Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kaw Lake, Day 3

It will not surprise those who know me, or regular readers of the blog, that some rather unusual things can latch onto my interest and attention. At Coon Creek Cove Campground, it was the restrooms. After doing the entry on May 26 about the EF-3 tornado that swept Canadian Campground at Canton Lake, I began to think a lot more about tornados in campgrounds. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere and a tornado is barreling down on you, where do you go? When the funnel went through Canton, six people ran into the shower stalls of the restrooms. The cinderblock walls collapsed, but all those inside survived. At the restrooms of Coon Creek, a Corps of Engineers camp, I found myself standing outside examining every square foot of the structure. The bottom was done in horizontal lapboard siding, and the top half was done in board and batten construction. The roof was covered in cedar shakes. That’s a bit different than the one shown here.

Then I knocked on the siding and realized everything was concrete, including the roof. It had all been molded in concrete to give it a natural appearance, but the thing was massive, and even attractive. When I looked inside, I saw the CXT Buildings, Hillsboro, TX, label over the door. I sought out a COE employee for more insight, and he said the buildings are reportedly supposed to withstand an EF-6 tornado or an earthquake. For you own peace of mind when camping or enjoying a picnic, you may wish to check out this site. http://cxtinc.com/
Tomorrow will be a paddle day.  Ibi takes a rest along the Eastern Shore of the lake.

Today was hot and windy, so since another day would prove unfit for paddling, I sought to learn more about the local history. The valley that is now Kaw Lake was the site of Kaw City and the Native American town of Washunga. In talking to a lady born and raised here, she gave me this account of how the lake came about. The federal government condemned the land in preparation for a project designed for flood control along the Arkansas River, especially for Tulsa. The residents were offered $3,000 per household and required to vacate their homes. They could have their homes moved to higher ground where the new Kaw City would be, or leave them to be bulldozed. When asked during the public hearing what would happen if they refused to leave, they were told, “Then you’ll be swimming.” Apparently the only building they were unable to move or destroy was a five-story hotel being used as a retirement home. Trying to implode it with explosives failed, as did trying to reduce it with a wrecking ball. Finally the Rt. 11 bridge was built over what remained, and it still sits at the bottom of Kaw Lake. The dam is 11,000 ft. long and rises 121 feet above the riverbed. It creates a 38-mile-long lake with 168 miles of shoreline. The lake was filled in 1976. Another interesting sidebar is that the river that feeds the lake is known to everyone as the Arkansas River, except for those living in Kansas, to whom it is the AR-Kansas River.

Another lady, a Choctaw, told how Indian women were not allowed to conduct any business, being considered incompetent. Regardless how much money or land they had, they were required to have a white sponsor before they could either buy or sell. When her grandfather died, he left her grandmother a large farm with a good bit of land. To sell the farm to have money to live on, she had to marry a white man. He managed her business for her, stole everything she had, and left her with nothing.

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