SULPHUR, OKLAHOMA — The Chickasaw National Recreation Area finally looks like it’s supposed to. Water comes right out of the ground at Antelope Springs.
The old basin at nearby Buffalo Springs is full of clear, blue water.
It’s hard to imagine now, that all this was bone dry up to the end of April.
“It’s come up a lot in just a week,” says Superintendent Bill Wright. “The running water sounds great.”
Wright and Ron Parker are taking regular walks around the park these days just to watch the levels come up.
“The water table comes up and it’s just like someone turning a faucet on,” says Wright.
Thank to severe drouth, Travertine Creek and the springs the fed it went dry in February, 2014 which made for a lonely summer in a park known for water.
Wright says, “A few weeks ago when Little Niagra Falls was totally dry it was a little depressing. When you go through summer like we did last year you don’t get many people down here. Not many people want to come and picnic at Little Niagra when there’s no water there.”
A dry park isn’t unprecedented.
New Superintendent Wright says the water table goes south about once every ten years. That means public fountains go dry too.
With just enough rain everything comes back to life.
“It’s kind of as it should be right?” comments a park visitor.
“It is,” he agrees. “This park was established for the protection of these waters. So when we have water again it sure makes it nice.”
Visitors can still see green grass and flowers that once had to sink roots to get water.
Now they’re under it.
Thanks to some good, soaking rains Wright has his old swimming holes back.
Wright recalls, “I can remember swimming at all these swimming holes. So, for me, it’s wonderful to see water back here.”
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area now has an overabundance of water.
Some low water crossings were closed temporarily because of flash flooding.
Creek and spring levels are expected to be normal in time for the big crowds expected for Memorial Day weekend.