Turner Falls, Price Falls, and Falls Creek

Falls Creek old logo, with some refinements.

It is so ironic that basically the camp that left to get away from Falls Creek made a full circle return in 2013.  It is not on the actual campgrounds but is only a few miles west.  The old Assembly of God camp is a nice facility that has three times the capacity as Hudgens with 650 people.  It does lack Hudgens' extensive 8 mile trail system and full service waterfront.  I know I did pass by one time and they had a large plastic sheet set up where they were sliding into the creek.   Another down side to this camp is highway noise as its right on US 74.  The Assemblies of God built a new camp in Sparks, Ok with more than three times the capacity and all new facilities.

Family 16mm film made of Turner Falls and HW 77in 1928.  It also has footage of Camp Cunningham, now known as Camp Classen.  It is located north of Turner Falls on the west side of I-35.  The pic on the right is a still capture.

1928 Horseshoe bend above Turner Falls

Bonnie and Clyde hid out in the Arbuckle mountains after one of the many bank robberies.  The photo above shows where their photo was taken.

Bonnie and Clyde Barrow in Oklahoma

Because of all the tektonic activity in the area through the ages, and also because of the caverns and shafts, people mined for gold.  They were not very successful but people in Lawton got very rich.

In the late 1890’s an old blacksmith made his way into the town of Davis, I.T.  He asked for directions to Mill Creek and  Ft. Arbuckle.  He explored the area and as time passed became friends with Sam Davis a merchant in Davis.  The story was related to Davis that the blacksmith had a map given him by another old man who had died in his livery stable in Missouri.  The map showed where the stolen gold shipment was buried.  The old man looked for years and spent his entire fortune looking for the elusive treasure.

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 25., 1900 -- George F. Nipps, who lives near Ardmore, Indian Territory, was to-day in this city and detailed the extent of the gold excitement in the Arbuckle Mountains. Mr. Nipps has not caught the "gold fever," and talks in a conservative manner of the rich finds that have been made. For twenty years he has lived in that Territory, and he is one of the wealthiest "squaw men" in that country.

There was a payroll robbery of gold coins headed for Fort Arbuckle just north of Turner Falls area.  The bandits got away by going through Sulphur.  They went a few miles east of Sulphur where they supposedly took Mill Creek and followed it south unitl they found a cave.  They split up the gold coins in three ways among the robbers.  One headed to Missouri where he was caught and died in a shootout.  The other two followed Mill Creek until they found a cave.  They buried two cans of coins in the cave and then went back to Mexico.  Supposedly, a Mexican one day returned and dug up one of the cans of coins but did not find the other one.  So, the other one could be still in the cave buried somewhere.

                  Unspoiled Arbuckle wilderness

People camped out on public land in the Arbuckles.  The ample supply of fresh water and the nice view made it a popular spot for those wanting a low cost opportunity to connect with nature.  Falls Creek was first known as a tent city.

This is what J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer would have found when they first hiked through the area now occupied by Falls Creek. 

These undentified guys found a nice fishing spot in

the Arbuckles.

Turner Falls Creek before development

I like to think that Rev. Moorer and Rev. Rounds were these two guys just passing some idle time by catching some crappie or bass.  Hudgens wouldn't have got started if Falls Creek didn't exist when the R.A. camps met there in the 50's.

This is very close to where they moved Crosstimbers and shows the cyclical nature of mankind.

Baptist encampment Okemah, OK

 
Reminds me of the former teaching pavilions at Falls Creek.  After the morning session you went off to find one for your grade level.

1924 church camp, Red Rock, OK

An old timey camp baptism.

People camping out in Arbuckle mtns.    

That familiar high road view

Known as the Palacine Indian statue stating "FRIEND", they have both disappeared from Oklahoma and the one on the left wound  up in Ballinger Texas at a high school.

The one on the left at the Turner Falls gas station (now a two story building), has been moved into Ardmore at and old gas station.

Get to Turner Falls in a bathtub.

My earliest memory of Turner Falls is driving through the area in a VW bus my dad owned.  We often stopped and swam while they were still finishing I-35.  Then I remember later visiting it with the Trinity Baptist Church youth group while on the way to a Falls Creek Retreat at the Trinity Cabin.  I remember first playing a few rounds of pool in the game room with friends.

There is an extensive network of caves in the Turner Falls area and at The Goddard Ranch.  The lady pictured on the right is Ethel Hindman.  There is a cave near Turner Falls on the Camp Classen property named after her called, Wild Woman Cave.  Another is Torture Cave.  It has large caverns and other strange things.  People have been lost exploring these caves.  I put a clipping of one such incident in the 30's. Mrs Goddard was from the local area and started cooking for Nunny Cha Ha.  Then Royal Ambassadors at Falls Creek.  When Hudgens was purchased, she drove to McAlester to cook there.  Her family is still in the area.

These are some of the extensive caves around the Turner Falls and Nebo area.  People should not explore them without qualified guides familiar with the risks and the techniques of spelunking

Diagram of Wild Woman Cave

Below Falls Creek dam

This is obviously right after the construction of the dam and before development of the lower area near the creek.  You don't see the water treatment building or holding pool.  It also shows the old alignment of the creek.

1965 Topo Map

Chickasaw, Indian Territory

Falls Creek old school

If my analysis skills are correct,   This view is looking north toward the icee stand and current bookstore.  The upper parking area with that 40's era vehicle on the right is where the current office and lodge is now located.

Rev. Rounds and Moorer enjoyed fishing the creeks of the area.  They discoverd a great place to hunt and fish and thought that since the BYPU were meeting at neighboring Sulpher Springs, they thought this would be a good place to esatblish a permanent camp for the youth retreats.  J.B. Rounds had taken over the leadership of the Indian Territory BYPU and was looking for some other place to meet.  He had taken over the reins from Eugene Ernest Lee, related to General Robert E. Lee and our own Bob Lee of BSU/BCM fame.  Rev. Rounds and Moorer convinced the Oklahoma Baptist Convention to purchase 160 of acres of land for a new BYPU encampment.  The center of the camp was known as Buzzard Hill and they prayed that God would guide the leadership in this new endeavor.  J.B. Rounds founded Trinity Baptist Church.  It was the church my family was born into (parents).  J.B. built one of the best cabins that lasted up until the construction of the new tabernacle.  I should note that the land that the cabin stood on is still vacant and really could have been saved.  But the leadership of the time wanted to do his absolute best to totally wipe out anything from the past history of the camp as he builds only his new history.  Progress is fine, but wiping out the Trinity cabin was unncesessary.

Rounds often wrote for The Baptist Messenger, founded Trinity Church in Oklahoma City, and eventually served as the executive secretary for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. In 1911, Rounds, along with fellow Southern Seminary graduate, W. D. Moorer, located a place in the Arkbuckle mountains for a young people’s encampment. The two men found a suitable 160-acre plot, purchased it, and gave it the name Falls Creek. They selected “Buzzard Hill” as its central site.  The purchase price was $1200.

In 1917, J. B. Rounds and W. W. Moorer held an assembly with 273 in attendance.  The first tabernacle was 30 X 50 foot tent in 1917.

 

Prior to the arrival of a group of students, Rounds once offered this prayer: “Father, we’ve worked hard for this assembly, and we both love it so much. We might not be able to see Your will. If you would have Oklahoma Baptists go on with an assembly at Falls Creek, show us, Father, so that we will know. Let us have at least one conversion.”

That evening, not one, but two, young people were converted to Jesus Christ. Since those early days, Rounds’ legacy at Falls Creek remains a crucial investment in the life of Oklahoma as a place set apart for the preaching of the Gospel and the teaching of the Bible to thousands of young people.

The Tabernacle under construction.

The bell called the services.  But when I worked there in 1981, we would take a broom and reach through the fence and ring it at 2AM.  Then run....

Trinity Cabin, by J.B. Rounds

Everybody has their own favorite memory of the Tabernacle.  Where they sat, writing something on the back of a seat, and making that life changing decision.  If you wanted a cooler seat, you volunteered for the choir because you could sit near a large exhaust fan.   The coolest position was in the sound booth.  Then the spotight and camera position in the ceiling that was under another fan.  I remember sitting near the outcropping toward B.B. McKinney when Gene sprung "Don't just quit" on us.  He ran through it once and then said, "Look, its not "God has better things ahead for us to do." Its, "God has better things for us ahead to do."  Its symantics but he's the boss.

The Baylus Benjamin McKinney years

      Just a few of his favorite hymns

Wherever He leads I'll go

The nail scarred hand

Breath on me

Have faith in God

I love to tell the story

Glorious is thy name

 

 

Just how beautiful was B.B. McKinney Chapel?  Too bad it could not have been dissasembled and moved somewhere.  I took a good look at it and determined that it could have been taken apart and rebuilt.  But they decided to destroy it instead.  It was air conditioned and a great place where we praacticed all those years with Young Musicians.   One year Chuck Bridwell of Trinity B.C. was our camp leader.  We then did the concert at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City.  This building got hit by ligthing I believe in 1982 when I was working pop and ice cream.  I remember the bright flash and loud bang.  I left the snack shop that later turned into the program office and the roof corner you see was burning.  Then it started to rain hard and it put out the flames.

 Young Musician's Camp

Now called :Worship Arts Camp For Kids

For a lot of kids from the Capital Baptist Association, Young Musicians Camp at Falls Creek was your very first time there outside of events at your own church cabin.  For us at Trinity Baptist Church OKC, we were there with pretty much the entire BGCO music staff of the day.  The way it worked, you spent 3 days working on a musical.  These musicals were geared toward the age group.  We also did all the fun stuff you could do back then like swimming, ball games, hiking, tennis, Icees, etc.  The practices were done in BB McKinney which made your first encampment xperience fun as it was air conditioned. When it was done, we returned home and then on Saturday evening, you performed the musical that you had practiced all week.  That's where the parents and church members got to see your work.  I remember one year we had the musical in the Civic Center.  That was really the venue of the day.  The score was from John Fischer and called "The New Covenant."  It was fun, memorable, and had a lot of life lessons I remember to this day like it happened yesterday.  I think John is a Christian version of John Denver with his soulful songs.

E.M. Bartlett, VICTORY IN JESUS

Some Gene Bartlett Era Falls Creek Songs are:                                                     (TAP ON LINKS BELOW!))

 

 

 

God is watching over me

Don't just quit

(God has better things ahead)

 

 

I am free (Markham)

 

Lets play GUESS THE ERA.

When did they make those cool tweed pants?

After uncle Gene retired, Paul Magar took over the reins at Music.  The fomat stayed the same with some refinements.  He was in an unfortunate airplane accident with Mary June Tabor and Dr. James Woodward.  Then Bill Green took the leadership role and lead Falls Creek from a congregational music program to a rock band performance style that it remains today.  It was in tune with "keep Falls Creek young" format it has always had.

The Gene Bartlett Bell Tower

Carl Ayers, who designed the bell tower, places one of three clocks before the tower was raised in 1988..

The tower was designed by Carl
Ayers of the Falls Creek staff and
constructed by Moxley Steel of
W ynnewood. A Maas-Rowe Carillon digital Chronobell system provides bell calls, and a digital playerrecorder permits the 50-bell carillon  to be recorded for playback. It was dedicated each week during the 1989 sessions of Falls Creek. Part of the dedication ceremonies included autograph sessions with Emma Jean
Bartlett, who signed the book she
wrote, Grace So Amazing, about her late husband.

Jon Duncan came to Nicoma Park FBC in the early 90's and made his mark through involvement in Singing Churchmen and with transforming NPFBC. He acted as pastor while they searched for a new one to replace Mark Estep.  He then went on to take a postion at the BGCO as a music assistant.  He made his mark on Falls Creek with helping modernize the style.  He performed the marriage ceremony for my sister and brother in law.  Jon is now state missionary of the Georgia Baptist convention.

Bill Green carried on traditions of Gene Bartlett and also took the Creek into a new age.  Bill stepped down as music head and took on the Conference Center transformation with the new outdoor and main Tabernacles.

One of the men to transform the Falls Creek program into the band performance style was Keith Haygood, now at Edmond FBC.  It was my pleasure to help Keith with an All State media project.

I visit Fort Worth and Dallas several times a year.  I hop on the Heartland Flyer and go to Fort Worth.  The section that passes the Washia River is the most beautiful scenery on the route.  I am one of the state's biggest supporter of the Flyer route.  I have even taken a train trip from downtown OKC all the way to Chicago a and back.

The Washita is truly one of our finest rivers.  It cut an amazing channel through the Arbuckles in tens of thousands of years.

From Kelham Baptist Church

Famous Falls Creek preacher Charlie Taylor was preaching the night Bisagno was saved, and in 1985, Bisagno tied the record with Taylor for having preached the most years at Falls Creek.

I love this photo of a guy at the pop stand.  My first job at Falls Creek in 1981 was at the Pop and Icecream stand.  It later became the program office and was torn down for the tabernacle project.

Falls Creek Map, traditional

E.P. Edwards, Nov, 1957 Administrator of Falls Creek

The new 1971 dollar bill rule.

Christmas at the Creek

1981

Young

Musicians

Myriad

This is a neat story in the Messenger.  I spent the early 80's working at Falls Creek in pop and ice cream and rec staff.  We would often send someone into Ardmore to get us pizza because we were often hungry at night.  It took an exit pass to get out at night so we parked a car on the other side of the fence at ball diamond #3 (now the new main entrance).  We also got into a water balloon raid with the OBU hut and Trinity Cabin.

This is the Dougherty train depot.  This plays a significant role in early Falls Creek experiences.  Hundreds of campers arrived each week to attend Falls Creek.  This was even prior to the construction of HW 77.

This was prior to HW 77 and the Doughterty station.  So this was a place that the train simply let people off so they could take hike over to the river or Turner Falls area.

It was bought and moved near Sulpher (about a mile west) on SH 7.  It ran as The Doughterty Diner for a while.  I ate there often with James and Cindy Lankford when James ran the Falls Creek program.  The diner moved into Davis and current status is unkown.

State of the Dougherty train station in 1986 before it was heroiclly saved and fully restored.  Then it was moved out near Sulphur.

1890 Price Falls

Powering Wiliam Nathan Price's sorgum mill circa 1876

The Nathan Price Falls waterwheel today.  The original is pictured above.  This current model was completed by a grant and work by a student group from Oklahoma State University.  The BGCO is now the conservator.

Nathan Price's Chapel 1900

Sad status of the Price Water Wheel as of Oct 2013.  Evidently someone tried to sit on it and collapsed one side.

Things that are gone

Status of the Price Chapel as of Oct 2013.  More of it collapses every day.  It is now located on the East side of what is left of the now divided Flying J Ranch.

People made short trips out to Burning Mountain just six miles SE of Falls Creek.  It was also a popular tourist attraction for people from Texas.  It was naural gas ignited by ligtning.

BYPU camp in Texas

Falls Creek started out as a BYPU camp.  Actually, the Baptist Young People's Union met at Sulphur Springs (Platt National Park) for their summer encampements.  It was a tent city of sorts.  It was one reason that Rev. Moorer and Rounds were looking for a permanent place for them to meet.  The BYPU camp in Palacios Texas is one of the oldest such facilites in the U.S.A.  It is still in operation and now known as Texas Baptist Encampment.  It is located on the Gulf coast between Houston and Corpus Christi. 

BYPU Oklahoma history

On June 26, 1896, the "Baptist Young People's Union of Oklahoma and Indian Territory" was organized, less than five years after the first Convention of the B. Y. P. U. of America was held. In 1901 E. E. Lee of Muskogee, who had come from Georgia not quite three years before, was elected president of the Territory B. Y. P. U. The 1903 General Convention adopted a report recommending that E, E. Lee of Muskogee be elected as B. Y. P. U. organizer for the Ter�ritory. This was a short time before the removal of Mr. Lee to Texas. E. E. Ford was the successful secretary from 1909 to 1911. In 1912 J. B. Rounds was elected and continued in that position until June, 1919, when he was elected assistant corresponding secretary. At the meeting of the Executive Board in March, 1918, the purchase of 160 acres at Falls Creek, selected by J. B. Rounds and W. D. Moorer for an encampment site, was authorized. The first assembly at Falls Creek had been held the preceding August.  The 1919 Annual report included this entry about Mr. Rounds:

Training our Young People for 'efficient church membership is being appreciated more and more. We are glad that yeai' after year under the leadership of Field Secretary J. B. Rounds, ably assisted by many pastors, missionarIes and other workers, the young people of this state have come to realize the great importance of their opportunities. During this year, all the obligations on the grounds of the Falls  Creek Baptist Assembly were met and your Board, for the Convention, accepted a deed in fee simple to 160 acres of land in the most picturesque and delightful spot to be found in this state for such an Assembly. 

 

Dr. Rounds was succeeded as B. Y. P. U. Secretary by B. F. Davidson who resigned in November, 1923, to enter the pastorate.

Interesting footnote is that Bob Lee, the BSU and BCM director for many yearst at the BGCO is related to Ernest Eugene Lee who is also related to General Robert E. Lee.

Ernest Eugene Lee, BYPU

Jami Smith sings at the old Tab

Vendome artisian well at Platt National Park.  This is the original installation.  Visitors would flock here from all over Oklahoma having travelled on old dirt roads until the train and HW 77 came in.  This is one reason BYPU campers held their annual 10-day retreat here.  These retreaters lead by E.E. Lee would later move to Falls Creek thanks to J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer..​

The great depression had occured and the dust bowl wiped out Oklahoma's agricultural economy.  So the New Deal came into being and FDR had every state propose public works projects for their towns.  The town of Sulphur submitted a plan in 1936 for the restoration of Vendome in Platt National Park.  It had pretty much dried up and cavitated.  It was not even running at the time.  In typical WPA style, the new construction utilized local and cut stone with considerable craftmanship.  Notice the difference between the old cement shrouded fountain to the upper right and this one below with the new stone design.  This water feeds the Indian falls area.  It it was built to last with stainless steel well casing at a deeper well depth.  It has spewed water going on 100 years.  Research on the water with chemical analysis on the atomic structure of the water molecules, hydrogen sulfide (egg smell), and the one percent brine content has determined this water was formed more than 40,000 years ago.

1936 WPA rebuilds the Vendome

Not sure how Bob Lee is related to E.E. Lee (left) but I do know they are related since Bob Lee is a descendant of General Robert. E. Lee and so is E.E.  That makes Bob Lee related to President George Washington as General Lee's mom was George Washington's granddaughter.  As mantioned, E.E. Lee started youth work in Oklahoma and that torch was carried on by Bob.  Bob even bought a nice home near Glorietta Conference Center so he could always be involved for college week.

Robert E. Lee

Bob is on the left

I'm working on a more recent photo of Bob.  I have scoured the internet and not much so far.

Bob's home at Glorieta, NM

Comment about General Lee as a college president: A typical account by a professor there states that "the students fairly worshipped him, and deeply dreaded his displeasure; yet so kind, affable, and gentle was he toward them that all loved to approach him... No student would have dared to violate General Lee's expressed wish or appeal; if he had done so, the students themselves would have driven him from the college." Elsewhere, the same professor recalls the following: To a recalcitrant student, who was contending for what he thought his rights as a man, I once heard General Lee say: "Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character," in those very words

Dr. Thomas B. Lackey

As executive director and treasurer of the BGCO for 20 years, Dr. Thomas Bert Lackey lead the transformation of the Baptist hosptial system, retirement centers, children's homes, and cottages.  He was also credited with changing Falls Creek from a single 10-day summer event to a five week program much like is operated today.  Getting to Falls Creek was originally such an order, you traveled a long time to get there and then hunkered down for the 10-day stay.  Then train service came to Doughtery and HW 77 was constructed through the Arbucles along with 77D by prison labor.  Then much later came I-35.  As transportation improved, a week session was adequate.

What is a Harry Dodd?

This was 1981 and Harry was a great camp director.  We would get done with Hudgens and then head right to Falls Creek by Sunday night.  We mainly ran the rec staff but some of us worked the front gate, safety patrol, pop and ice cream, and lifeguards.  We could stay in the Falls Creek Staff house near the stands or in a church cabin.  I stayed with Nicoma Park FBC and Trinity Baptist OKC.  The food was definitelty great if you stayed at a church cabin.  You didn't want to miss supper when Harry cooked some steaks for us on a Thursday night.  We would try to fill up on the food and then get snacks at the FC store. But at night, we would sometimes park one of the staffer's cars outside of ballfield #3, which is now the main entrance, and then send someone out after dark-40 to get pizzas.  My first summer working at Falls Creek was 1981.  Wow, that  staff badge was nice.  I mean it could get you anywhere.  You could go to the devil's bathtub after or before its hours.  You had free run of the park with a FC badge.  There were mandatory staff meetings where they kep attendance.  Harry would sometimes sing, a tradition carried on by Gary Fielding later on in his years.  Harry was a funny character and was always fair to work with.  He just wanted a good operation and did everything to make sure it happened.

As a treat to campers, staff and guests eating in the Falls Creek cafeteria, Harry Dodd, conference center manager, stages "surprise steak day" a couple of times each summer. Dodd dons an apron and "slaves over an outdoor cooker to prepare the 125 steaks

This link above will take you to a 1982 story in the Daily Oklahoman about the best of times at Falls Creek for my age group.  Fresh out of high school and working at Falls Creek was a very high honor.  We still had many of the BGCO greats on hand who were movers and shakers well before the reorganization.  Life there was much more simpler.  Ball field 1 was in the middle, #2 was up on the hill near the Eagle's Nest.  #3 was where the main enternace now is.  You had the grade based teaching pavillions that are all gone.  Decipleship training was high on the agenda back then.  The idea was that you teach kids how to evangelize, you send them home to lead their friend groups to the Lord.  The emphasis changed in the 90's and now the emphasis is on bringing lost to camp, and save them.  So its kind of a reverse great commission, bring them therefore to this nation....

Dr. William G. Tanner Prayer Garden

Falls Creek Lake.  Its being dredged for silt removal.  It is about three times as big as it was when in a natural state.  There is a small stream running through from the water flow from devils bathtub.  This is  the dry season.

Gauging from the clothes and the haircuts, I would say this is a 1950's era photo.  You can see the openings in the choir loft that were later replaced with exhaust fans.  Also notice the microphone from radio station KBYE.  I happened into the location of the KBYE tower.  It was located where Remington Park is now just north of Science Museum Oklahoma. Photo below.

Boulder Springs at the upper devil's bathtub area of Falls Creek.

KBYE @ FC

The station's previous callsign was KBYE, established in 1945. It was one of OKC's first black formatted stations for many years. The tower, before moving to Britton Rd. and Eastern was located on the same property as Remington Park at approx. 55th and N. Eastern. The studio was located at 9th and Broadway downtown, where the Murrah Bombing site is now. Ownership for many years was by the Lynch brothers. Under Tyler ownership, the station was then known as KKNG beginning 1999-09-17. On 2000-08-30, the station changed its call sign to the current KTLR.

This is how we got across the dam and to the devil's bathtub going on 80 years.   Then a flood hit and whiped out the walkway.  It also flooded out all the cabins below it and the water treament building.  I liked this walk better than the current one.

Falls Creek 1962 photo

Prime cabin spots looking at Eagles Nest.  Originally called by Young and Moorer as Buzzard Hill.  These cabins were saved in 2007.  The Trinity cabin, which is behind this view, was demolished for a lookout.

1982 aerial photo

Gary Fielding arrived to give Falls Creek a fresh new perspective, to move it into a new era, and to help usher on the transformation into a regional conference center.  Gary's introduction started on Monday night with the escort of the OHP.  He was in full Elvis sequin gear and rolled on the stage to announce a new era in Baptist camping in Oklahoma.  That momentum never slowed down and he is only semi-retired from BGCO camping work and not retired at all as he owns the Turner Falls zip line.

Hugo FBC cabin, 1930's.

Note: You have new leadership going into Falls Creek through time and I haven't met them so I don't post their photos.  James is now part of the Exec. team.

James Swain, Falls Creek Dir.

I first met James Swain when I visited his church in Kingfisher for an evaluation visit.  A secret shopper visit if you will.  They were just starting their building project for the family life center.  First Baptist Kingfisher reminded me of the church I attended as a kid, Trinity FBC.  Everybody knew everyone else and you just wanted to be a part of this group.  The young adult sunday school was in the gym and they were engaging and warm.  It made me want to attend here if Kingfisher wasn't so far from my home.  The service was rather different as it was mostly unstructured.  People felt comfortable and like it was more of a family meeting and not church service.  He was an excellent choice for camp leader.  James is now a team leader at BGCO.

You know James Lankford, former program director of Falls Creek.  He has been a friend since about 2000.  I would finish up Camp Hudgens and then Falls Creek was drawing down.  One summer, I helped move all the program equipment back to the Baptist Building at 4AM.  We were in several vehicles and Bill Green was in one himself.  I had the privledge of hearing of James' plans for congress early on.  Two years prior to his entering the Dist 5 race, I was helping out at a booth at the Texas Youth Ministry Lab at Souithwestern Theological Seminary when James said he wanted me and a friend to go to lunch.  At lunch he then asked, "What do you guys think of me running for the seat Mary Fallin is vacating?"  My answer to him was, "I cannot think of anyone better to send to Washington to represent to body of Christ and the citizens of this state.  People know James and that's a ready voting block.

 Do you remember the old asphault volleyball courts near ball diamond #1.  The stands are behind in the photo.  Then to the east of it was The OBU hut and Trinity Cabin.  You can also barely see the old staffhouse in the background on the upper left.  They closed Nunny and turned it into the staff complex.

Not a great definition of Falls Creek but more of a byproduct thereof.  I remember in the 80's people did pyramids for the church photos.  That was until a collapse cause a girl to get injured.  Today's fun is more safe yet there is still an element of risk but to the person and not persons.  This looks like a leader.  Back in the day, we had water ballon and shaving cream fights, panty raids, and practical jokes like gaak in the shower, the lost contact trick, and the invisible line trick.  All good fun as long as Harry or Gary were not close.

Crowning of the Chieftain and Princess from the 1940's.  This is on the old ball diamond #1 looking to hte northeast as you can see Buzzad Hill and the Eagle's Nest.  Those old cabins you see have long been replaced.  Falls Creek owns teepees and one of them is an authentic "Dances with Wolves" as featured in the movie.  I know this because they took the one we ordered for Camp Hudgens.  It came from the company that made them for the movie.  I described to them how to put it up.  They put it up as part of the missions education program.  That may have been the purpose for the ones you see in this post card but I'm not sure about that.  There was a lot of symbolic Indian icon use in the period.  It is tied to the "Indian princess" program ran by civic organizations.

There is a lot controversy about the program and the authenticity of them as most tribes would have not been involved in such things.  It was considered an Anglo thing.

Hugo FBC.  My guess is this photo is from the early 50's.  Compare it to a more contemporary photo on the right and it shows the transformation of the generations.

I always liked these cabins near the creek.  Then there were modern cabin of the days like Lawton FBC.  Then Ada came along with their $5M chalet.  Remember some of the really old cabins from the days after the tents.  I'm talking screened in huts.  All of them have been burned down.

BYPU meeting, 1920.

Another great memory of youth, for many long time Baptists.  This is Bachelor's Bridge.  The evening service was over and everybody headed to the icee and snack stands.  Young guys, 15 to 19 went to the bridge to catch a date walking by.  It usually worked.  You picked up a nice lady to walk around the camp, get an icee, and then return to her church cabin before evening devotion.  Young love at its best.  Leading in many instances to some live long relationships.

1917 tabernacle

2004 pre-construction map

Back in the day when the Hudgens staff would go to Falls Creek at the end of camp, the gate keeper was one position we would fill.  I never worked this position as I was first Pop and Ice cream, then rec staff, then lifeguard.  We liked having friends on the gate as they would let us out to go to Ardmore to get pizzas during the day.  Usually you had to get an exit pass from Charlie to leave as a staffer.  We also snuck a car out after the evening service and before the gate was closed and locked.  Then someone would pick up pizzas and return to ball diamond #3.  The next day they would move the car back into camp, all thanks to the gate operator being one of us.  One time, Harry Dodd came to Hudgens to be the camp pastor.  I told him what we did and he got a kick out of it.  He said we had a lot of honest fun but we got the job done.  He said people thought he was a stick in the mud but he was really just one of the regular folk.

Remember the era of the no-shorts rule?  I remember it up until the early 80's when water was scarce.  It began by allowing warm ups.  Then the next year water was even more scarce and they had to allow shorts on boys and girls.  Then the 6" rule came into effect.  A dollar bill was used to measure length between the knee caps and the bottoom of the shorts.  Any shorter, you got sent back to the cabin to change.  You couldn't even wear shorter shorts in your cabin if the safety patrol could see or showed up in the cabin.  One time in the Trinity Baptist OKC cabin, Chuck Bridwell had on shorts shorter than allowed and his wife had on a skirt that also broke the rules.  They got up each morning to play a round of tennis and one of the early shift safety patrolmen saw him and sent both back to the cabin to change.  That was ironic sending people from J.B Round's church back to the cabin he built.

Started as a single tent that held about 50 people to a structure that held 5000 bustling at the seams.  Had an airconditioned rehearsal area, a modest sound booth, and a wide stage.  A grand piano, an Allen organ with leslie speaker, a spotlight nest in the ceiling, ceiling fans, a modern sound enhancement system with zone speakers, 100,000 watts of sound, and plenty of wooden seating.  Visitors paid the single day gate fee of 50 cents to $12 to hear the likes of Johnny Bisanyo, W.A. Criswell, Hershal Hobbs, Bailey Smith, Charlie Taylor, Gene Garrison, Robert Scales, John Raley,  Wendel Estep, to name a few. You burned up in the summer and froze to death in the winter.  You had that "Falls Creek" feeling in this place that does not exist any more.  You carved or wrote your name on the back of the seat in front of you.  You do that now, you get ejected and your church gets the cleanup bills.

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You bet, that coveted seeat in the choir loft near the exhaust fans.  One of the few places you did not swelter from the 105 degree air.  But it had a price because you had to attend choir practice.  But even that was treat because under the loft is the choir room, one of the few air conditioned public spaces at Falls Creek during this era.  Look at the old Allen organ and the Leslie speaker nearby.  On the other side was the piano and there would be a smaller band in later years then the bannd would actualy be the main feature like it is today.  The days of the choir are gone as is the case with a lot of churches today.  The theory is that the entire assembled group is the choir.

Some really fond memories here.  To the >> right is ball diamond #1 as seen from the Eagles Nest.  You have the main sports stand and behind it is the rec staff hut.  You can also see the volleyball courts.

Below to the left is Bachelor's Bridge.  It has survived for the 80 or so years it has been in existence.  You can also see some kids fording the creek as the water level was low that day.  That creek was good for the occasional perch and a plethora of crawfish.

Now to the left below is the main lake area that greets you as you entered from the former front entrance.  Notice the teaching pavilions that went missing about 15 years ago when churches did their own discipleship training.  Before that, you got to meet kids from other cities in the age-based discipleship training.

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This is a great image of the lake back in the days when it was in a natural setting.  Its about 10 times bigger now and all of the vegetation is gone.  This was a great fishing lake at the time.  Now, there's not much fish in it as they drain it dry in the off season to drege it.  I remember the unique aquatic life that was in the lake with very rare species of water moss, kelp, and cattails.  All that is now gone.  You see the cabin at the top of the hill.  Rounds Corner is now where the cabin used to be.

Pretty much all you see has been demolished.

This is in the space once occupied by Trninty Baptist Church of Oklahoma City.  It was the Pastor J.B. Roound Cabin.  Technically, it did not have to be demolished as this kind of ampitheatre can be constructed on any hillside.  The cabin footing is on left.

Overall, the facility is nice form all the infastructure improvements.  It was nice to see Bachelor's Bridge still intact.  Oh how many times we walked across that bridge or just waited for a nice girl to walk by and catch our eye.  Then it was off to pop and ice cream and a walk through the camp.

This is a neat snack shack that sits above the Falls Creek Lake.  To the left of this is where you enter the water slides.  This is up in the southern side of camp.

Although due to serious environmental modification, the trout that J.B. Rounds and Rev. Moorer used to catch are mostly gone.  Then you have salamanders and other variety of aquatic life.  This is upstream from Bachelor's Bridge.

Silting work being done at Falls Creek Lake Oct. 2013.  They have increased the surface of the lake at least four times the size from when the dam was constructed.

Riperian Entertainments

Honey Creek going through Crosstimbers Camp in late July 2014.  The area was still in a drought at the time so flow was low.  As of May 2015, this area has flooded.

This must have been an original artists conception of the design of the dam and lake.  I can only remember it being like the photo below where  you went across on the bridge.  The current state of the lake is similar to this one if you remove the peninsula and make it go way back further toward the top right of the photo.  Rest assued that Baptist Lake is true gem that pleases the youth of today as much as it did way back.

You went across the dam in the photo on the left and you took the scenic trail to the Devil's Bathtub.  When you got to the other side of the dam bridge, you saw a running spring that also fed the creek.  There were pipes leading into the cave-like structure that went to the water treatment plant just below the dam.  I always wondered if that cave was large enough to epxlore with scuba gear.  This is because the Arbuckle Karst runs through the entire mountain range.

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There was a 5 cent deposit on pop bottles up to the late 80's.  It was a competition between me and the Tal Bohnam kids who could get the most.  Pay at that time was like $35/week so you had to do something with the cost of gas going up all the time.  When it went above $1/gallon that really hurt  for that kind of pay.

Notice in the top middle photo the folding chairs in the old tab.  I hadn't seen that before.  Maybe it was like that in the back.  I just remember the custom made pine benches they had.  I'm liking those old period bathing suits.  Falls Creek has come full circle as there is no longer a pool and they swim in that exact same spot.  The photo in middle bottom above brings back memories of Shane Spannagel's Phd thesis about the evangelism of Falls Creek.  One former camper reported he lost his virginity on one of the many un-official trails of Falls Creek.  I'm also liking that Eagle's nest photo from Buzzard Hill looking down on rec field #1 and the old stands.  A new monolithic stadium sits in that area now.  Eagles nest is still an outlawed favorite place to sit.

Getting ready to swim in the creek

The pool existed from the 50's until the mid 2000's.  It was torn out to make way for the west end of the new tabnapple.  Just north of it was the old Grandfield, Ok cabin.  They were given a pennies on the dollar settlement and did not rebuild due to costs of a new cabin.  This was like a large municipal pool.  It used the springwater from the collection system at the lake plant.  It was trouble keeping it full at times during periods of drought.  But it was a priority until the Tab project came along and swimming was moved to the creek as it was when it started.  This pool late in life had a serious problem.  It leaked pretty bad and cost a lot of water.  A new floor was poured to help reduce the loss.  Even then, it still leaked a lot.  You could see a small streaming leading from the apron on the south side to the draining culvert below.  Even if they wanted to keep it, it would have most likely required a very costly rebuild.  So the move to the creek was a good one for their situation.

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A continual popular spot is the traditional Devils Bathtub now with a new name.  You used to hike there from a bridge on the top of the dam.  Then you went through the woods for a few hundred yards and found this oasis.  Now what you do is avoid the dam and you the trail that starts on the upper section near Rounds Cafe.  You follow a newer trail on the south side of the creek.  Several springs feed the creek at various levels.  You can drink that water that comes out.  I wouldn't drink the creek water though.  This is also the reason Falls Creek floods in strong storms mainly due to the fact that the creek has a very large flood plain.  One time when I was on a youth retreat from Council Road Baptist church, we ran into a cat that had a litter of kittens.  We found a box at the comissary and put a towel in it.  The cat let us load her and the kittens in the box and we took her back.  The youth director was not happy at all we did that but we made sure the kittens were eventually adopoted out and the cat was given a home with some members in the church.  It was the true Falls Creek cat.

Old Nunny Cha Ha.

   Automatic dee feeder near Cabin 5             The old office and staff lounge                     Sad old pool minus the happy face

Deer hunting stand near Cabin 5.  Could also be to rein in the unruly Falls Creek staff.  Guys sneaking out to the girl's cabin or vice versa.  The deer feeder above could in fact actually vend M&M's. 

This is an interesting marker for a horse  grave I found on the other side of the Washita near the former town of Price.  Its for a horse named Stanway.  It marked the heydays of the Healey Flying L Ranch.

Nunny Cha Ha, high hill in Choctaw dialect, is named for the church in Pittsburg County that is a mission church to the native peoples of Southeast Oklahoma.  It is only about 15 miles from Camp Hudgens and predates it by several years.  My experience with Nunny Cha started when my mom took GA's to summer camp.  I remember picking up the group and we got there early enough to see the turtle races.  A girl would catch a turtle and paint a number on it.  It was a bit like the terrapin races in Krebs minus the intense gambling.  One time we stopped at Sulphur Springs to swim and mom left before I was out of the bath house.  She finally returned after dropping off the GA's from Trinity B.C.  I returned to Nunny on several occasions when Hudgens had  the lifeguard, first aid, and CPR training there on a rotation.  When the lifeguard training was onging all the Hudgens staff that did not participate helped get their camp ready.  I painted a cabin or helped set up the crafts center.  The girls reciprocated when they came to Hudgens.  The camp is now used mostly for Falls Creek staff as with all the new activities  they have, it takes a lot more staff than when I worked there.

The original master plan of Camp Nunny Cha Ha

Back in the 50's and 60's, things never seemed to go as planned.  Trinity Baptist Church planned to build a mini crystal cathedral that never panned out.  So on the left is the original plan for Nunny Cha Ha.  If they used the same camp architect as for Hudgens (later), it was based in Chicago.  Look at the pool and the buildings with the external butresses.  The cabins were surely much nicer than the cinderblock buildings of today.  But they have lasted through the years minus some mold.  I don't think that site is the current site either.  The current site of Nunny was actually off the Falls Creek property for many years until the late 90's when the Baptists had to bid on it for clear title.  They built part of Nunny off of their deeded property.

The Nunny cabins were quite basic.  Built of cement blocks which came into being at the time they were built.  Billed as the modern building material of the age.  They have been painted over many times since this photo was taken.  It was one of the jobs of the summer counselors to paint the cabin during staff training.  Nunny operated differently than Hudgens because they would assign a counselor to the cabin for the summer.  Hudgens never did this as each week your assignment changed to the needs of that week. 

In memory, Moses Fitchpatrick

A camper missing from the Falls Creek church camp was found dead Friday night.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the body of Moses Fitchpatrick was found shortly after 7 p.m., two miles south of the camp property.  August 2010

Through the many years of camping and working at Falls Creek, I had hiked the entire property from corner to corner.  I had seen much of the land around the camp.  I taught orienteering and it was easy to get lost.  This is wilderness explored by Spanish Conquistadors looking for gold and robbers going back before the Fort Arbuckle days.  Its rough out there.

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