Sunday, June 9, 2024

A Dam, Choctaw & Chickasaw

 Burns Run West (COE) Campground; Denison, Oklahoma about an hour or so north of Dallas, Texas

Another nice Corps of Engineers Campground that attracts a lot of people from Dallas, Texas which is located within an easy drive. There are a little over 100 campsites in this campground and it is only one of others on this lake. Combined with the giant Choctaw Indian Casino in Durant about 20 minutes north, it was a busy weekend. It appeared that every campsite was occupied but as of late Sunday, it is down to about 20%. 

Typical open field in rural Oklahoma

Home for three days. It may look shady, but the afternoon sun found a hole in the trees for a few hours in the afternoon.

The campground is on the banks of Lake Texoma which is the 12th largest COE lake in the country. The dam was built in 1944 on the Red River with the Washita River being a major tributary. The dam itself is unique in that it is the first "rolled earthfill" dam in the world. That means it was built in lifts of soil about one foot thick and rolled with heavy machinery. The vast majority of earthfill dams and roadways have been built that way every since. The dam is also a hydro-electric dam with two large external surge tanks. Some hydro dams don't have such highly noticeable surge tanks. I believe these two are also "topless" (open to the air on top). The 30,000 acres that was to be impacted by the lake was cleared by about 200 German POW's from World War II. They cleared it all with the use of axes and saws (no heavy machinery). That's a lot of information crammed into one paragraph,,,,,whew.

This is the back side of the dam. That's the powerhouse on the left with the two large surge tanks. The tanks can be "topless" because physically, the lake water level can never be higher than the top of the tanks. 

I even found a nice "thinking bench" although the grass needs trimmed. 

I had two items to explore in this area, not including the dam/lake. The first being the Fort Washita National Site. Like Fort Towson in my last post, Fort Washita was built on what was then the International Boundary and on the edge of the frontier. One of it's main purposes was to protect the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians from the Plains Indians and White settlers. This fort has much more of the original building foundations than Towson. It is currently being managed by the Chickasaw Nation and the two curators/historians I met were very friendly and knowledgeable. It was a nice stop. I won't rate the museum like I usually do because it was a very small and is not a major part of the site.

The entrance. The grounds were very well kept and is impressive due to the large size of the place.

One of the interesting things was a memorial cemetery to 200 unknown Confederate soldiers that died during the Civil War. Notice the correct Confederate flag is flying, not the "stars and bars". One grave to represent 200 unknowns.

The second exploration was the Choctaw Cultural Center located in Durant. It is very modern and very large. Everything you could possible want to know about the Choctaw Nation can be found in this location. I wandered around learning different things for a couple of hours and could have stayed a couple more except I was getting overloaded with information. If you decide to go to this place, be prepared to spend the whole day. I had seen online that they have a cafe inside that makes some Native foods but I had forgotten and ate before I arrived. Everything smelled really good though. Great information. Museum rating, 8 1/2 out of 10.

Very modern and big.

It was hard getting pictures inside or it's possible that I forgot because I was trying to absorb all the information. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed about 100 miles north looking for some cooler weather. Today's high here was 96 with a heat index of 103. But the forecast shows temps in the mid to low 80's where I'm headed to next. There is still strange weather going on. There is a storm about to hit the campground in a few minutes and according to radar, it's coming out of the north instead of the west as they usually do this time of year. Oh well, Liberty is mostly watertight, so let it rain, just keep the tornadoes away from me. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.    


  1. Just caught up....missed your departure. Enjoying the trip and narrative. Give me idea's for a future sojourn. Thanks