Chickasaw National Recreation Area

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Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Travertine creek fall evening.jpg
Travertine Creek, in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Chickasaw National Recreation Area.jpg
Map of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Location Murray County, Oklahoma, USA
Nearest city Sulphur, OK
Coordinates 34°30′2″N96°58′20″W / 34.50056°N 96.97222°W / 34.50056; -96.97222 Coordinates: 34°30′2″N96°58′20″W / 34.50056°N 96.97222°W / 34.50056; -96.97222
Area 9,899 acres (40.06 km2) [1]
Established July 1, 1902
Visitors 1,212,139(in 2011) [2]
Governing body National Park Service
Website Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area situated in the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma near Sulphur in Murray County. It includes the former Platt National Park and Arbuckle Recreation District. [3]

National Recreation Area type of protected area in the United States

A National Recreation Area (NRA) is a designation for a protected area in the United States.

Arbuckle Mountains mountain in United States of America

The Arbuckle Mountains are an ancient mountain range in south-central Oklahoma in the United States. They lie in Murray, Carter, Pontotoc, and Johnston counties. The granite rocks of the Arbuckles date back to the Precambrian Eon some 1.4 billion years ago which were overlain by rhyolites during the Cambrian Period. The range reaches a height of 1,412 feet above sea level. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

The Arbuckles contain the most diverse suite of mineral resources in Oklahoma: limestone, dolomite, glass sand, granite, sand and gravel, shale, cement, iron ore, lead, zinc, tar sands, and oil and gas; all these minerals are, or have been, produced commercially.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.


The area was established as Sulphur Springs Reservation on July 1, 1902; renamed and redesignated Platt National Park on June 29, 1906; combined with the Arbuckle Recreation Area and additional lands and renamed and redesignated on 17 March 1976. Of the park's 9,888.83 acres (4,002 ha), water covers 2,409 acres (975 ha). The park contains many fine examples of 1930's Civilian Conservation Corps architecture. CCC workers created pavilions, park buildings, and enclosures for the park's many natural springs. [4]

Civilian Conservation Corps public work relief program

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to ages 17–28. Robert Fechner was the first director of the agency, succeeded by James McEntee following Fechner's death. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 per month.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area preserves partially forested hills of south-central Oklahoma near Sulphur. Named to honor the Chickasaw Indian Nation, who were relocated to the area from the Southeastern United States during the 1830s (and who later sold the original 640 acres (260 ha) of land for the park to the Federal government), the park's springs, streams, and lakes provide opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, camping, and hiking, among other activities. As part of the Chickasaw tribe's arrangement with the U.S. government, the park does not charge an admission fee.

Sulphur, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Sulphur is a city in and county seat of Murray County, Oklahoma, United States. Founded by the Poteet tribe in 1837. This was long before the Barefoot clan or the Flowers had immigrated from neighboring Davis, Oklahoma. The population was 4,929 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent gain from 4,794 at the 2000 census. The area around Sulphur has been noted for its mineral springs, since well before the city was founded late in the 19th Century. The city received its name from the presence of sulfur in the water.

Chickasaw indigenous people of Southeastern Woodlands of the US

The Chickasaw are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. They are of the Muskogean language family and are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation.


CCC stone work at Hillside Spring. Hillside Spring 03.JPG
CCC stone work at Hillside Spring.

When the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes were forced to move from their former lands in the southeastern United States, they found an area within the new Chickasaw nation that contained a number of natural fresh and mineral springs that they believed had healing powers. Fearing that developers would turn the springs into a private resort, as had happened earlier at Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Chickasaw sold a 640-acre parcel to the U. S. Government, which named it the Sulphur Springs Reservation in 1902. [5]

Hot Springs, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Hot Springs is a city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.

Platt National Park

"Bromide Pavilion" built by Civilian Conservation Corps in Platt National Park. Photo made July 12, 2007. PLATT NATIONAL PARK HISTORIC DISTRICT.jpg
"Bromide Pavilion" built by Civilian Conservation Corps in Platt National Park. Photo made July 12, 2007.

In 1902, Orville H. Platt, a senator from Connecticut, introduced legislation to establish the 640-acre Sulphur Springs Reservation, protecting 32 freshwater and mineral springs, in Murray County, Oklahoma (then part of Indian Territory). The reservation officially opened to the public April 29, 1904. [6] On June 29, 1906, Congress re-designated the reservation as Platt National Park, named for the senator, a year after his death. It had the distinctions of being the seventh and smallest national park created in the United States, as well as the only national park in Oklahoma.

Orville H. Platt American politician

Orville Hitchcock Platt was a United States Senator from Connecticut. Platt was a prominent conservative Republican and by the 1890s he became one of the "big four" key Republicans who largely controlled the major decisions of the Senate, along with William B. Allison of Iowa, John Coit Spooner of Wisconsin and Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode Island.

Murray County, Oklahoma County in the United States

Murray County is a county located in the southern part of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 13,488. This is a 6.9 percent increase from 12,623 at the 2000 census. The county seat is Sulphur. The county was named for William H. Murray, a member and president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and later a Governor of Oklahoma.

Indian Territory U.S. 17th-, 18th- and early-20th-century territory set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas

As general terms, Indian Territory, the Indian Territories, or Indian country describe an evolving land area set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of Native Americans who held aboriginal title to their land. In general, the tribes ceded land they occupied in exchange for land grants in 1803. The concept of an Indian Territory was an outcome of the 18th- and 19th-century policy of Indian removal. After the Civil War (1861–1865), the policy of the government was one of assimilation.

U.S. quarter features the Lincoln Bridge in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. 05Chickasaw-National-Recreation-Area-Quarter-Design-300x300.jpg
U.S. quarter features the Lincoln Bridge in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

Visitors soon thronged to the new national park. Both the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe) had built spur lines to Sulphur, which became the main entrance to the park. According to the National Park Service (NPS), in 1914, Platt had more visitors than either Yellowstone or Yosemite. [7]

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway company

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, often referred to as the Santa Fe or AT&SF, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. Chartered in February 1859, the railroad reached the Kansas-Colorado border in 1873 and Pueblo, Colorado, in 1876. To create a demand for its services, the railroad set up real estate offices and sold farm land from the land grants that it was awarded by Congress. Despite the name, its main line never served Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the terrain was too difficult; the town ultimately was reached by a branch line from Lamy.

Yellowstone National Park first national park in the world, located in the US states Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Yosemite National Park National park in California, United States

Yosemite National Park is an American national park located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 747,956 acres and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

In the 1930s, crews of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps developed the park's infrastructure, applying then-popular ideas of landscape design to create a tranquil and scenic oasis. The environment built during this time has remained well-preserved, [8] and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011.

Creation of CNRA

Platt National Park was abolished by Congress and made part of the much larger Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA) in 1976, which included Lake of the Arbuckles. [9]

In 1983, the city of Sulphur traded the 67-acre Veterans Lake to the recreation area in exchange for a strip of land above the State Highway Seven bridge. [3]

In 2011, the United States Mint issued a quarter featuring the Chickasaw's Lincoln Bridge, a limestone bridge built in 1909 to commemorate the 100th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, as part of its America the Beautiful Quarters series. [10]

Travertine district

Travertine district, embracing the old Platt National Park, is like a large city park, three miles long and less than one mile wide. A narrow road circles the district, passing by parking areas, camp and picnic grounds, the Travertine Nature Center, swimming holes, springs, and a bison pasture. Travertine Creek, joined by Rock Creek, flows through the district, rising in Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs at the eastern end of the park. The springs produce 5 million gallons per day (20 million liters) of cool, crystal clear-water and form Travertine Creek which is joined by Rock Creek about 2 miles from its source. A number of other fresh water and mineral springs contribute to Travertine and Rock Creek as they flow through Travertine District, dropping in small waterfalls over several ledges. Several miles of walking and biking trails wind through the heavily forested creek bottomland. Very popular and often crowded in summer, the Travertine district has been described as an oasis in the Oklahoma prairie. [11]

Travertine Creek in Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma Chickasaw National Recreation Area, OK.jpg
Travertine Creek in Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

Lake of the Arbuckles

Arbuckle Dam and Reservoir Arbuckle Dam.jpg
Arbuckle Dam and Reservoir

Most of the National Recreational Area is taken up by the 2,350 acre (950 ha) Lake of the Arbuckles and the prairie and woodland along its shores. The scenic lake is a principal water supply reservoir for the city of Ardmore, some 30 mi (48 km) to the southwest. Lake of the Arbuckles was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1966 by impounding Rock Creek. Water quality and clarity are excellent. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has rated the lake as the best for bass fishing in the state [12] . The lake features 36 miles of shoreline. Fishing is permitted year-round for crappie, catfish, largemouth bass, white bass and bluegill. Facilities include three campgrounds for tents and RVs, picnic areas, public restrooms, boat docks and ramps, and several miles of multi-use trails. [11] Hunting is also allowed, and typically hunted species are quail, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, dove, ducks, geese, and deer. However, due to heavy hunting pressure and small area size, game is declining and trapping is prohibited. Hunting regulations and certain special rules (such as not killing male deer), are designed to regulate the hunt. [13]

See also

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Further reading