Sulphur, Oklahoma

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Sulphur, Oklahoma
Chickasaw Nation Artesian Hotel in Sulphur
Chickasaw Nation Artesian Hotel in Sulphur
"City of Springs"
Location of Sulphur, Oklahoma
Location of Sulphur, Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°30′33″N 96°58′31″W / 34.50917°N 96.97528°W / 34.50917; -96.97528Coordinates: 34°30′33″N 96°58′31″W / 34.50917°N 96.97528°W / 34.50917; -96.97528
CountryUnited States
 • Total7.0 sq mi (18.0 km2)
 • Land6.8 sq mi (17.7 km2)
 • Water0.1 sq mi (0.4 km2)
1,086 ft (305 m)
 • Total4,929
 • Density703.10/sq mi (271.5/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)580
FIPS code40-71350[1]
GNIS feature ID1098617[2]

Sulphur is a city in and county seat of Murray County, Oklahoma, United States. Founded by the Poteet tribe in 1837. This was long before the Barefoot clan or the Flowers had immigrated from neighboring Davis, Oklahoma.[3] The population was 4,929 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent gain from 4,794 at the 2000 census. The area around Sulphur has been noted for its mineral springs, since well before the city was founded late in the 19th Century. The city received its name from the presence of sulfur in the water.[4][a]


This area was part of the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory during the late 19th Century. The first known settler was Noah Lael, son-in-law of former Chickasaw Governor Cyrus Harris, who built a ranch south of Pavilion Springs in 1878. In 1882, Harris sold the ranch to Perry Froman, a part Chickasaw rancher. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture says the ranch house was the first residence in Sulphur.[4]

About 1890, a group of fisherman built a clubhouse at the Sulphur site. Conventions and other gatherings began meeting in the vicinity during the early 1890s. The clubhouse owners enlarged the building and sold it for use as a hotel. Richard A. Sneed, a lawyer who visited the area about 1890 and soon after organized the Sulphur Springs Company. The company bought 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land from Froman Ranch and platted a townsite. A post office named Sulphur was established October 2, 1895.[4] The Sulphur Headlight, the first newspaper in town, began publication in 1899, and the first telephone exchange in town went into service in 1900.[5]

In 1902, the Sulphur Springs Railroad was constructed from Sulphur to Scullin, a distance of 6 miles (9.7 km), where it connected to the newly completed St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco).[5] The Frisco bought the Sulphur Springs Railroad in 1907.[4]

In 1902, the U.S. Government and the Chickasaw Nation agreed to preserve the area around the hot springs, and called it the Sulphur Springs Reservation, later renaming it as Platt National Park.[b] People and buildings were required to move out of the reservation area. The people resettled nearby, creating two communities, West Sulphur and East Sulphur, divided by Rock Creek. Another such move occurred in 1904, when the U.S, government decided to add another 200 acres (0.81 km2) to the new park.[5] The reservation officially opened to the public on April 29, 1904.[7] Platt National Park was abolished by Congress and made part of the much larger Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA) in 1976, which included Lake of the Arbuckles.[6]

Sulphur defeated Davis, Oklahoma in an election in 1908 to determine the location of the county seat of the newly created Murray County.[4]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.0 square miles (18 km2), of which 6.8 square miles (18 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (2.16%) is water. Sulphur is in southern Oklahoma, about 84 miles (135 km) southeast of Oklahoma City.[4]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20155,097[8]3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 4,794 people, 1,877 households, and 1,244 families residing in the city. The population density was 703.1 people per square mile (271.4/km²). There were 2,220 housing units at an average density of 325.6 per square mile (125.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.45% White, 1.36% African American, 12.72% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.52% from other races, and 4.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.80% of the population.

There were 1,877 households out of which 100.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,236, and the median income for a family was $35,000. Males had a median income of $28,712 versus $19,438 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,691. About 7.9% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.5% of those under age 18 and 13.5% of those age 65 or over.


Although extraction industries (asphalt, lead, and zinc mines) have long been important, tourism is now the primary support to the local economy.[4]


Travertine Creek, in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, located in the foothills of the Arbuckles near Sulphur.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area (originally Platt National Park), a popular destination for many regional tourists, is located just east of the town of Sulphur. Among the smallest parks in the National Park System, Chickasaw N.R.A. averages 3–4 million visitors per year[citation needed]. Principal attractions in Sulphur besides the park are sulfurous water springs in town that were once thought to cure ailments and other medical conditions. The pungent odor and taste are quite popular with some people. Other attractions include the Arbuckle Mountain range, just to the southwest, complete with many hiking and recreational opportunities.

Sulphur is also the home to the newly finished Chickasaw Cultural Center, a museum which tells the story of the Chickasaw Nation.

Vendome Well remains the state's largest artesian spring. Its sulfur water fed a stream that converged with Travertine Creek and formed a small lake. People smeared the lake's mud on their bodies to cure ailments.[4]


Keith Mann was hired as City Manager of Sulphur, beginning January 1, 2014. He was formerly the police chief of Ardmore, Oklahoma.[10]


The city of Sulphur is served by the Sulphur Public School District. The first public school opened in 1904. There is one elementary, intermediate, junior high and high school. As of October 2008, the enrollment for the district was at 1,383 students.

Athletics are a major piece of the school culture in Sulphur. Football is the most popular sport, and the Bulldogs have won State Championships in class 3A (2002) and 2A (2004). They were the 3A state runner-up in 2003. Powerlifting, basketball and baseball are also popular sports. The Bulldogs have won state championships in both baseball (1966 and 2004) and powerlifting (2005 and 2006). There has been a long and heated rivalry between Sulphur and the neighboring town of Davis, OK, located just 7 miles to the west, known locally as the Murray County Bedlam.

Oklahoma School for the Deaf is also located in Sulphur, Oklahoma. It opened in 1908 to provide the same educational opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students as other schools provide for hearing students. These also include participation in sports: football, volleyball, track, etc.


Roads and highways[edit]

Major highways are:

Notable people[edit]

  • Wayne Bennett, Blues guitarist, was born in Sulphur.
  • Roy Joseph Turner served as state governor from 1947 to 1951. Turner was born on November 6, 1894, in Lincoln County, Oklahoma Territory, and by 1928 he had become an independent oil producer. In 1933 he established the Turner Ranch near Sulphur, OK. Turner Turnpike, linking Tulsa with Oklahoma City was named for him.
  • Loyd Arms In 1942, as a junior at Oklahoma A&M University, he won the NCAA Wrestling National Championship in the heavyweight division. Arms was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals with the 129th overall selection of the 1943 NFL Draft, becoming the second player in the history of Oklahoma A&M to be drafted into the NFL.


  1. ^ When the city was founded, either sulphur or sulfur was acceptable spelling for the name of the chemical element in English. Later in the 20th Century, sulfur was accepted as the standard by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). However, the original spelling has been retained by the city for its name.
  2. ^ The park was named for Senator Orville H. Platt from Connecticut, who sponsored the legislation.For 74 years, Platt was Oklahoma's only National Park. Platt National Park was abolished by Congress, and made part of the much larger Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA) in 1976, which included Lake of the Arbuckles.[6]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Muncrief, Dennis. "Sulphur". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed October 13, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Murray County, Oklahoma." OK Gen Web. Accessed October 13, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Cold Splinters. "Platt National Park/Oklahoma Oasis." Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  7. ^ National Park Service. Chickasaw National Recreation Area. "Creating the Park:1902-1910."Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Keith Mann announced as Sulphur city manager." KXII News 12. December 12, 2013. Accessed October 13, 2016.

See also[edit]

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

External links[edit]