the post apart and entered the park. These "post entries" were all replaced with the traditional turnstile already in use.
People were using the traditional gate to enter the Park with wagons, driving herds of cattle into the Park or leaving the gates open for wandering cattle to enter.
One citizen named G. W. Odneal, who ran a boarding house, threatened to shoot the Superintendent if a fence was put in front of his establishment. Greene stated that Odneal had threatened to cut the fence everyday till it remains open. He further stated the man would be arrested and taken to federal jail if the fence is cut.
The Secretary authorized the expenditure of $2,500 for the fencing of the park. The actual work began on July 7, 1908.
Greene estimated that the fence would require 5,500 post, 11,000 pounds of barbed wire and 400 pounds of staples.
In August of 1908, Supt Greene wrote to William Goodall of Hickory asking for a bid on split oak post to fence the park. The post were to be 6 feet in length, 4 inches on the small end, bark removed, 4,500 in number. Mr. Goodall sent some samples of his work to Greene and bids 8 cents each.
The first Park of the Park to be fenced was from the area of Bromide Springs on Rock Creek and then across the south boundary of the reserve some 6,385 feet to Blank's Store in South Sulphur.
By November, the entire Park was finally fenced with only 400 feet at the Vendome left unfenced. Greene didn't know what to do with this area. The Vendome was only eight feet from the Park boundary and a barbed wire fence did not seem appropriate at this location. He was considering a board fence of some description.
The fact that the Vendome was built in the Frontage road greatly distresses Greene. For those of you who may be new to the area, on the outside of the entire Park perimeter there were surveyed and platted roads in the city of Sulphur.
These roads have names you have most likely never head of such as Chelsea Avenue, Bromide Avenue, Lawton and Kiowa Avenues.
The "ten acre lot" around Wilson Springs was not fenced as it cut off the access to Sulphur for the residents who lived southwest of the park. Also, the area near the Vendome was not fenced with barbed wire but rather a board fence with two turnstiles.
A turnstile was also installed in the fence opposite the "Deaf and Dumb Institute"(sic) between Division Street and First Street East so the pupils could use East Central Park for recreational purposes.
Turnstiles were installed at other places where people needed to enter the Park for domestic water. Every request for the installation of a gate so animals could obtain water was denied.
The total length of fence built was 12 miles. Two miles of this was the lane between Blank's Store on South Side and the North Side.
The allocation for the project was $2,500 of which $1,854.99 was expended for the fencing of the park.
As a footnote to the volatile issue of fencing the Park, Greene filed a report to the Secretary noting "I have been agreeably disappointed thus far in the attitude of the public toward the work of enclosing the Park, and the exclusion of livestock there from . . . As a rule they have accepted the position with a good grade . . . commending the act of fencing in line with a health and pleasure resort".
© Contributed by Dennis Muncrief, October 2006.