Interview of Carl D. Riggs
by Professor Horace Bliss
February 1, 1981
Horace Bliss: There's more than that one main building there and you have a string of them, it looks like about seven or eight sizeable buildings there. How did that happen to grow?
Carl D. Riggs: Well, Horace, I mentioned that the first appropriation took care of building the main building and the second appropriation built a laboratory building, which contained three laboratories and a pump house--really was two pump houses, one pump house down by the lake that pumped water out of the lake into a filtration plant up at the top of the hill and we also built one additional dormitory, or apartment building, for faculty with that second appropriation which took the faculty out of the main building and left all of the housing units in that main building for students. It wasn't long however, until we outgrew this space but there were no State funds available. I went to the National Science Foundation on two occasions and got sizeable grants to build an additional laboratory building and a research building and an additional dormitory so that at the present time I believe there are three separate dorm buildings, three separate laboratory buildings, the research building, the original main building, the two pump houses and then from our own resources and from our own labor, we built that old ____galvanized iron barn that we keep the trucks and other equipment in. The most important additions that the National Science Foundation helped us to finance, was the Library Building which houses the library itself and significant study area for the students and faculty, and that's been, as I say, one of the most important additions that we could have ever added.
Horace Bliss: How do you manage to maintain all of those buildings with such limited custodial staff?
Carl D. Riggs: Well, during the time that I was Director and the time since Loren Hill has been Director, the Biological Station has received magnificent support from the Physical Plant personnel of the University of Oklahoma. From the very beginning, Walter Kraft, who is dead, the then Director of the Physical Plant made a number of individual trips to the Station--helped us lay out the plans for the original building and for the additions that followed. His successor, John Kuhlman, behaved in the same way. I remember well the support that we got from Dutch Hoover, one of the carpenter foremen; Jake Kaplin, painting foreman; Dale Houser the plumbing foreman, and believe me the Station could never have existed were it not for Jay Kelso, the electrical foreman who for many, many years would come to the Station, day or night, to trouble shoot in terms of the serious electrical problems that we frequently had. Remember that everything there depended upon electricity--our ice boxes, our water system--everything that we ran in the laboratories ran off of electricity and we had one REA line coming in there and that was subject to storm damage and would often go out and so we had an emergency generating plant which we would turn on and keep us going until the Physical Plant could get back down and do any inside of the grounds repairs that had to be be made. The REA would take care of the outside of ground repairs. But we were able to maintain the buildings with relatively small staff because we had good local help and mostly because we've had such superb support over the years from the Physical Plant personnel.