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Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma
Skiatook Lake is located on Highway 20, 4 miles west of the town of Skiatook and 11 miles east of Hominy, Oklahoma, approximately an hour’s drive from Tulsa. This beautiful lake is surrounded by the rolling hills of Blackjack Hill, Post Oak and Tallgrass Prairie.
Skiatook Lake has a surface area of about 10,500 acres and 160 miles of shoreline. The winding coastline is punctuated by picturesque steep bluffs that offer spectacular views.
The Story of Skiatook
The town of Skiatook was established in the late 1880s. There are conflicting historical accounts of the origin of Skiatook’s name. One story says that the town was founded on land that was the home of a prominent Osage Indian named Skiatooka. They named the community around his home, Skiatooka’s Settlement. There is another story that the name is derived from Ski-A-Took which is a Cherokee word meaning “big injun me” or describing a large man or a large expanse of land.
But what is generally accepted is that Cherokee Chief William C. Rogers founded Skiatook when he established a trading post in the Cherokee Nation located south of Bird Creek. Skiatooka, the Osage Indian was a frequent trader at the post, which may be why his name was associated with the town’s name.
In the early 1920s the road to Tulsa was paved. With good roads leading in all directions, Skiatook became known as the Gateway to all points North, South, East and West. Skiatook began buying water from Spavinaw in the 1930s, but when Skiatook Lake was finally completed in 1984, Skiatook had its own water source. Records show that the city of Skiatook has grown steadily since its beginnings in the 1880s. The population has increased by 93% since 1990.
On October 23, 1962, the Flood Control Act was passed by the 87th Congress. This authorized the construction of the Skiatook Dam and Lake. It is one of five projects in the Bird Creek Basin plan. These projects were recommended to meet the comprehensive water needs within the area. The purpose of Skiatook Dam and Lake construction was flood control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife management. By the time the project was completed on October 31, 1984, its total cost was $120 million.
The dam is an earthen embankment that is 3,590 feet long, including the spillway. It rises 143 meters above the stream bed. The embankment has a crown width of 32 feet. The uncontrolled spill consists of a concrete sill on the right abutment. The bottom of the spillway is 100 feet wide and its crest elevation is 732.0 and has a design capacity of 21,700 cfs. The exit works include a gate tower with selective entry; a 10.5-foot channel tunneled through the starboard abutment, served by two 4.67 by 10.5-story low-flow channels and a 36-inch water supply pipe.
Skiatook Lake offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation including:
- Boating and Sailing
You can go boating on Skiatook Lake. Boaters can explore the islands and coves that have natural rocky outcrops. There are secluded areas where people can have family outings. Boaters can launch from public boat ramps or rent boats at two marinas on the lake. The lake also has deep banks giving sailboats the ability to make the most of the available surface area of the lake. Winds come from the south or north and this gives the boats the opportunity to go up and down the length of the lake. Wave heights are also minimized.
The water is clear and clean, making it safe for swimmers.
- Camping and picnics
There are several lakeside campgrounds that visitors can choose from. The most popular is Tall Chief Cove. Campsites at Twin Points and Tall Chief Cove have water and electricity. Likewise Crystal Bay Marina which is located on a point overlooking the lake. The Bull Creek Peninsula has campsites that are more primitive. So does Armadillo Island. Stony Ridge Campground, located near the dam on Highway 20 can accommodate RV campers.
There are hiking trails located in the Skiatook Lake Wildlife Management Areas.
The shoreline surrounding Skiatook Lake is controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is the habitat of various species of wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, deer, some coyotes, quail, ducks and other native bird species. There are approximately 8,000 acres of land open to all hunters (subject to state and federal hunting regulations) at various times throughout the year.
Skiatook Lake is known for offering one of the best bass fishing experiences in the country. Bass anglers are always rewarded for their efforts whether they fish the main part of the lake or the high flats. The water is clear and clean all year round, because there are no branches of agricultural land, waste or chemicals. In addition, dam releases maintain downstream water quality and enhance some fisheries. Skiatook Lake is always in perfect ecological balance. Very little of the land was cleared when Skiatook Lake was formed. Many of the trees remained standing in most coves. This provided good habitat for fish as well as privacy for bass anglers. The lake hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. Skiatook Lake is becoming a hot spot for smallmouth bass. Tournament records have shown that bass anglers are catching smallmouth bass weighing up to five pounds. Other sport fish include largemouth bass, black and white crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, bluegill, carp, lake perch and others.
Skiatook Lake is a pristine body of water that is a paradise for fish and outdoorsmen alike – especially bass anglers. It is perfect for people who want to communicate with nature. So if you want to relax for a few days or longer, come and visit Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma.
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