Southwest Oklahoma is proud that Medicine Park has recently been named one of the most beautiful towns in America. The town was selected fifth from a list of 30 of our country's most beautiful towns by the travel site Expedia.
Medicine Park is nestled at the entrance to the beautiful Wichita Mountains, just north of Lawton and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This charming "Cobblestone Community" is filled with quaint cottages built using the unique granite cobblestones found in the area.
Expedia selected Medicine Park because of the "charming downtown oozing with character, sparkling waves under the glow of a sunset and wide-open ranges void of human handprints." The town was also chosen for "endearing architecture and preserved nature trails to serene coastlines and mountaintop views."
While in Medicine Park, plunge into the swimming hole at stunning Bath Lake, stroll the town and visit the charming shops and restaurants, or search for American bison roaming the grassy prairie in the neighboring Wichita Mountains.
Medicine Creek, the heart of the Medicine Park, has served indigenous peoples for thousands of years. They believed the waters provided life and healing powers. With the founding of Fort Sill to the southeast in 1869, the rapidly growing population looked for a place to escape the heat of summer. Vacation tents covered the edges of the creek, and on July 4, 1908, Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas founded the town, which became the state's first planned tourism resort. He and his partner, Hal Lloyd, purchased 900 acres – what is now the community of Medicine Park. The swimming hole, now Bath Lake, served as the center of town. Tourists flocked to enjoy the mountains, wildlife, swimming, great food and lodging. The resort flourished from the late teens to the 1930s as the "Jewel of the Southwest."
Part of the charming atmosphere of Medicine Park is created by the unique building style and materials used. Granite cobblestones, found locally, made excellent building material for the cottages, walls and shops in Medicine Park. Approximately 250 million years ago, erosion produced gravel deposits of these round granite boulders or cobblestones that are 6 to 18 inches in diameter. It is illegal to remove cobblestones from Medicine Park or the wildlife refuge. A fine of $500 is the punishment for doing so.
The nearby Wichita Mountains and the new Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people on weekends and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park became a playground for the State's rich and famous – and the notorious. The town's history includes outlaws and horse thieves, as well as Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips, Bo Wills, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin, Colonel Jack Abernathy, Les Brown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and countless other visitors who contributed to the colorful flavor of Medicine Park.
The resort community thrived until the Great Depression and the advent of World War II. Then the town struggled economically for many years. With incorporation in 1969, and beginning in 1990 with an infusion of new property developers and businesses, the town began a turnaround. Medicine Park began a pattern of growth and has continued its revitalization efforts into the 21st century. Fortunately, developers maintained the charming historical elements of Medicine Park, and new structures blend seamlessly into the community.
Visitors enjoy weekday and weekend stays in more than 20 renovated cabins, a bed and breakfast and a new 20-room hotel. The Old Plantation Restaurant, a national historic landmark, has been renovated while still capturing the flavor of the Old West.
And a rhythm runs through the town. Five music festivals each year run the gambit from bluegrass and Native American flute to Red Dirt, rock and roll, and the blues. New retail shops, two art galleries, restaurants, a bakery, and the swimming hole at Bath Lake draw thousands of visitors. Just minutes from the 60,000-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the number one refuge in the country, hikers, birders, photographers and other visitors throng to Medicine Park to enjoy hours of natural splendor.
Check out the events, lodging, shops and other sites on MedicinePark.com for even more information.
Sources: MedicinePark.com, Lawton Constitution, Expedia