A collection of postcard images documenting the golden age of flowing artesian wells across the United States and the world, generally from the early 1900s and with a bias toward Texas. Also included, from time to time, are other water-related postcards.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

a visit to the Vendome Well in Sulphur, Oklahoma


As y'all know, I love flowing artesian wells (let the armchair psychologists "Hmmmm...." for a moment...). Unfortunately, many flowing wells don't flow anymore, so it's a real treat to visit a historical well that continues to do its thing.

I was at a water meeting in Ada, Oklahoma. There ain't much in Ada, so I took a look at the map to see what was in the area to maybe go gawk at in the evening. And lo and behold, a mere 30 minutes away, was Sulphur! I hooked up with an old college buddy who was also at the meeting, and we high-tailed it down to Sulphur right at the end of the conference, ties, suit coats, and all.

Back in the early 1900s, Sulphur, like many towns in the US that had saline springs or wells, was a resort destination where people could partake of the waters in the hopes of curing various ailments. This was a booming business up until the 1940s (or so) when the Feds required science to back the various medical claims as to the curative powers of the waters. Since there was no science, many resorts, no longer able to make ludicrous claims, faded away. The Vendome Well (and Sulphur in general) was no different.









Fortunately, the well is still there as part of the Chickasaw National Recreational Area (formerly the Platt National Park). There's a slight scent of sulphur when you approach the well; nothing offensive, but you know it's there. I sipped from a squirting water fountain at the well site; just a hint of salinity (the water is probably just north of fresh at 1,000 ppm of total dissolved solids). As you can see from the photos above, there used to be a pool next door with a water slide and diving board. These days, the flow heads down a small drainage to a nearby creek. According to my co-hort, the flow has slowly declined over the years. The city shuts the well down at night these days to preserve pressure.





Nearby in the park are various springs, including Bromide Springs:



Sulphur-loving bacterial strands!

Which has also been around awhile:


Befitting a resort town, Sulphur has a large resort hotel called The Artesian.


Neat card showing the front and backside of the hotel. Note the flowing artesian well in the courtyard.


This card fuses the front and backside into one large building #falseadvertising



The hotel was still there and operational until a few years ago when it was razed burned to the ground in 1962 and was replaced by a motor court called the Artesian Motor Hotel.


The Chickasaw Nation bought and ran the motor court until they replaced it with the new Artesian Hotel Casino and Spa which opened in 2013:



On one hand, sad to have missed the original Artesian and for it to be gone; on the other hand, nice that the Artesian moves forward into a new century.


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