Interview of Carl D. Riggs
by Professor Horace Bliss
February 1, 1981
Horace Bliss: You mentioned the two months of summer session--what about the rest of the year, what happens down there?
Carl D. Riggs: Well, there is a great deal of research that goes on at the Biological Station on a year round basis. We do have resident biologists there now who not only work there with their own research programs, but help students from OU, from OSU, form other universities in Texas and Oklahoma or even other parts of the country, who come there and do work. In addition to this sort of research effort, there are a number of classes from OU and surrounding universities that will take trips to the Station in the winter through the week or over a week-end and live and work there. We have university functions down there, meetings of various sorts. We have the "school-out-of-doors" which I think you have been a part of in the past, which involved students from the OU Lab School and Biological Station staff who helped to instruct them. We've had for many, many years 4-H clubs having meetings in the spring before the summer session begins and in the late summer and fall after the summer session is over. All of those 4-H sessions involved instruction by Biological Station faculty and students. It has also been the site of a number of national or regional or state-wide meetings because it is conveniently located between Oklahoma and Texas, because there is adequate housing there for a meeting of reasonable size and if you have to go beyond that there is housing in the nearby communities that can be used.
Horace Bliss: You mentioned there was some archaeological work that was done in the region, what can you tell me about that?
Carl D. Riggs: Well, one of the fun things that Jim Mayfield and his wife and my wife and I use to do on week-ends when we'd go down to the Station for various and sundry purposes was to hunt arrow-heads. The lake level fluctuates and there is persistent wind action so the shore line would be eroded away and heavier material would be left behind and in the spring particularly when the lake would begin to recede you could often find many, many arrow-heads. We found over a hundred in two or three times of careful hunting, and that came to the attention of Bob Bell of the OU's anthropology department and also I mentioned that Curley Everett had mentioned some Indian burial grounds. I mentioned this to Dr. Bell and for two summers they brought field crews to the Station for the full summer session for credit and excavated these Indian sites, including burial grounds and uncovered a lot of very valuable data including about a dozen skeletons, found a lot of pottery, a lot of implements and evidences of campsites, etc.
Horace Bliss: Have you had any bad weather problems?
Carl D. Riggs: Well, we had several kinds of bad weather problems. I mentioned the long drought which had quite an effect on the fauna and flora of the region and also lowered the lake level considerably. That was followed by the heaviest ran fall in which the lake came from its lowest level of below 590 feet above sea level to above 623 feet above sea level--now that's some thirty vertical feet of lake fluctuation in less than a month's time. And you can imagine what a profound change that had on the plans and animals in the area of the lake shore that were inundated by all of that water. In addition, the Biological Station was hit on two occasions by tornados. One time was right in the path of the tornado and the U.S.F. official weather station the barometer was not demolished although it almost was but the needle before the little house fell apart went clear off of the belt. ______ tornado tore the roof off of the men's side of the main building, demolished a number of the temporary housing units that we had there, for which I was grateful this time to get rid of them, and did quite a bit of damage in the region. Of course we had a number of storms during the summer which added to some of the interest in biological studies to see the effects of these storms on the fauna and flora of the region. No one was ever injured by virtue of the bad weather except for the occasional mash thumbed while trying to get out of the boat when it was pitching in against the side of a rock or against the boat house.