As the government took control of the springs and their care, new rules of conduct for the visitors and citizens of Sulphur Springs were implemented. They were not popular with the locals but it was the locals, after all, who first wanted the springs protected and a government reservation created.
Col. Swords, the first Superintendent of the Reservation in 1902, immediately began sanitary cleanup around the springs. The area of the Pavilion Springs was near the reservation office and the residence of the superintendent and park ranger. These springs were rather easy to watch the coming and going of the visitors.
The problem lay in the distances between the Buffalo-Antelope Springs area to the Bromide Springs area, a span of nearly three miles. These two areas were very popular with visitors as well as cattlemen who watered their herds at the Buffalo-Antelope Springs.
People were taking the water by barrels and wagon loads and selling it as well as allowing the cattle to stomp the springs into the ground making them unusable for visitors. Col. Swords had a plan.
A small house from the old town near the Pavilion was moved to what was called Webster Park near the Bromide Springs. This was to be the residence of the new caretaker.
Another house was moved to the east end of the park east of Panther Falls on Sulphur Creek. This was to be the residence of Willis Townsley who would be the caretaker of the Buffalo-Antelope Springs area. Townsley was not paid for his services as caretaker as there was an agreement to the low rent he paid and the fact that he still had a business in the old town near the Pavilion. His primary responsibility was to watch for cattle tearing up the springs.
The caretaker at Bromide Springs had a different job. He was to greet visitors, count them and measure the water they took out of the park. His residence was immediately across Rock Creek from the springs area.
The first rules set forth by the reservation stated that all the water from the springs was for "immediate drinking" which meant that no one was allowed to carry off water in jugs. This rule was deemed a little harsh and was never enforced to any great extent.
The job of Watchman was not an easy one physically. As the visitors tended to dip their buckets or jugs into the catch basins of the springs, the Watchman was required to keep sanitary conditions and to dip a half gallon copper measuring bucket for each visitor. To indicate what a physically challenging task this was for an old soldier, in September of 1907, there were 18,554 visitors with 7,466 gallons of water taken.
The reason for the large amount of visitors being is that after the town was moved away from the creeks and springs, they had no water. So, along with the tourist, there were the people who needed domestic water.
Col. Swords hired a retired soldier to be the caretaker of the Bromide Springs. After Albert Greene became Superintendent in May of 1907, he became angry with the caretaker for talking "out of school" as they say and fired him. In a letter to the Commander of G.A.R., Post No. 40 of Sulphur, J. A. Thomas, Greene asked for a recommendation of a good man who was a member of his lodge and a former Union soldier. Greene's letter describes the duties of the caretaker and benefits as follows:
"The duties require an attendance at the Pavilion on a daily basis from 8:00 to Noon and from 1:00 to 5:00 pm with longer hours during the tourist season and special occasions.
The watchman is required to see that no one gets more water than the quantity allowed to the family, to preserve order, keep the pavilion in a neat and respectable condition, to answer all questions civilly, to keep a daily record of visitors and the quantities of water taken in gallons and to report the same to the Superintendent at the end of each month.
The pay and allowances are as follows: a salary of $30 per month with a house of two rooms, with a chicken house and a garden all free of rent.
The accommodations are sufficient for two people who are satisfied with plain comfortable quarters and a man and his wife are preferred to a single man.
I shall be pleased to consider the application of a comrade who can give satisfactory references and can be recommended by your Post."
Within four days of writing this letter, Captain George T. Clark was selected as the new watchman being a veteran of the 91st Indiana Infantry. In a letter to the Secretary of Interior, Greene describes Clark as "a man 68 years of age but is well preserved".
© 2006 Dennis Muncrief