MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 3, 2014

Celebration planned for Lake Eufaula’s half-century

EUFAULA — Communities surrounding Lake Eufaula are being asked to help mark the Gentle Giant’s 50th anniversary.

“A committee is working on a celebration set for Sept. 25,” said Connie Morris, executive director of the Lake Eufaula Association.

The September celebration marks the date the Lake Eufaula Dam was dedicated in 1964 and will be held at the dam site, southwest of Porum. Congressman J.C. Watts, a Eufaula native and University of Oklahoma football star, has committed to speak at the celebration, Morris said.

The Lake Eufaula Association is working with area communities and tribal organizations to help plan the celebration, she said. Towns of Eufaula, Checotah, Stigler and McAlester and representatives of the Creek Nation already have expressed an interest, she said.

Eufaula Middle School students are putting together a history of the lake area. Principal Chris Whelan said it has been a yearlong project, which included interviews and photographs.

“We’ll have an interactive timeline from 1946 to 1964, when the dam was dedicated,” Whelan said, adding that he hopes to have the project done this year.

Lake Eufaula Dam was authorized by the 1946 River and Harbor Act to help with flood control, water supply hydroelectric power and navigation, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website. Dam construction began in December 1956 on the Canadian River, about 12 miles east of Eufaula.

Eufaula residents originally did not want the lake, said Emily Rodebush, member services director of the Lake Eufaula Association.

“They felt it took a lot of good farm land,” Rodebush said.

Checotah, to the north, was interested, however.

Dr. Charles Mitchell, a Checotah physician, was president of the Eufaula Lake Development Association, Morris said.

“He lobbied members of Congress and raised money,” Morris said.

Lake Eufaula now is considered Oklahoma’s largest lake, with 600 miles of shoreline and 102,000 surface acres, according to the Eufaula Chamber of Commerce Website.

The Lake Eufaula Association also is raising money for granite monuments marking the 1964 dedication and the area history. Morris said the monuments cost about $10,000.

The first fundraiser for the monuments will be a Hog Drop during Whole Hawg Days, July 24-26 in Eufaula, Morris said. Tickets will be sold for squares and a hog will “mark” the winning squares, she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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