Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma State Park is still open to the public, but much of it has been sold to Pointe Vista, which demolished the outdated lodge seven years ago.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

It’s been 10 years since the state of Oklahoma sold hundreds of acres at Texoma State Park to a private developer that never fulfilled its promise to build an elaborate lakeside resort. Now the Chickasaw Nation is stepping in to bring some economic activity back to the area.


The crumbling remnants of Texoma State Park buildings that haven't been in use for years.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A decade after the government-owned Texoma Lodge and Resort was sold to a private company that never fulfilled its promise to develop a multi-million dollar resort on the former state park land, Gov. Mary Fallin and the Chickasaw Nation on Thursday announced the tribe’s plans to build a resort hotel and casino instead.

Sheldon Stauffer outside the Lighthouse Bait and Tackle shop in Kingston, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lake Texoma State Park was once one of Oklahoma’s most popular parks. Then much of it was sold to a private development firm that has yet to fulfill its promise to build a multi-million dollar resort. The matter was recently settled in court, but many local residents don’t like the results.

Not What It Used To Be

Lisa Davis (right) with the advocacy group Save Lake Texoma near the Rooster Creek Bridge at Lake Texoma State Park.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

At the end of August 2013, Lake Texoma was full of water. But drought, and decisions by state and federal officials have meant a drop in levels. That’s a big problem for Kingston, Okla, a community that depends on lake tourism for its local economy.

The Rooster Creek Bridge has been landmark at Lake Texoma State Park since 1940. Yellow paint covers the metal truss structure that spans the creek as it opens into Oklahoma’s second largest lake.

When the lake’s this low, you can walk right under the bridge, past dusty mussel shells, and out to piles of rock slabs set up as fish habitats. And they’re hard to see, but Bob Jackman says there are elephants in this lake, too.

James Rintamaki / Flickr

Determining exactly where the border between Oklahoma and Texas is along the Red River has been a touchy subject for more than a century.

And when it was discovered that one of the pumps that provides water to the North Texas Municipal Water District was actually it Oklahoma, it was shut down, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for negotiations.

Lake Texoma's Denison Dam.
Robert Nunnally / Flickr Creative Commons

Lake Texoma is really feeling the effects of the ongoing drought. Water levels have been dropping, many boat ramps lead to dirt, and some slips are grounded.

That reduces the number of people using the lake for recreation, and hurts the economy of a part of Oklahoma very much dependent on tourism.

The Italian Voice / Flickr Creative Commons

Lake Texoma’s level was about 609 feetlast week, down from 612 feet two months ago. The lake can only be used for hydropower until levels drop to 590 feet.

welcome to texas sign
Paul L. McCord, Jr. / Flickr Creative Commons

Exactly where the border between Oklahoma and Texas lies along the Red River has never been completely clear, especially where Lake Texoma covers the original river shore.