Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lake Tom Steed

After miles of brown, featureless prairie, an oasis.
Tom Steed Lake can be located in the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for Oklahoma, P. 49, map grid 10-F.  It is located between the village of Cold Springs and the town of Mountain Park.  The reservoir was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1975 with 30 miles of shoreline and 6,400 surface acres.  There were 460 acres set aside on the SE shore for the Great Plains State Park with 56 RV hook-up sites and 30 tenting sites.  The lake’s source is West Otter Creek.  At the south end of the lake, the creek passes between canyon walls that created the perfect place for a 535-ft. long dam that stands 133-ft. tall.

We had a couple neighbors, but the campground was mostly
our own for this visit.  Ibi sits in the foreground on the cart.
The lake is named for Thomas Jefferson Steed, who was born on a farm in nearby Texas in 1904.  He completed only one semester of high school after the family moved to Oklahoma, and then got a job with the Ada Evening News.  He worked his way through several newspapers, served as an aide to three congressmen, and returned from Washington to become editor of the Shawnee News-Star.  With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Army and served as an anti-aircraft artillery officer in the India-Burma Theater as he rose to 2nd lieutenant. 

A Great Egret tolerates a brief intrusion.
He served Oklahoma in the U.S. Congress for 32 years.  He cosponsored the Upstream Conservation Act of 1954, which led to the construction of 2,107 dams for flood control, enabling Oklahoma to lead the nation in flood management.  Forty-two of these dams also provide water reservoirs for municipal and rural water supplies.  He cosponsored a bill with Sen. Robert S. Kerr to create the Arkansas River Navigation System, which ties Northeast Oklahoma to the Mississippi River, and creates the Port of Catoosa just northeast of Tulsa, the most inland port in the United States.  He also worked to fund college and vocational schools, and in 1956 cosponsored the Library Services Act, which among other things created the bookmobile program to make library books accessible to suburban and rural communities.
To be continued.

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