Oklahoma’s Forgotten Underwater City
It's been a few years since we've chatted about Lake Altus-Lugert - AKA - Lake Lugert to any other SWOK resident. It's a watering hole created to supplement crop irrigation during periods of drought, and the story of its creation is really interesting. I just recently came across the OETA short story on it, thought it was worth passing on to you.
Being a lake created between mountains, the water there is astonishingly clear. Tea-stained to a brown-ish color, but clear. This is no typical Oklahoma mud lake. Walking the banks looking for a place to cast a line, I remember the lake tales told to me when I was younger. While tall tales are fine, the internet of today can shed accurate information on the true story of this lake.
As the story goes, The town of Lugert was founded on that spot in the mountains in 1901. It was little more than a rural townsite that supplied the area farms with a place to experience city life featuring a general store, post office, and a handful of other businesses. In 1912, a tornado came through the area, destroyed most of the town, and that was pretty much the end of that town. Not to say people didn't still live and work there, they just didn't rebuild what had been destroyed.
Late in the 1920's, since SWOK is such a drought-stricken place so often, the City of Altus decided to damn up the North Fork of the Red River there in the mountains right along side Lugert. They built a dam and it served as a water source for the town, it was named Lake Altus. It wasn't until after WWII that Lugert was all but deserted, and a plan to build the dam higher looked like a reality, so they added fifty more vertical feet to the dam, and the lake swallowed up Lugert. Now, the larger abundance of water could not only provide for the population of people South in Altus, there was enough to sell farmers water to irrigate their crops. Mainly cotton as is still the case today. The new lake was dubbed Altus-Lugert, and you now have the history of an interesting locale to visit and enjoy in SWOK.
Not only do they offer camping and cabins along the lake, there are activity centers that kids and teens can enjoy... Mini golf, go carts, hiking, biking, etc... The Quartz Mountain Resort is further up the trail. It offers very upscale accommodations including a restaurant the locals rave about. While the coronavirus has disrupted life all over the country, the resort is a place that has managed to stay open this entire time, including the restaurant with limited hours.
I know, this is going on long, but I can't help but share the cool history of a place you've never been. If you get the chance, you should take a drive to it. It's roughly an hour-ish away from Lawton, and whether you haul the boat over there or not, it's worth spending the day or weekend. If you fish, take your tackle, the bite has been good even off the bank and docks. As the waters warm to spawning temperatures, the fish will be easy pickings.