Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lawton, Oklahoma - Elliot's new home

As he told us in last Monday's email, Elliot was transferred on Wednesday to Lawton, Oklahoma. Goodbye to Moore, goodbye to Oklahoma City, goodbye to the Sorensons, the Lusks, and the Taylors. Let's see what we can learn about his new area.

First, a little history and some basic details about Lawton. Lawton was founded on August 6, 1901, on a section of prairie south of Fort Sill, a military post established in 1869. Land in Lawton was divided up in the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Land Lottery of 1901. Winners of the lottery were able to choose plots in the order their names were drawn. A young woman named Mattie Beal had her name drawn second, and the home she built has been completely restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lawton is named for Major-General Henry Ware Lawton. Born in Indiana, Henry Lawton fought in the Civil War and later in several campaigns against Native Americans. He is best known for capturing Geronimo in 1886. He was killed in battle in the Philippines in 1899. Lawton had also served as a quartermaster at Fort Sill, which explains how the city came to be named after him.

Lawton is located in southwest Oklahoma, about 90 miles from Oklahoma City. With 90,000 residents, it's the third largest city in Oklahoma. The city's official website is here.

Enough of the details. Let's see what else we can learn about Lawton.

There's a couple of cool museums. There's the Museum of the Great Plains, with lots of great displays and exhibits, including the Blue Beaver Schoolhouse, the Elgin Train Depot, and the Frisco Steam Locomotive. And there's also the Ft. Sill Museum, where you can learn all about the history of Fort Sill. I'd really like to visit the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, which is an entity of the Comanche Nation that offers a glimpse into Comanche heritage and culture.

Outside of Lawton you can find the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, which provides habitat for large native grazing animals such as American bison, Rocky Mountain elk, and white-tailed deer. Texas longhorn cattle also share the Refuge rangelands as a cultural and historical legacy species. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.

Lawton is the home of the Cameron University Aggies,  the largest four-year higher education institution in southwest Oklahoma. The first classes were conducted in the basement of a bank in 1909. Now, Cameron now has 6,000 students and offers more than 50 degree programs. It is named for Evan Dhu Cameron, Oklahoma's first State Superintendent of Schools.

Let's see, what else? Lawton has a community theater, now in its 60th season. Upcoming features include a pair of one-act comedies, The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy. There are lots of lakes and parks in and around Lawton, including Elmer Thomas Park (home of Lake Helen), North Mountain Wilderness Area, Mountain Park Wildlife Area, and Tom Steed Reservoir.

And Elliot will not go hungry in Lawton, home to lots of places to eat. I've never been to Lawton so I can't vouch for any of these places, but there's a few that look interesting. Possibly the best-named place is Pizza Emergency, home of the "biohazard" pizza and the 28-inch "gut buster." Then there's the Dry Beaver Supper Club, which, thankfully, does not appear to feature any beaver delicacies. It does, however, offer "gator tail" as an appetizer, hot links, and sauces ranging from mild to "light you up." I have a guess as to which one Elliot would pick, although it looks like he may have to wait a while since the website says the restaurant is temporarily closed due to highway construction. Finally, Elliot should try The Catch, a Lawton fishhouse featuring catfish, okra, and blackberry cobbler.

Well, there's a few highlights about Lawton. Looks like a fun place for Elliot for the next few weeks. You can stay current on the latest Lawton stuff by following its Facebook page and its Twitter account, @Lawton_Oklahoma.

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