Friday, November 28, 2014

Inside the Oil Sands

There's so much information or misinformation about oil tar sands and pipelines that it's hard to absorb it or believe it.  Part of the problem comes from the source of the information.  Credibility comes into question if oil sands and pipelines are promoted by the oil industry, or if concerns over the environment are advanced by the Sierra Club, but here is the Business Insider releasing photographic documentation about the tar sands operation.

This is an on-site photo essay of what the oil sands operation really looks like. Compare these with the beautiful Canadian boreal forest photographs that you are accustomed to seeing in expedition reports.

Credit: Business Insider  Be patient, it may take awhile to load, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell - 3

The cattle just kept pouring out of the tall brush, and I was apparently the most interesting thing that had happened in some time. They all followed me back up the shore. Finally I stopped and turned facing them, and just stood there. When they saw that I wasn’t going to break into song and dance and provide a floor show, or roll a 1,200-lb bale of hay out of the canoe, they lost interest and slowly began to wander off.

Just a few of the curious herd.
On Sunday, the winds came back up from the SW-WSW, gusting 25-35mph. The RV was on an open, exposed point and was buffeted back and forth with the gusts. Sitting inside with our books, we could even hear the wind moaning as it played across the tie-down lines on the canoes. Sweeping the full fetch of the lake, the wind sent big whitecaps rolling down the lake.

This all meant I went from paddling to plodding. has a ramp locator site where you can find confirmed boat ramps anywhere across the country, so I took the GPS and walked through the campground confirming boat ramp locations. That gave me a 3.8 mile stroll for the day.

The shallow headwaters area of the lake was incorporated into
pasture.  The problem is that once the area is no longer used, no
one comes back to clean up the mess and return it to a natural state.
Campground fees aren’t bad for the complete facilities provided. They are $20 for camping with water and electric, but there is no senior discount. Everything else is extra, such as $5 for access for day use, $8 launch fee, $10 for each PWC, $5 for a horse trailer and use of bridle trails, and $5 for trout fishing with a limit of 3 fish.

Carl Petty Blackwell, Sr.
Carl Blackwell graduated from OSU, then called the Oklahoma
Agricultural and Mechanical College, in 1918.  He eventually became
the Dean of Agriculture and Director of the school's agricultural
experimental station.

There are a couple caveats with the use of the lake. It is infested with zebra mussels, so all bilges and bait wells have to be emptied and cleaned. The hull has to be dried and scrubbed with hot 10% chlorine-water before going to another body of water. The other is that the lake rangers provide no vessel recovery services. In big, bold, all cap warnings, the boater is advised to provide for alternate plans to rescue himself regardless of the nature of the emergency.

The first cove to the west of the ranger station and store is Blackjack Cove. There is a buoyed line north from there to the opposite shore, which they call the ski line. Boaters, skiers, PWC users, etc are urged to stay east of that line where the water has been swept free of obstructions and is deepest. Venturing west of the ski line means the boater may encounter snags, stumps, and rocks, some just below the surface. The other significance of Blackjack Cove is that the main launch ramps near the ranger station are closed due to the lower water levels, and boaters are encouraged to use the ramp at Blackjack.


We were going to stay an extra day, but the next day’s forecast was for thunderstorms with 50 mph winds in the evening and hail, so we pulled out after breakfast and headed home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell - 2

An egret seaching along the shore for breakfast.
Lake Carl Blackwell is beautiful. It lies 6.8 miles west of the west edge of Stillwater, OK. It can be found on P.32, Grid D-5 of the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer, or P. 47 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book published by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Department of Wildlife Conservation. The lake, facilities, and surrounding lands are owned by the Oklahoma State University. It was built in 1937, is 3,370 acres, with a shoreline of 59 miles. The ravines or canyons the lake filled created a half-dozen fingers that not only give the lake its long shoreline, but also a number of havens for fish and wildlife. All the facilities are concentrated in the southeast corner of the lake, leaving all the rest of the shoreline natural. The surrounding lands are used by OSU for agricultural research. The shoreline is quite varied from mud, gravel, rock ledges, bluffs, reeds, and prairie grass.

There are many obstructions at or just below the surface.  Here
a spine of rock ran a hundred yards or more out into the lake.
The day paddling west along the shoreline was wonderful. I was hoping to get all the way to the bridge at Perry Road. If I could find a way to launch there, I could continue exploring the shoreline without having to backtrack. Unfortunately, with the lake being down about 6 feet, the headwater stream, Stillwater Creek, dried up and left me stranded in mud before the bridge came into sight, but I was close.

In the photo above, as I worked along the shore, I came around a point and found a spine of rock extending a hundred yards or so out into the lake. Rather than running all the way around, it appeared there was a small break between the boulders and the shore. I approached ever more slowly as more and more rocks came into view. I figured I could just inch my way through as I found an opening between the rocks. I was looking into the sun, so my vision was not the best, but proceeded, knowing I could always change my mind and go around in hopefully deeper water. I was half-way through when the rocks all around Buddy suddenly exploded. Some hit the canoe, one came half-way into the canoe, some slid beneath me as I felt them thumping my butt as they squirmed between my thin hull and the bottom, and they all threw a wall of water into the air that thoroughly soaked most of my upper torso. The dozens of rocks turned out to be carp bottom feeding in the shallow water. These fish fascinated me, as they would push themselves further and further into water only a few inches deep. I found one that had dried itself out so much that its gills were out of the water. It would lay over on one side to wet gills on one side, and then roll over after a bit to wet the other side.

A carp feeding in shallow water.
I was on the lake for six hours, but only went 12.5 miles, so obviously enjoyed plenty of time exploring, taking pictures, and even enjoying lunch and a couple rest breaks ashore.  A few flat boulders on the shore gave me a nice place to eat lunch. While there, I wanted to get a picture of Buddy, but I had the 400mm lens on the camera, so had to walk a good distance down the shore to get enough of the canoe in the picture. As I was walking back up the shore, I started hearing someone walking in the water behind me. I turned around to find some cattle that had materialized out of the tall weeds.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving for Good Videos

You will inevitably decide that there’s nothing good on TV. That’s by design. The worse the programming, the more programming packages you will buy in search of something that isn’t there. If you really want something rewarding, here are two videos you should enjoy.

Missouri River Canoe Trip at

And John Sullivan’s Canoe Voyaging Southern Wisconsin at

Both have some beautiful music.  We'll get back to Lake Carl Blackwell tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell, Stillwater, OK

Looking across the lake from a pocket of grass along the shore.
When we left Guthrie Lake on Saturday, we stopped in Guthrie for a few more days of provisioning at WalMart, since it was right on Rt. 77 (Division St.) and easy to get to. We had planned to make a stop at Langston Lake, but no camping was indicated. We knew camping was available at Carl Blackwell, so off we went.

Juvenile yellow crown night heron.  I wish I had gotten a better
picture, but I got one chance and it was gone.
When we arrived, the office staff indicated we had picked the worst weekend of the year to visit. OSU is reputed to have the largest homecoming in the United States, and we had pulled in for homecoming weekend. Of course she also said Oklahoma has more lakes than any other state in the country, and we know that isn’t true. Oklahoma has 177 lakes, which doesn’t start to compare with 11,842 in Minnesota, or 15,291 in Wisconsin, or 64,980 in Michigan, or 3,000,000 in Alaska. Now, if she had said we have the most artificial, man-made lakes of any other state, bingo. Anyhow, in spite of all the hoopla, Oklahoma lost to West Virginia 34-10.

On a related educational topic, a report was recently released naming Oklahoma as having the 49th worst educational standards in the country, losing only to Tennessee. (This number varies with the report being referenced. One placed Oklahoma as high as tenth worst.) Several of the lowest hanging fruit from the Bush of Knowledge had taken up residence in a campsite near us. I’ve never understood why campgrounds seem to increasingly discriminate against tent campers, or forbid them entirely. If this group was representative of tent campers, my inability to comprehend such dislike should be satisfied. Campground literature clearly states “quiet hours are to be observed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and the message is repeated with a sign at the entrance to each camping area and in front of about every third campsite, yet these miscreants kept the ruckus up with loud talking, hooting, screeching, and imitating coyotes until 1 a.m.

Finally able to lay its beak down for awhile, a pelican
pauses for a rest.
They began raiding every campsite looking for firewood by pulling into sites and scanning with their high-beam headlights, and then gathering anything they could carry. One log they picked up was 8-inches across at the small end and about six feet long. It was heavy enough it took three guys to carry it. This was the “kindling” with which they planned to start their bonfire. One of the girls yelled, “You’re on your own. I’m not going to help. I’m not going to jail for arsenic. Ew! It’s got ants all over it!” Apparently enough beers make arson and arsenic the same thing. The biggest shocker, however, came in the morning. One of the guys took a plastic bag and walked around their campsite picking up their beer cans. Giving credit where credit is due, I erased a black mark from their camping score. Then they made breakfast and threw egg shells on the ground all around their fire ring. Oh well. Here’s your black mark back. So close and yet so far.

The paddle down the lake will follow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Many of you would argue, with some sound reasoning, that it's January rather than November, but happy thanksgiving just the same.  Here's a wreath for the season that Jean and the granddaughters put together.  Several wild turkey feathers were used that we gathered during a walk through the woods.  I won't say where, since I don't want them all shot.  Their discarded tail feathers make a nice colorful addition for decorating.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Travels With A Kayak

Credit: Author's website
Travels With A Kayak by Whit Deschner (pub. by Eddie Tern Press, 1997, 251pp)

This is an unusual book, but one that you would enjoy. As far as the paddling is concerned, the author writes about his whitewater trips around the world. The locations span 30 years of international paddling and sound like at least a semester of geography---Nepal, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Great Britain, Alaska, the Everglades, and on and on. The writing style is back-handed, tongue-in-cheek, humorous. He strikes me as someone with a life-long subscription to Mad Magazine and with Saturday Night Live programmed on DVR. His facts are humorous, his humor is---ah, nope, the reverse won’t work. He has imaginary conversations with people long dead, and some with people that never lived. In short, the author could keep you simultaneously enlightened and entertained around a campfire anywhere. The book will do the same thing without you having to spend years dragging bags through airports.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sawbill Journey

The above link is for My Sawbill Journey by Jerry Vandiver.  The music is as wonderful as always, and the photography by Paul Sundberg is stupendous.  You'll love this.  Please check it out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Sad Season

Credit: Alex Comb, Solo Canoe
The last couple weeks have been a rush to beat the early crush of winter. Last week I was scraping, priming, and painting door frames during the Fairview Air Show. It was the 63rd Fairview Fly-In, the oldest free air show in the country. I rubber-necked to watch the planes making their final approach to the airport while I painted. Then it was the RV that needed to be cleaned and winterized before being put in storage. This weekend marks the end of the NASCAR season at Homestead, FL. And, I see Steve Earley (Log of Spartina) lamenting the end of his sailing season due to fog, cold, and launching ramps being closed with huge blocks of concrete making access impossible. It’s all just too depressing to think that such beautiful scenes as that above may be months away. Keep paddling becomes keep warm. Sad!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guthrie Lake

With the lake area so developed, I was able to
get a picture of only a heron.
Guthrie Lake is also located south of Guthrie, OK, and to the east of Liberty Lake. Guthrie Lake was built in 1919 as a 205-acre recreational lake for the city. It can be found on the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer on P. 32, Grid I-3, or Page 89 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book prepared by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Like Liberty, Guthrie also has a 5-mile shoreline, and also has its boat ramp closed due to about a 6-ft fall in lake levels, and the fishing dock is high and dry.

While Liberty was in a pastoral setting, Guthrie Lake looks like it is much closer to the city. Except for the headwaters, the shoreline is developed most of the way around. The Lakes of Oklahoma map book shows primitive camping across from the public area between Coltrane and Lake Roads. We never found a campground, couldn’t see it on Google Earth, and a local resident fishing there also said he didn’t know of a campground. We weren’t planning on staying there, but if that is your plans include camping, dig deeper, as the campground isn’t obvious. Perhaps using the contact number of (405)282-0496 would be recommended before making the trip. Even with our problems at Liberty Lake, for an enjoyable camping environment, I’d give the tip of the hat to Liberty over Guthrie.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Liberty Lake - 2

Well, Tchaikovsky had swan lake, but I had pelican lake, and
some Canada geese, sandpipers, and killdeer.
This all sounds really negative based on where I left off with the last post, so before moving on, let me balance this. When we came home, I sent a picture of the hole and comments on our experience to the Guthrie city hall. I received a response back from Anthony Gibbs, chief of special projects, saying that he was sorry we had encountered such problems, and that projects are indeed underway to correct the problems and not just greatly improve the campground, but build a new one. He said they have had continual problems with the area where we were. The ground is unstable, and even without rain, the service road is so close to the lake, and the ground so close to the water table of the lake, that it stays soft and has been a perpetual problem. The current campground will be stabilized and will become the parking area for day use activities. A new campground will be built further to the south that will feature gravel drives, leveled camping pads, and both water and electric to all sites. Also, the five-mile section of Academy Road from Guthrie to Liberty Lake will be paved. The new city manager and council, he says, are the most pro-active and determined to provide improved recreational and camping facilities for the public of any in the town’s history. The plans are well underway, and construction should start in July. So, if you plan to visit Liberty Lake and use camping as a launch pad for visiting the attractions in Guthrie, things should shortly be looking up. If the little lady wants something more posh than mud and blue herons, Guthrie also claims to be the bed and breakfast capitol of Oklahoma.

The next experience occurred about 3 o-clock in the morning. I heard a sound like rope being pulled through the canoes or racks, and at the same time Jean said, “There’s something on the truck.” I grabbed the flashlight, slid into my shoes, and bounded out the door in my underwear. There stood a Great Blue Heron on the hood of the Ram. In its haste to get away, it was dancing about on the hood trying to get clear of the tie-down ropes to fly away. It finally found a clear flight path, and took off screeching loudly. I was left with a half-dozen scratches on the hood of our truck, but they should compound out. The bottom line is this---when you go off in search of adventure, be careful what you ask for.

One pelican-killdeer sandwich.
As the sun was setting Friday night, a large flock of American Pelicans had gathered on the lake just offshore from us. A smaller group of Canada geese had also settled in, and after the heron had gone, we listened the rest of the night to honking geese and freight trains that actually were a lot more soothing than one would expect.

With the sunrise, a breeze came up from the south that had a fetch the full length of the lake, and the pelicans were gone. I paddled south, and once I reached the headwaters, there were the pelicans and geese. They had moved there into the lee of the land to seek a calmer breeze and smoother water. I paddled the full perimeter of the lake, and by the time I returned to the north end park area, three fishermen were already sitting along the bank wetting their lines.

And, lastly, three little first-year sandpipers working the shore.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Liberty Lake, Guthrie, OK

Liberty Lake is located south of Guthrie, OK, and was built in 1948 as both a water supply and recreational lake for the city. It can be found on the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer on P. 32, Grid I-3, or Page 110 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book prepared by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. The lake has a 5-mile shoreline.

From Kingfisher to Guthrie, we traveled 30 miles on Rt. 33. This is one of many of Oklahoma’s white-knuckled, take-your-life-in-your-hands roads. While there have been some upgrades, for many long stretches the lanes are only 10-feet wide, there is no safety edge outside the white line, and there are no shoulders. The white line marks the edge of the pavement, and then it drops off at a sharp angle into a deep ditch. The road is heavily used by large oil and gas industry drilling equipment and oversized loads on 18-wheelers that travel at high speeds. If anything goes slightly wrong, you have a choice between being wrecked in a head-on collision on the highway or being wrecked in the ditch. The very morning we returned home, two first-year junior-high school English teachers, ages 24 and 27, were killed on Rt. 33 in a head-on collision east of Guthrie while carpooling to school. Ironically, the road at the location of the collision has been slightly improved.

Looking south down the length of the lake.
Guthrie is an Oklahoma tourist attraction due to being the first capitol of the Oklahoma Territory, and of the state once statehood was achieved. It also has well preserved Victorian architecture from the 19th century, and is a National Historic Landmark. Unlike many towns and cities, like Oklahoma City, where urban development has destroyed much of its heritage, the central business and residential area of Guthrie remains mainly intact. Guthrie began in 1887 as the Deer Creek station for the Southern Kansas Railway, which was later acquired by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa-Fe Railway.

The sun setting across the lake.
At sunrise on April 22, 1889, the population of Deer Creek was zero. At noon, two million acres of Indian Territory lands that had been assigned to several tribes was opened for white settlement. With the firing of a gun at noon, 50,000 to 60,000 settlers rushed across the line and headed west to stake their homestead claims. By nightfall, both Guthrie and Oklahoma City had been created with populations each of 10,000 tent dwellers. Within mere months, Guthrie became known as the Queen of the Prairie with modern stone and brick buildings, the first being the National Loan and Trust Co., municipal water and electricity, a mass-transit system, and even underground garages for horses and carriages. Eventually, after being successful in acquiring a meat-packing industry and getting several railroads to converge there, Oklahoma City began to steal Guthrie’s stardom, and eventually became the state capitol in 1910.

Academy Road, which leads south from the west side to Guthrie to Liberty Lake, is a 5-mile unimproved dirt and gravel road. There are both good and bad things about Liberty Lake. The good is that the lake is away from the city and in a beautiful, rural setting. Unfortunately, water levels are low, again about 6 feet, and the boat ramp is closed. The bad points are several. The grounds have next to no facilities, no water at the sites nor even a hydrant in the campground, and poor maintenance. The only water is a hose on the side of the gatekeeper’s building. There are no restrooms or showers, but the porta-potties had just been serviced and were clean. There is apparently only one site with electric, and with the campground built on the side of a hill, only a couple sites where an RV can be leveled, making most of the sites primitive. There are no shortage of regulations, which are enumerated in a fine-print, two-sided tri-fold flyer, and also no shortage of fees. Day use of the park is $3.00, but free for seniors. Camping for up to 7 days is $14 a day with no facilities, or $17 on the one site with electric. There is no seniors’ discount for camping. The boat ramp fee is $5.

The campground service road.
I had two experiences here that I hope to never repeat. I’m very reluctant to criticize a campground. I can almost always make myself comfortable and happy, and accept that with a thousand tasks to perform, a campground cannot be groomed like my own yard. It is, after all, camping, but I found myself very unhappy here. The regulations say that one can only drive on the service roads provided, but the foot-and-a-half deep by 69 ft. long hog wallow that was to serve as the service road had not been created by just the last light rain. It has obviously been there a long time, and the fees collected had not been used for the dump truck load of rock that would have corrected the problem. I didn’t want to drive across their grass and possibly leave ruts, so in trying to do the right thing I did something very, very foolish that I will never do again. I felt I could navigate around the hole. The infamous Oklahoma red clay collapsed beneath me, and I sat there helpless as I felt both the truck and trailer slide sideways into the wallow, burying everything up to the axles. The trailer laid well over on its right side so the doors were level with the surrounding ground. I stood there looking at the mess for some time feeling really stupid. I envisioned needing to re-mortgage the house to get a tow truck all the way out there in the country on a weekend. Fortunately, we carry a good supply of wood blocks for jacking the trailer level. It would take Jean and I two hours of jacking and blocking to get the rig out of the hole. By that time, there wasn’t anything on either the truck or trailer that wasn’t covered with mud, and Jean and I were totally exhausted---much to exhausted to go paddling.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Picture of the Day

After a stressful afternoon (but still enjoyable), it turned into
a nice, quiet sunset and evening.  We had the campground
all to ourselves.  Liberty Lake, Guthrie, OK

Thursday, November 6, 2014

At Lake Elmer - 2

Here are a few more pictures from Lake Elmer.  This morning we have had several large flocks of sandhill cranes flying due south.  They know the weather is about to crash.
Here is the bridge where the feeder stream leads into the lake.
To the right is one of the spider blocks.

The end of the ramp, and the float just touches the water.  Elmer
is a shallow-water lake with a depth of about 8-feet at the south end.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

At Lake Elmer

Lake Elmer is located just northwest of Kingfisher, OK. It can be found on the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer on P. 31, Grid H-8, or Page 72 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book prepared by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. The lake was built in 1962, and then closed for renovation and restocking through 1978-1979. A fish kill in 2009 pretty much wiped out the lake as a fishery, but it was drained, upgraded again, and restocked with bass, sunfish, and catfish. It has a 3.4 mile shoreline, and additional information on current water levels or quality can be found by calling 580-762-2248, but it currently appears to be down about five feet. Because of the low water level, trailer launching for any but the smallest boats may be difficult to risky. Its primary use is as a recreational fishing lake. The Water Resources Board map doesn’t show any camping, but the Dept. of Wildlife Conservation does allow up to three days of primitive camping there.

Looking across Lake Elmer you can see some of the brush
anchored along the shore to protect fingerlings.

More fish havens and an egret working the shoreline.

One advantage of a small lake is the draw for wildlife into
a small area, making them easier to observe.

A cormorant taking flight.
The road back to the lake (Rd. E0780) is a round-top, unmarked, but paved road. We were a bit disappointed when we first saw the lake, as it appeared a lot of land-clearing trash had been dumped into the waters. When I launched Buddy on the lake and started to paddle its perimeter, however, I was delighted to see that intensive efforts have been exerted to provide a flourishing fish habitat. What I misinterpreted as trash is actually shrubs and tree tops that have been placed along the water’s edge to provide protection for fingerlings. They have even been anchored in place with cinderblocks wired to the brush. Besides these, many spider-blocks of different sizes have been added, as well as a tire reef. (Spider-blocks are many lengths of tubing cast in concrete to almost make a tubing bouquet where fingerlings are safer from large fish.) Even with these in place, there is still plenty of open water to enjoy.

The nearby town of Kingfisher came into being overnight with the Land Rush of April 22, 1889. It was named for an early resident actually called King Fisher. It also straddles the Chisholm Trail, and a statue of Jesse Chisholm is prominent in town.


Monday, November 3, 2014

To Lake Elmer

We drove south on Rt. 81, which closely follows the old Chisholm Trail, and throughout many miles was laid right over the old wagon and cattle tracks. A town south of Enid called Bison was then known as Buffalo Springs. Buffalo Springs was a watering spot on the Chisholm Trail where Pat Hennessey, an Irish teamster or freighter, and three co-workers had stopped their supply wagons and camped the previous night. They were carrying supplies south from Wichita. At the same time, a band of about a hundred Comanche, Cheyenne, Osage, and Kiowa braves camped to the southwest at present-day Watonga. On the morning of the Fourth of July, 1874, the war party moved northeast and the supply wagons followed the trail south from Buffalo Springs. Their paths would cross, and the war party would be the first to detect the other’s movement. The braves concealed themselves in some canyons along shale beds. Hennessey moved the wagons along the same shale beds to avoid soft ground where the wagons could get stuck. They rolled straight into the ambush. Hennessey walked alongside the lead wagon when the raid commenced. All were killed. Hennessey was found with a cartridge jammed in the breech of his rifle, but with them so overwhelmed, it is doubtful that the jammed rifle would have made a difference. There are two reports of how Hennessey met his death---the wagon rolled over onto him and he, his cargo of oats, and wagon were set afire, or he was tied to a wheel of the wagon and it was set afire. In his memory, the place of Pat Hennessey’s death and of his fellow teamsters would become the town of Hennessey following the land run of April 22, 1889. Hennessey’s body was moved at least once, but it is believed his body now rests under the concrete of Highway 81.

While having lunch at Red Fork Station Park on the north side
of Dover, we were impressed with two beautiful trees there.  I
called the town hall and was lucky enough to get the man who
cares for the park and bought two of the trees.  He identified the
tree behind Ibi's bow as an Arizona Cypress, unique for
being able to endure severe and frequent droughts here.  The
perfectly rounded tree to the right is an Umbrella Willow.
Indian Agent John. D. Miles, the same man that originally reported the Hennessey massacre, would the following day, July 5th, discover the Baker Ranch had been attacked and abandoned. The Baker Ranch, established by J. W. Baker in 1872, was another Chisholm Trail watering hole just south of the Hennessey incident. Baker made his money from any place it presented itself. His ranch was a trading post for cattle drovers, a rest stop for stage coaches, a hangout for horse thieves that stole Indian ponies, and a place where outlaws were known to congregate. Miles asked for U.S. Cavalry to guard this section of the trail. In 1890, Baker City was laid out on the site of the Baker Ranch, but it has become one of Oklahoma’s many ghost towns.

The town of Dover grew out of the Red Fork Ranch, also called Red Fork Station, another trail or “whiskey” ranch along the Cimarron Trail. It was on the north side of where the trail crossed the Cimarron River, which was then known as the Red Fork of the Arkansas River. The ranch served as a supply depot or trading post, a horse-changing station for the stagecoach line, the post office when it became a town, and where cavalry troops from Fort Sill were stationed following the Hennessey massacre.

I had to chuckle when I read several accounts of an accident that occurred at Dover in September, 1906. I wasn’t amused by the tragedy, obviously, but by how much news reporting, not unlike weather forecasting, has, or has not, changed in the last century. The accident involved the collapse of the Rock Island Railroad bridge over the Cimarron, which sent a train into the flood-swollen river. Reading the various reports of the incident showed that as many as 100 people were killed, or perhaps as few as 4 actually, but then only one was known to have perished, Hank Littlefield, a circus employee who drowned, while Kate Sells’ 3-yr. old child was in poor condition.

We would soon have to turn west from Rt. 81, just north of Kingfisher, to find Lake Elmer, so we stopped at a town park on the north side of Dover to have lunch. We found some information there on Red Fork Station, and also enjoyed two very beautiful trees that had been planted there surely decades before.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

3-P-100 for October

Credit: Alex Comb
3-P-100 for October was 105.2 miles.  Of this 32.1 was paddling, and the rest of the exercising activity was split between peddling and plodding.  Stay active to stay young.  Let me know how you do.  jim