Exploring Oklahoma Lakes: Altus-Lugert
Another stellar weekend has passed where I was able to get out and explore a little more of Oklahoma. Since I've been on a fishing hot streak out West, I decided to drive up a mountain and try my luck at a lake I haven't fished at in decades, Lake Altus-Lugert.
Located just North of Altus, Altus-Lugert (AKA- Lugert) is one of those lakes that is generational in my family. While I'm not, both parents are from SWOK, so odds are, Lake Lugert is the lake they grew up on when it came to watersports in the 60's and 70's, it's only natural I get to know it now in my adult life. I know when I was much younger, my dad would plan fishing trips to this lake since it's close to his family, and a good fishery. We did make the mistake once of camping here in August, I wouldn't recommend it, but the cabins offered for rent are a perfect example of a traditional weekend getaway. Small quarters means solid family time.
Being a lake created between mountains, the water there is astonishingly clear. Tea-stained to a brown-ish color, but clear. This is no typical Oklahoma mud lake. Walking the banks looking for a place to cast a line, I remember the lake tales told to me when I was younger. While tall tales are fine, the internet of today can shed accurate information on the true story of this lake.
As the story goes, The town of Lugert was founded on that spot in the mountains in 1901. It was little more than a rural townsite that supplied the area farms with a place to experience city life featuring a general store, post office, and a handful of other businesses. In 1912, a tornado came through the area, destroyed most of the town, and that was pretty much the end of that town. Not to say people didn't still live and work there, they just didn't rebuild what had been destroyed.
Late in the 1920's, since SWOK is such a drought-likely place, the City of Altus decided to damn up the North Fork of the Red River there in the mountains right along side Lugert. They built a dam and it served as a water source for the town, it was named Lake Altus. It wasn't until after WWII that Lugert was all but deserted, and a plan to build the dam higher looked like a reality, so they added fifty more vertical feet to the dam, and the lake swallowed up Lugert. Now, the larger abundance of water could not only provide for the population of people South in Altus, there was enough to sell farmers water to irrigate their crops. Mainly cotton as it is still the case today, but that's a different story. The new lake was dubbed Altus-Lugert, and you now have the history of an interesting locale to visit and enjoy in SWOK.
Not only do they offer camping and cabins along the lake, there are activity centers that kids and teens can enjoy... Mini golf, go carts, hiking, biking, etc... The Quartz Mountain Resort is further up the trail. It offers very upscale accommodations including a restaurant the locals rave about. While the coronavirus has disrupted life all over the country, the resort is a place that has managed to stay open this entire time, including the restaurant with limited hours.
I know, this is going on long, but I can't help but share the cool history of a place you've never been. If you get the chance, you should take a drive to it. It's roughly an hour-ish away from Lawton, and whether you haul the boat over there or not, it's worth spending the day or weekend. If you fish, take your tackle, the bite has been good even off the bank and docks.
If you're tired of staying home, plan yourself a little getaway inside our fantastically diverse and history rich state. Head over to TravelOK.com to plan your next destination to explore. Oklahoma is a unique state in the sense that it's old enough to be full of history, but still young enough you can experience that history the same as it was a hundred years ago. The buildings still stand, the places are unchanged, and at least in Western Oklahoma, the wild is still very wild.