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.