|ABOUT THE AREA - THE WICHITA MOUNTAINS
WILDLIFE REFUGE & MEDICINE PARK
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is the second most visited national
wildlife refuge in the United States hosting more than 2 million
annual visitors. Established in 1901 by United States
President Teddy Roosevelt, the Refuge is one of more than 530 refuges
throughout the United States managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Refuge contains more than 59,000 acres of pristine beauty and provides
habitat for large native grazing animals such as American Bison, Rocky
Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, and Texas longhorn cattle. More than 50
mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species
thrive on this important refuge.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge - wild, rugged,
and weathered - is a symbol of the old west standing at the threshold
of modern times. For centuries, this remarkable land was the province
of a nomadic hunters and food gatherers. Today, the Refuge serves all
Americans by keeping in public trust a portion of our nation's wildlife
|Through direct exposure to wildlife and wild lands, visitors
experience a personal re-creation and a renewed commitment to the
value of environmental stewardship. The natural attractions of the
Refuge are many and varied. In addition to viewing and photographing wildlife
in their natural setting, the lakes, streams, canyons, mountains, and
grasslands provide visitors with an ideal setting for permitted outdoor
Park was founded in 1908 by a young lawyer from Lawton named Elmer
Thomas and was the first planned resort town in Oklahoma. It
was developed to provide , accommodations, food, beverage and entertainment
for the throngs of people who visiting the newly founded National Forest
and Wildlife Refuge.
Medicine Park circa 1925 -- click any section to enlarge
The town's centerpiece is Medicine Creek and it's Bath
Lake, the Curtis Davis foot bridge and Gondola Lake. Cottages
and cabins constructed with exterior facades of round cannonball sized
granite cobblestones are the town's predominant architectural feature.
The stones are naturally occurring and found only in the Wichita Mountains
and are formed over a period of millions of years through the action
of "freeze, thaw and tumble."
In the 1920's and 30's - Medicine Park became the “playground”
of the state's rich, famous and notorious. Folks would come to town
for the weekend and leave their "work-a-day" troubles and reputations
behind them. Outlaws and horse thieves mixed with noted politicians
and businessmen, families and socialites in this new cobblestone community.
The Medicine Park "spirit" is a special blend
of the Native American belief in the healing powers of the waters
of Medicine Creek and the use of rounded cobblestones in almost all
early-day structures. This construction material is unique in Oklahoma,
and is rarely found anywhere else in the Country.
Medicine Park's resort economy thrived until the Great
Depression and the advent of World War II. The Medicine Park resort
was the scene of a wide variety of social and economic struggles (including
its incorporation as a Town in 1969), but in the mid 1990's a pattern
of declining investment began to slowly turn around. Small shops
began to open as creative entrepreneurs began re-discovering the resort
community. Other economic successes soon followed, giving the Town its
current pattern of growth.
Today, visitors find lots of re-newed activity,
restoration and construction of new homes. In addition there are numerous
small shops, galleries, restaurants, a tavern, a club for mixed drinks,
and much more.