Medicine Park is located at the main entry to the
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the second most
visited wildlife refuge in the country - hosting more than
1.5 million annual visitors.
The community has a rich and colorful history. Origin-
ally founded on July 4th, 1908 by Oklahoma Senator
Elmer Thomas, Medicine Park was Oklahoma’s first
planned tourism resort.
In the spring of 1906, the then young lawyer and soon
to be Senator envisioned the need for not only a
recreational area, but also the need for a permanent
water source for the budding and newly founded City
of Lawton. Over a period of a few years, he and a
partner, Hal Lloyd from Altus quietly purchased approx-
imately 900 acres of what is now the cobblestone
community of Medicine Park.
When the resort first opened, it consisted merely of a
large surplus Army tent with a wooden floor that served
as a place to for hot meals, the swimming hole and
a limited number of campsites.
Over a period of approximately 4 years numerous
improvements were added and the area began to take
on the look and feel of a bona fide resort. Tourists flocked
to the area from around the state and North Texas to
enjoy the mountains, wildlife, swimming, good food
and lodging. Soon, there were two inns ( the Outside
Inn and the Apache Inn ), Baird’s Health Sanitarium
(which featured clay tennis courts and a spa),
a Dance Hall, Canteen, Petting Zoo, Bath House,
a General Store, School, Bait Shop, Hydro Electric
Power Plant and the Dam Café.
The entire Bath Lake Park was landscaped with
beautiful gardens, large trees, foot bridges and grassy
areas for visitors to lounge around, sunbathe and
enjoy the natural beauty. The area flourished during
the late teens to the 1930’s as the
“Jewel of the Southwest.”
The nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and
Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people each
weekend and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park
became the “playground” for the State’s rich, famous
and notorious. Folks would come to town for the week-
end and leave their “work-a-day” world, troubles and
reputations behind them. Outlaws and horse thieves
mixed with noted politicians and businessmen, families
and socialites in this new cobblestone community.
The pages of the Town’s colorful history are filled
with the likes of Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips,
Bob Wills, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde,
Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin, Colonel Jack Abernathy,
Les Brown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and countless others.
The Medicine Park “spirit” is a special blend of the
Native American belief in the healing powers of the
waters of Medicine Creek and the use of rounded
cobblestones in almost all early-day structures.
This construction material is unique in Oklahoma,
and is found in only a few other places in the country.