Nestled in the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma, foothills of the Ozark Mountains, this body of water, known as "Oklahoma's Clear Water Wonderland," is surrounded with dogwood forests, hilly terrain, and beautiful foliage from spring until fall. It also serves as part of a flyway for migratory animals, such as Canada geese, ducks, monarch butterflies, warblers, and bald eagles.
Tenkiller crossing, where the dam is located, is named for a famous Cherokee family and was a main travel route across the Illinois River in frontier times. The Tenkiller Ferry project was authorized by Congress under the Flood Control Act of 1938. Installation of power features was authorized in the River and Harbor Act of 1946, and these features were designed and built by the Tulsa District, Army Corps of Engineers, at a cost of $23,687,000. The project was started in 1947, placed in flood control operation in July 1953, and power was placed online in December 1953.
The lake is well known for water-based activities, and its reputation is well deserved. The State of Oklahoma and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers manage ten marinas and fourteen parks with many different facilities around the lake. There are twenty-four boat launching ramps around the lake, three floating restaurants, and many islands to explore, the most famous being “Goat Island”, which is actually inhabited with goats that can sometimes be spotted grazing at the shoreline. Scuba diving, camping, hiking, fishing, golfing, water sports, scenic nature, fishing, and hunting are all surrounded with beautiful rock bluffs and days that end with spectacular sunsets.
Camping is also popular, with 14 campgrounds operated by the Corps, the State of Oklahoma, and concessionaires. Types of camping range from primitive to full hookup and are fairly evenly spread out from one end of the lake to the other. Hiking one of the three nature trails is another outdoor activity easily accessible from the lake. The trails vary in length from 1 1/4 miles to over 2 miles. Spectacular vistas, rock formations, and many species of wildlife are just a few of the things to take in as you hike along. Almost all project lands are open to public hunting except for parks and around the dam and control structures. Principal species hunted are whitetail deer, turkey, rabbit, and squirrel.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore represents a unique ecological history beginning with the retreat of the last great continental glacier approximately 14,000 years ago. The park currently consists of 15,000 acres spanning 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline representing four major successive stages of historic shorelines. Indiana Dunes is one of the most extensive geologic records of the largest complex of freshwater lakes in the world. In the late 1800s several scientific publications had been published featuring the entomology and botany of the Indiana Dunes and in 1916 the National Dunes Association was formed. Public approval for the formation of a National Park was at an all time high; however, the onset of World War I prevented this plan from becoming a reality until 1966.
The area of the park formerly known as the Great Marsh was formed over 4,000 years ago between the Tolleston dunes on the north and the Calumet dunes on the south. This area was an open body of water fed by a single watershed and emptying into Lake Michigan through Dunes Creek. Over time this body of water changed to include conifer swamp, wet prairie, fen, bog, sedge meadow, and marsh. Today, the remaining 205 acres of the Great Marsh stretch only twelve miles with an average width of one-half mile. These collections of wetlands, including Cowles Bog National Landmark, are now known as Cowles Bog Wetland Complex (CBWC).
The CBWC gained recognition in the early 1900s for its unique biodiversity and landscape. It would take Chicago residents a full day of travel to the north to see the same biological diversity they could find by travelling only ninety minutes east to the area then known as Mineral Springs Quaking Bog and Mineral Springs Tamarack Swamp. Its proximity to Chicago made it a highly visited and studied area. Henry Chandler Cowles published a paper in 1899 entitled, “Ecological Relations of the Vegetation on Sand Dunes of Lake Michigan.” For this seminal work, he was later recognized as one of the fathers of plant ecology. The area was first referenced as Cowles Bog in 1923 by Herman Kurz, a student of Henry Cowles at the University of Chicago.
The Webbers Falls area attracts many visitors during the early spring when the many flowering trees and shrubs such as redbud and dogwood are in bloom and again in the fall when the many hardwood trees are changing their colors. An observation platform and visitors facilities have been provided at Webbers Falls Lock and Dam so that visitors may watch the lockage of barges and pleasure craft. On a bluff above the powerhouse is a scenic overlook where visitors may view the lock and dam and a large area of the lake.
Sportspeople find recreation opportunities at Webbers Falls Lake year around. For the fisherman, the predominate species of fish in the lake are catfish, white bass, black bass, crappie, bream, walleye, sauger, buffalo, carp and a rapidly growing population of striped bass. Many have predicted that the striped bass will reach weights in excess of forty pounds in Oklahoma waters.
Opportunities are equally as good for the hunting enthusiast. Principal game species present at the project include whitetail deer, fox squirrel, gray squirrel, cottontail rabbit, swamp rabbit, raccoon, mink, opossum, bobwhite quail, mourning dove, and several species of waterfowl.
There are three recreation areas on the lake that offer many opportunities for water oriented activities. The facilities at these areas include designated campsites, picnic areas, boat launching ramps, drinking water, swimming beaches, and sanitary facilities.
SCA Trail Town Outreach Corps Mission: To foster economic revitalization and sustainable redevelopment in the Great Allegheny Passage Trail Towns through minds-on and hands-on community service.
SCA TTOC Goals:
• To be an integrated resource and asset to the Trail Town communities
• To communicate sustainable economic development opportunities
• To coordinate and increase reliance on local and regional economies
• To promote appreciate of rich cultural heritage of Southwest Pennsylvania
The SCA Trail Town Outreach Corps (TTOC) is an SCA Sustainability Corps composed of college graduates hailing from the southwest Pennsylvania region and from across the United States. This multi-year partnership blends the missions of the SCA and the Trail Town Program (a project of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and The Progress Fund), while engaging community members, businesses, non-profits, municipalities, and civic clubs in their local economies and communities.
Corps members spend 10 months of service spurring sustainable economic and community development in the Trail Towns along the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail. These towns, once quite prosperous during the peak of the coke, coal, and steel industries, are now in the process of economic recovery. SCA TTOC and our various partners see this internationally recognized trail as one source of sustainable re-development for the Trail Towns. The corps builds upon the region’s strong cultural heritage and regional recreational assets in pursuit of rural sustainability.
Each corps member is the point person for one or two Trail Towns. They attend meetings, sharing with each community our work and the work of the Trail Town Program. They then share town specific happenings with the rest of the region through our partner organizations and social media efforts. In addition, corps members take the lead on regional, local, ongoing, and short term projects. Due to the nature of our work, many projects require the entire team to participate, thus they take turns leading and being led.
Follow our progress in the Trail Towns this year to learn more about our corps and the innovative projects they work on.
Check us out on facebook!
TTOC - http://www.facebook.com/TrailTownOutreachCorps
Trail Town Program - http://www.facebook.com/TrailTownProgram
Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network - http://www.facebook.com/gapsbn
Project Lead: Sophie Louis
United States Army Corps of Engineers
(208) 608 6325