Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cold Springs...sort of.

It was a cold, dreary January day. Not even the sun felt like making an appearance. It was a day to spend on the couch next to a warm fire while reading a book and sipping coffee out of a 44oz cup. That's the kind of day it was. Of course, one can spend a day reading any day. The opportunity to go out on a small adventure presented itself (and with a partner in crime, at that) so I thanked Serendipity and took it.

It's funny how when there's no rush and no specific plan that things just tend to work better than when a lot of planning is put into a trip. We left Stone Turtle Ranch at leisure and no designated time. Blueberry, unfortunately, was left in the warm garage. I can't expect Blueberry to always want to go ride when I do. Vain of me, isn't it?

I thought it couldn't hurt to swing over to the Narrows in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife refuge since I had a hunch the climbers I missed yesterday may try their luck there if they hadn't frozen to their sleeping bags the night before. I, of course, had to stop (yes, again) to take some pictures of some buffalo relaxing along the side of the road into the Narrows. As we approach the parking area, I spot the bright yellow car I left a note on yesterday. Was my hunch dead-on or what? I think I've still got some intuitions to gain before I apply to a sleuthing school. And, wouldn't you know, Serendipity was still with me because just as we got closer to the car, one of the climbers came back to his car. We had managed to catch them just as they started out to find the trail.

Since Serendipity had been so kind to me today, I had absolutely no concerns about being able to take the time to share the beauty of my stomping grounds with the climbers. Since my adventurous partner in crime had no qualms with taking a short spontaneous walk into the Narrows, off we went. I was a little surprised to find the water in West Cache Creek was still frozen. Had I known, I could have brought some ice skates since Lawton is not up to speed when it comes to winter activities.We let the climbers start climbing and started on our way back to the car. Not much was seen on the way out of the refuge, just the three buffalo who I captured on film. Because captured on SD card just doesn't  sound as good.

The general idea was to find a little abandoned mining town called Cold Springs. But, since Roosevelt and Mountain Park were in that area, we were in a car, and Serendipity was being so good to us, we cruised the streets/junk yards.  Roosevelt is filled with junk yards. If you have a project vehicle and need parts, try going there. I'm sure you'll find what you need. The old Arts and Crafts building is crammed with bumpers, hoods, doors, etc. The old high school (built in 1930) across the street from the Arts and Crafts building is surprisingly big for a rural school built in 1930. Found the old, old school house, too. We found a small cafe which was currently open and closed. Both signs were hanging in the window. Since there were no lights, we figured it was currently using the closed sign. I thought I had a post with some Roosevelt/Mt. Park history, but I couldn't find anything. So look back for another post soon!
Found at Roosevelt's bar.
After checking out Roosevelt's Cemetery and driving by a haunted house (or so it was labeled), we made our way south. I was very excited to go looking for Cold Springs along the north shore of Tom Steed Reservoir. Now, I'll admit some of my appeal for Cold Springs comes from the legend that the stolen loot of a stage coach headed to Fort Sill circa 1885 is rumored to be buried on the banks of Otter Creek. I counted county roads utterly confused when 1530 came after 2320 only to find out that Cold Springs has a gigantic sign along the highway. We turned onto the dirt road and started driving towards the reservoir. There's a tiny community back there and no more signs to be found. There was a road crossing over the railroad in two spots, but since someone forgot to bring a map, we weren't sure if that was a good idea since two locals had just ambled back over the tracks. I always think that in places like Roosevelt and the country surrounding it, they'd never find the bodies. Keeps me from places I probably shouldn't be exploring...sometimes. Since we were running out of daylight hours, we called it good for the day, and started looking for the Gold Belle Mine. 

The remnants of the old mine are right off the highway and easy to find if you're driving north on HWY 183. As far as I was able to find, this smelter was part of an illegal miner camp, Wildman, established in 1901 which was destroyed by Fort Sill's soldiers. The only things left to see of the cyanide ore mill (which never processed ore) are the cooling tower and the concrete foundations. It looks to be the local hangout judging by the trash at the bottom of the old cooling tower. 

After efficiently braking for the first historical marker once I had the notion I wanted to see the marker, I had my buddy holding on to the handle next to the passenger seat for the rest of the ride along with the comment "Jesus! You need a bumper sticker that reads I brake for historical markers." Well, I think I need a bumper sticker that reads I randomly decide to brake for weird things whenever I please.
Before turning around, we cruised through the six or so streets that make up Mountain Park. They have a post office, a bank, a small park, and a closed cafe (surprise, surprise). Mountain Park never experienced the glory it could have since the guy who was supposed to sell his land to the railroad back in the day thought he could get more than $6,000 and demanded more money. The railroad altered its plans, left Mountain Park in the dust, and made Snyder fit into the plan instead. All but seven of the businesses which had been established in Mountain Park then moved to Snyder. A lesson about the effects of greed.

For pictures from this adventure please check out the Facebook album.
This blog is brought to you by the lovely (biased opinion, we know) Stone Turtle – Lodging, a small family owned and operated hotel / lodging business near Lawton, Oklahoma, Fort Sill,  the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Meers and Medicine Park. Yeah, that’s right we’re a small lodging business close to all the awesomeness Oklahoma has to offer!!

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