REED, Okla. (KFOR) – Back when this area was still part of the state of Texas, when they called it Old Greer County, this area was always hot and dry.

The Salt Fork River came by its name honestly.

So an artesian spring coming straight out of a hillside north and west of Mangum, Okla., made this spot popular with everyone around.

Darla Norton lives right next door to Jay Buckle Springs.

Her kids learned to swim here, but long before that Native American tribes knew right where it was.

Early settlers got their water here.

The Jay Buckle Ranch put their headquarters here and gave it the name.

“It is an oasis in the middle of a desert,” states Darla. “There was no good water anywhere around here.”

The whole surrounding community takes care of this little oasis now, including Ronnie Maddox, who swam here before tractors had overhead cabs.

“It’s our lifeblood,” he says. “We’d always come down here about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, jump in the springs to cool off, and then get back on the tractor and got to plowing.”

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Jay Buckle Springs. Image KFOR

It might not look it but the water comes out of the hillside clear and sweet.

“It looks bad,” admits Darla.

“I’ll stir it up when I get in,” cajoles the first swimmer of the day.

“Yeah,” chuckles Darla. “You’ll stir it up.”

In the old days they wouldn’t even let the horses drink from this pool.

“It was drinking water. It was cooking water,” says Maddox.

Ronnie also tells us the level is lower because nearby ranchers are already keeping their cattle alive by taking thousands of gallons from the spring every day.

“If it weren’t for this watering hole,” he argues, “Most of the cattle in this area that have to be watered would have to go to the sale barn.”

Aside from its necessity as a resource, kids and families still come here to cool off too.

The bottom is concrete so it’s not too deep.

We hear the rope swing is pretty fun but advanced age and abundant caution advised us to jump in from a lower perch.

Water in a dry country is as precious as ever.

Jay Buckle Springs still runs out of the mountain, and hot, thirsty people still flock to it.

The area was actually added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Maddox says drivers have to slow down for extra traffic on weekends when the springs are busy.

Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union