Where did the springs go?

When I was a kid we’d go to my Grandpa Hambrick’s house by driving through Rascal Flats and then up a windy road through Keetonville hill.   Along the old state highway were concrete basins on the side of the hill.  They were full of clear, cold spring water.  Folks would drive from all around to fill water jugs with this clean, unprocessed water.

I reckon these basins were built by the WPA or some other depression era make work project.  Dad told me people would water their horse and livestock at these basins.  Folks who didn’t have indoor plumbing would fill containers for potable water and take them back to their home places.  Being very hilly, model T and model A Fords would overheat climbing this hill and the drivers were pleased to have that water source there.

The wife and I used to stop at one of these basins in Cherokee county as we headed back into town from her grandparents.  A stream of water about the diameter of a quarter poured into a concrete and flint rock basin from of an old 3” pipe that looked like it was driven in the cliff face.  That water flowed out of that pipe day and night, unceasingly for around 100 years.  We’d stop get a drink.  We always filled our water bottles. Really we just stopped to be there and check on the old spring.

There are other basins around this part of Oklahoma that I remember from childhood.   

Most all of them are still there.

None of them have water flowing into them anymore.

I don’t know if the cause is the depletion of the aquifer under Green Country.  I don’t know if the rainwater simply runs off due to the lack of carbon in the soil and biomass above the soil.

All I know is that good water doesn’t flow anymore.

In Oklahoma history class we read some old treaties that were made with the Indians.  They were often for the duration defined by “as long as the grass is green and the water flows.”

Well the water ain’t flowing.   I reckon all bets are off.

3 thoughts on “Where did the springs go?”

  1. I remember driving up and down Keetonville Hill also, along that curvy, windy road that made you think you were in a another state. On really cold days you could see the huge frozen spikes, shaped like bulbous swords from the water that seeped from the rock on the canyon wall along one side. But hey, that was the late-80s and now I see online that road is being bypassed in favor of a four-lane monstrosity that just goes directly up and over.

    Even though I haven’t live within 250 miles for a few decades now, I’ll miss it. Imagine my surprise when describing the road to someone earlier today and wanting to find a video of its beauty only to find it long gone, just like so many memories of my youth in Oklahoma.

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