Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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LAKE EUFAULA

On September 25, 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson traveled to Oklahoma to dedicate the Lake Eufaula dam, which created Oklahoma's largest-capacity lake (3,798,000 acre-feet at the top of the gates), nicknamed the "gentle giant." In 1946 Congress had approved the Lake Eufaula project on the Canadian River for flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power, navigation, and recreation. Located mainly in McIntosh and Pittsburg counties, with small portions in Haskell and Okmulgee counties, the lake has six hundred miles of shoreline and 102,200 surface acres. The dam, constructed under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1956 to 1964, had an initial cost of $121,262,000. The lake's maximum depth is eighty-seven feet, and the mean depth is about twenty-three feet. Within a drainage area of 47,522 square miles, major sources are the waters of the Canadian, North Canadian, and Deep Fork rivers. The dam is capable of generating ninety thousand kilowatts of power.

Stocked with a variety of fish, including crappie, bass, catfish, and walleye, from its inception Eufaula has been a popular destination for sportsmen. Golfing, hunting, hiking, boating, water- skiing, camping, and swimming are among the many activities that attract tourists to the area. Adjacent to the lake the state placed two state parks, Arrowhead and Fountainhead, and provided large-scale recreational facilities. Both originally had a state-operated lodge. Oklahoma borrowed $8 million dollars from the federal government to build these resorts, which failed to make a profit. When the state did not pay the debt, in 1986 the U.S. Economic Administration sold Arrowhead Lodge to the Choctaw Nation and Fountainhead Lodge to a group of private investors. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Arrowhead Lodge served as a Narconon treatment center, and a private company continued operation of Fountainhead resort. The state retained the state parks. The lake also has numerous private campgrounds and twenty U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed recreation areas. The nearby by towns of Eufaula, Krebs, Checotah, Canadian, and McAlester benefit from an estimated two million lake visitors, who each year spend around $32 million dollars.

SEE ALSO: CAMPING, ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURAL ECOLOGY, FISHING, LAKES AND RESERVOIRS, RIVERS AND CREEKS, WATER COMPACTS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 26 September 1964. Lake Eufaula: Oklahoma's Gentle Giant (Eufaula, Okla.: Lake Eufaula Association and Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, 1988). "Lake Eufaula," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma's Water Atlas (Norman: Oklahoma Water Resources Board, 1984).

Larry O'Dell

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