We decided to camp near Sand Springs, OK because it was the right distance from our last stop in Branson. We found a Corps of Engineers campground on-line called Washington Irving South that seemed like a nice site to relax, do some kayaking and possibly some hiking. When we arrived we discover that the campground was tight! Low branches, tight turns, and trees close to the inside of those tight turns made it a challenge to get into our site. However, it was worth it. We had a unobstructed, beautiful view of Keystone Lake from our front yard.
Our first day was a nice relaxing day. We did our exercise walks in the morning and I relaxed with a book and coffee looking over the lake. After lunch I did take some time to give the trailer a good wash job. There were plenty of bugs to clean off the front cap!
The first few days were very windy so when we finally had a calm day we took advantage of it to go kayaking. It was nice to be able to launch and land our kayaks from the shoreline in front of our campsite. The shore of Keystone Lake had sandstone and shale cliffs that made it an interesting sight. We could see evidence of much higher lake levels, piles of fallen trees trunks and branches along the high water mark. We played “tag” with a blue heron that would take off whenever we got close, but would land a couple hundred feet in front of us.
We heard of a local festival, “Chillin’ and Grillin’,” in nearby Sand Springs. We drove in to find a huge gathering featuring commercial and individual grillers and smokers. The entrants were evaluated by a panel of selected judges and by the public. As we entered the area we purchased a “lunch kit” for $10 each. This included a frisbee as a plate holder, two paper plates, plastic utensils, and a ticket. The ticket was to be placed in the can at the booth that we thought had the best food for the public judging. What a great way to have lunch! We were offered pulled pork, pork loin, sausage, BBQ pork and chicken, and there was even a booth for shaved ice! We just wandered from booth to booth sampling the offerings. Of course we had to go back for seconds in some cases to re-evaluate our choices.
Charles Page had never forgotten how his mother had struggled in poverty to keep her family together after her husband died. There were few resources in the 19th and early 20th century to help either widows or orphans. He knew first-hand how fatherless children often had to forgo a school education to help support themselves or their families by working full-time in menial jobs. Now that Page had begun to prosper, he thought about how he could help others caught in the same situation. He created a planned community where widows and orphans could live and become productive members of society.
In 1908, he purchased a quarter section of land to the west of Tulsa and later, other adjoining properties. On this land, he founded a town that he named Sand Springs. In 1909, Page rescued 21 orphans from a bankrupt orphanage in Tulsa and legally adopted them. He referred to the orphans as his “kids” and they referred to him as “Daddy.” He used part of his land for the Sand Springs Home to house them. Page formed a close relationship with Tulsa Salvation Army Captain, Brinton F. Breeding, and convinced him to be in charge of the Sand Springs Home.
In 1912, Page began the construction of a widows colony for widowed and divorced women with children to support. The colony originally consisted of forty three-room shotgun houses that were eventually replaced with new two-bedroom brick cottages. The colony grounds came complete with a chapel and a nursery. Each house was provided with free water, free gas, free electricity, free rent, and a quart of milk per child per day. In order for a woman and her family to live in the colony, she had to have at least one child still in school, including college, her children had to maintain a “C” average in school and they had to observe all the colony rules of behavior. The Sand Springs Home for Widows and Children still exists today.
Page used his keen business instincts to facilitate every resource available. In his drilling operation, he found an abundance of natural gas, and there was more than enough pure spring water available. After constructing an electric light and power plant, owned by the Sand Springs Home for Widows and Children, he began offering free building sites to industries, with the added inducement of cheap gas, water and electric rates. Sand Springs quickly became a major industrial and manufacturing town. Some of the earliest industries were the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company; Commander Mills; Southwest Box Company; Sinclair Prairie Refineries; U.S. Zinc Company; and Pedrick Laboratories. In 1927, Sand Springs was known as the leading industrial city in Oklahoma. Page also donated the land for most of the original churches.
The story of Charles Page and Sand Springs is a true testimony to a great philanthropist.
After another relaxing day, we left Sand Springs on Monday, April 11th we began our drive to Dodge City, KS. Look out Marshall Dillon, here we come!