Lake Murray (Oklahoma)

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Lake Murray
Location Carter / Love counties, Oklahoma, US
Coordinates 34°02′59″N 97°04′20″W / 34.0496°N 097.0721°W / 34.0496; -097.0721Coordinates: 34°02′59″N 97°04′20″W / 34.0496°N 097.0721°W / 34.0496; -097.0721
Lake type Reservoir
Primary inflows Anadarche Creek, Fourche Maline Creek
Primary outflows Fourche Maline Creek
Basin countries United States
Surface area 5,728 acres (2,318 ha)
Water volume 153,520 acre-ft
Shore length1 67 miles (108 km)
Settlements Ardmore, Oklahoma
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
Graphic map of Lake Murray & Lake Murray State Park.

Lake Murray is a 5,700-acre (23 km2) lake in south central Oklahoma, near Ardmore named for Oklahoma Governor William H. Murray.[1] It was created by damming Anadarche and Fourche Maline Creeks.[2] The lake is wholly within Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma's largest state park, containing over 12,500 acres (51 km²) of relative wilderness. A state-operated lodge and resort is located on the west shore that serves many visitors to the lake, and serves as a base for numerous cabin and campground facilities near the lake.[3]

Lake Murray State Park[edit]

Lake Murray State Park is Oklahoma's oldest and largest state park. The state legislature bought the property for the park for about $90,000 on April 10, 1933.[2]

Workers in two Emergency Works Act programs established during the height of the Depression by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), converged on what had formerly been Chickasaw Nation property in 1933, to begin construction on Lake Murray State Park. It was the first state park built in Oklahoma and is still the largest. At the same time, workers began construction on the castle-looking building later to be called Tucker Tower. During construction, almost 17,000 men worked on the park project for $1.25 a day in wages.

The lake was completed in 1937 and opened to the public in 1938. But work on the tower ceased in 1935, reportedly because federal officials decided the project was taking too long to complete and costing too much. And so without windows, doors, floors, or ceilings, the tower was left open to the public and elements. It had been built based on photographs of a European castle taken during World War I by veteran Sen. Fred Tucker, a local legislator for whom the tower is named.

Fishing, boating and all water sports are found at Lake Murray. Lake Murray Lodge offers guest rooms and suites, cabins, meeting space, The Apple Bin restaurant, and the Parlor. Other activities include boating, swimming, fishing, golfing, picnics, camping, horseback riding, hayrides, hiking, biking, rollerblading, miniature golf and paddle boating. Sports facilities include an 18-hole golf course with a pro shop, tennis courts, softball fields, baseball diamond, horseshoe pits, badminton and volleyball nets.

Lake Murray State Park offers an ATV area for 3/4 wheelers, motorcycles and dirt bikes. Other facilities found in the park include an airstrip, Boat Mechanic, marina with rentals, swimming pool with a changing house, swimming beach, riding stable, remote control air field for hobbyists, miniature golf course and Frisbee golf. Nine RV campgrounds with over 300 RV sites and unlimited tent sites are located throughout Lake Murray State Park with full hookups, restrooms and showers.[4]

Lake Murray State Park was the first Oklahoma state park listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

Tucker Tower[edit]

Tucker Tower, on the southern shore of Lake Murray

Tucker Tower Nature Center is not only a great place to visit, with its many interesting and educational displays and exhibits, it also has a history as colorful as the view from high atop the tower. Tucker's Tower sits on a steeply dipping outcrop named the Devil's Kitchen Conglomerate, of the Criner Hills Uplift, on the southern edge of the Ardmore Basin. This formation is significant because it supports the theories of geologists concerning the timeline of mountain building in this area.

It is said that under the water, beneath the tower, there lies a cave once inhabited by an early culture. Some say outlaws used the cave during the early settlement of the area!

Although there are conflicting stories, it is commonly believed the tower was originally planned as the summer retreat for then-Gov. William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, in return for his efforts to get the lake and state park situated in Southern Oklahoma. The lake also was named after Gov. Murray, who is recognized as one of Oklahoma's most colorful historical characters, as his name implies.

The tower remained unfinished until the state park service stepped in and completed the construction. From the first-floor patio, the tower reaches 65 feet into the air, allowing a breath-taking view that encompasses miles in all directions. The patio itself is about 60 feet above lake level. The tower features one roofed and two open patios, a tree-and flower -lined walkway from the parking lot (good walking shoes recommended), a lake lookout along the path, and shaded benches from which to watch the birds and wildlife. During the summer, a variety of programs are presented at 1 and 4 p.m. daily.

Tucker Tower opened in 1954 as a geological museum, featuring the granular hexahedrite meteorite found on the state park property in the 1930s. The meteorite remains on display in the tower, although the focus of the facility was changed to that of a nature center in 1981.1

Lake Murray's meteorite, the largest of its kind ever found and the fifth largest in the world, was cut in half at the Institute of Meteorites in New Mexico, allowing a rare glimpse into the inside of the 90 million-year-old object. It is just one of the many exhibits at Tucker Tower Nature Center. Other displays include the reconstructed skull and fossilized bones of a mastodon found along the Washita River about 35 miles away; a mind-boggling animal skull collection, and educational exhibits of fossils, Lake Murray history, insects, fish and wildlife, legends, and rock specimens.

Location[edit]

The lake can be reached via Interstate 35, Exit 24, then east two miles (3.2 km) on State Highway 77S. SH-77S completely encircles the lake and provides excellent access to all parts of the lake.

References[edit]

External links[edit]