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Lake Texoma

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Title: Lake Texoma  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Oklahoma State Highway 99, Durant, Oklahoma, Denison, Texas, List of lakes in Oklahoma, Washita River
Collection: Landforms of Bryan County, Oklahoma, Landforms of Cooke County, Texas, Landforms of Grayson County, Texas, Landforms of Johnston County, Oklahoma, Landforms of Love County, Oklahoma, Landforms of Marshall County, Oklahoma, Nature Centers in Oklahoma, Protected Areas of Bryan County, Oklahoma, Protected Areas of Cooke County, Texas, Protected Areas of Grayson County, Texas, Protected Areas of Johnston County, Oklahoma, Protected Areas of Love County, Oklahoma, Protected Areas of Marshall County, Oklahoma, Reservoirs in Oklahoma, Reservoirs in Texas, State Parks of Oklahoma
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma
The Oklahoma shores slope toward the water's edge
Location OklahomaTexas border,
United States
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Red River, Washita River
Primary outflows Red River
Catchment area 39,719 sq mi (102,870 km2)
Basin countries United States
Surface area 89,000 acres (36,000 ha)
Water volume 2,525,568 acre·ft (3.115242 km3)
Surface elevation 615 to 619 ft (187 to 189 m)
Settlements Denison, Sherman, Gainesville (Texas); Durant, Ardmore, Madill, (Oklahoma)

Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, the 12th largest US Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) lake, and the largest in USACE Tulsa District.[1] Lake Texoma is formed by Denison Dam on the Red River in Bryan County, Oklahoma, and Grayson County, Texas, about 726 miles (1,168 km) upstream from the mouth of the river. It is located at the confluence of the Red River and Washita Rivers. The damsite is approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Denison, Texas, and 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Durant, Oklahoma. Lake Texoma is the most developed and most popular lake within the USACE Tulsa District, attracting approximately 6 million visitors a year.[1]


  • Hydrology 1
    • Tributaries and outlet 1.1
    • Water levels 1.2
  • Geography 2
    • Cities 2.1
    • Islands 2.2
    • Parks 2.3
  • History 3
  • Popularity 4
  • Recreation 5
    • Fishing 5.1
    • Camping 5.2
  • Private development initiatives 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Tributaries and outlet

Lake Texoma's two main sources are the Red River from the west and Washita River from the north. Other notable sources include Big Mineral Creek, Little Mineral Creek, Buncombe Creek, Rock Creek, and Glasses Creek. Lake Texoma drains into the Red River at the Denison Dam.

Water levels

Normal elevation of the conservation pool varies from 615 to 619 ft (187 to 189 m) National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) depending on the time of year. The flood control pool extends to elevation 645 ft (197 m) NGVD. The lake has crested the dam's spillway at a height of 640 ft (195.07 m) five times: once in 1957, again in 1990, 2007, May 24, 2015 and most recently on June 18, 2015[2] (USACE 2003a). The lake's previously highest elevation was recorded on May 6, 1990 at 644.76 feet.[3] This record was broken on May 29, 2015 and the lake crested on June 1, 2015 at a new record elevation of 645.72 feet. The top of Denison Dam is at 670 feet.


Map of Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma is situated on the border between the states of Oklahoma and Texas in the Oklahoma counties of Bryan, Marshall, Johnston, and Love, and the Texas counties of Grayson and Cooke.[4] It has a surface area of 89,000 acres (360 km²), a conservation water volume of 2,525,568 acre·ft (3.115242 km3), and a flood control volume of 5,194,163 acre·ft (6.406906 km3).[5]


Notable cities surrounding the lake in Texas are Denison, Sherman and Gainesville. In Oklahoma, the most notable city is Durant.

Other towns and cities near the lake in Bryan County, Oklahoma, include Cartwright, Colbert, Calera, Platter and Mead. In Marshall County, Oklahoma, they include Little City, Cumberland, Kingston, Woodville, McBride Willis and the unsubmerged portion of Aylesworth. Most of Aylesworth was submerged under the water of the lake. Other towns and cities in Texas include Gordonville, Cedar Mills, Locust, Fink, Pottsboro, and Preston.


There are several small islands on Lake Texoma accessible only by means of water transportation.


Lake Texoma features two state parks and fifty four USACE-managed parks. The northern and southern reaches of the lake each terminate within a National Wildlife Refuge.


Denison Dam and Lake Texoma were authorized for construction by the Flood Control Act approved June 28, 1938 (Public Law 75-791) for flood control and generation of hydroelectric power. The dam, spillway, and outlet works were started in August 1939 and completed in February 1944. At that time, Denison Dam was the largest rolled, earthfilled dam in the United States. The project was put into operation for flood control in January 1944. The first hydroelectric turbine was placed in operation in March 1945, while a second unit became operational in September 1949. The town of Woodville, Oklahoma was submerged by the lake. The site was later exposed by a severe drought in 2011.[6] Most of the town of Aylesworth was submerged by the construction of the lake. Lake Texoma is also the only lake in the contiguous United States to have its own independent government known as Lake Texoma Indian Territory. The lake was constructed during WWII. North of Gainesville Camp Howze was constructed for military training. German prisoners were sent there. Some were used to clear cut the timber below the flood line for Lake Texoma. The lake was pristine until flood waters rose above the clear cut line in 1957.

The lake attracted worldwide media attention in June 2015 when water was drained following a flood, causing a vortex with 2.5 meter wide hole to form.[7]


Lake Texoma's popularity is largely attributed to its sheer size and proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The lake is about an hour's drive north from the metropolitan area. The Lake Texoma area, known simply as Texoma or Texomaland, is experiencing rapid economic growth due to heavy tourist use.


Diverse recreational opportunities include two wildlife refuges, two state parks, fifty four USACE-managed parks, twelve marinas, twenty-six resorts, hundreds of campgrounds and a variety of excellent golf courses. Power boating, sailing, personal watercraft, water skiing and wind surfing are all popular. The lake has become a major sailing center based on its size, depth and miles of sailing shoreline.

During the spring break and Fourth of July holidays, many college students home for the holidays will gather in an area called "Fobb Bottom" on the Oklahoma side.

Lake Texoma is also home to the Lakefest Regatta,[8] widely considered to be the first inland charity regatta in the United States. The event typically attracts up to 100 keelboats and more than 500 sailors each spring. Since its inception, Lakefest[9] has raised more than $2 million in support of various children’s charities in North Texas. The current beneficiary is the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of North Texas.[10]

Former professional Funny Car race driver "Flash" Gordon Mineo organized many "Poker Run" events on Lake Texoma.


Management of the fishery resources at Lake Texoma is the responsibility of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Lake Texoma provides habitat for at least 70 species of fish, several of which were introduced by the ODWC and TPWD. These agencies maintain a supplemental stocking program to improve the fishery resource. Those species popular for recreational fishing include largemouth, spotted, white, and striped bass (Micropterus salmoides, M. punctulatus, Morone chrysops, and M. saxatilis); white crappie (Pomoxis annularis); and channel, blue, and flathead catfish (Ictalurus punctatus, I. furcatus, and Pylodictis olivaris). The striped bass fishery in particular is very popular and is considered one most successful in the nation. In addition, downstream of the dam is a tailwater fishery that supports the species and the three local catfish. American gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), threadfin shad (D. petenense), and inland silverside (Menidia beryllina) are important forage species. Freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), gars (Lepisosteus spp.), buffaloes (Ictiobus spp.), and river carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio) also inhabit the lake.

The lake was stocked with striped bass in the late 1960s, and has proven to be an excellent habitat for them. It is one of the seven U.S. inland lakes where the striped bass reproduce naturally, instead of being farmed and released into the waters. The "stripers" feed on large schools of shad, and often reach sizes of 12 to 20 pounds (5 to 9 kg), with a lake record of 35.12 lb (15.93 kg) caught April 25, 1984. The town of Kingston, Oklahoma, celebrates the importance of striper fishing to the local area with the annual Kingston Striper Festival each September.

In 2004, a blue catfish was pulled from the lake that weighed 121.5 pounds (55.1 kg), temporarily setting a world weight record for rod-and-reel-caught catfish.[11] The fish was moved to a freshwater aquarium in Athens, Texas. More commonly, catfish in Lake Texoma weigh between 5 and 70 pounds (2 to 30 kg).

Historically, Texas and Oklahoma have not had a reciprocal fishing license agreement, which has posed a problem for anglers. Recent boundary resolutions have given Oklahoma jurisdiction over most of the fishing in Lake Texoma. An Oklahoma fishing license allows fishing most of the lake, up to within 400 yards (370 m) of Denison Dam. To fish the entire lake, a Lake Texoma fishing license is also available.


Many campgrounds, both public and private exist along the shores of Lake Texoma. Among these are Eisenhower State Park, named for President Dwight Eisenhower, who was born in nearby Denison, TX and Camp All Saints owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

Private development initiatives

Water going over emergency spillway for the third time in the dam's history, July, 2007

Recently several large transfers of public land to private developers have been authorized by the Federal government.

The Water Resources Development Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-53 113 Stat. 359), authorized USACE to sell to the state of Oklahoma approximately 1,580 acres (6.4 km2) of federally owned land on the north shore of Lake Texoma in Marshall County, Oklahoma, under lease at that time to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. The land was part of the Lake Texoma State Park, a conglomerate of state-owned lands and federally owned lands leased to the state, totaling approximately 1,882 acres (7.62 km2). The park was home to numerous state and concession operated facilities and activities, including a resort lodge with 106 guest rooms and suites.

Initially the State of Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office purchased only 558 acres (2.26 km2) from USACE in March 2007. Soon after, the State reached an agreement with Pointe Vista Development, LLC, for the sale of approximately 750 acres (to include the land purchased from USACE and land already owned by the State) for the development of home sites and an upscale resort. Pointe Vista is a partnership between Mark Fischer, president and chief executive of Chaparral Energy, and Aubrey McClendon, chairman and chief executive of Chesapeake Energy. Also in 2007, the Governor of Oklahoma, Brad Henry, indicated that the state would likely purchase all or most of the remaining land at Texoma State Park under lease from USACE to transfer to Pointe Vista for further development. The new development is proposed to include 18–36 holes of championship golf, a club house and practice facility, aquatic center, outdoor recreation center, nature parks, campgrounds, retail shops and an amphitheater. It is estimated that the new development will cost $360 million, which will also include housing, as well as a full-service hotel with restaurants, gym, business center, multiple swimming pools, spa and meeting rooms. The proposed private community will have 250–350 high-end homes, ranging in size from 1,500 to 4,000 square feet (140 to 370 m2).

The Lake Texoma Lodge, built in 1951, officially closed its doors on December 1, 2006. The lodge was in poor repair, resulting in a steady decline in the facility's use.[12] As of May 2015, new development has yet to begin. Local area businesses have expressed concern at the loss of tourism revenue currently being experienced, and that without a lodge or hotel of some kind capable of housing large groups, a significant reduction in business will continue to be experienced. Early estimates are it could be anywhere from three to eight years before anything new is in place to house large groups visiting the lake.

Section 3182(j) of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, authorized USACE to convey approximately 900 acres (3.6 km2) of land at Lake Texoma to the city of Denison, Texas. The provision was backed by U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall (R) as an economic development initiative. The sale is to be at fair market value and the city of Denison is responsible for all costs associated with the transaction (costs for completing NEPA compliance documentation, surveys, appraisals, USACE administrative costs, etc.). The city in turn intends to sell the property to George Schuler, a local developer, for the creation of a private residential and recreational development on the conveyed land and adjacent land already owned by Mr. Schuler. The eventual development may result in as many as 10,000 residents locating in the Grandpappy Point area.

The city and Mr. Schuler attempted to lease the same land from the Corps of Engineers in 2004, but abandoned those attempts in favor of legislation mandating the transfer, due to the inability to use the land for the intended purposes under a lease without an update of the Corps Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) for Lake Texoma. The majority of the land is currently zoned as Limited Development, Protected Area (suitable for nature hiking, birdwatching, etc.) and Aesthetic or Scenic areas. The Corps has previously stated that any revision of the SMP will require the completion of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the entire Lake Texoma project that will consider the cumulative impacts of the extensive development that has occurred around the Lake since the original EIS was conducted in the 1970s. Completion of a lake-wde SEIS has been estimated by the Corps to take up to 2 years to complete at a cost of approximately $2.5 million. Since Section 3182(j) contained no provisions exempting the sale from the requirements of NEPA, it is expected that completion of the SEIS and revision of the SMP will also be required prior to completion of the sale, and that the city of Denison will be required to bear that as a cost associated with the transaction.


  1. ^ a b "Tulsa District Lake Info (Lake Texoma)". Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  2. ^ "Lake Texoma Finally Over Spillway". Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  3. ^ "Lake Texoma Info". Retrieved July 25, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Denison-Dam Denison Dam (dam, Texas, United States)". Encyclopædia Britannica (online edition). Retrieved July 6, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Denison Dam". National Performance of Dams Program. Stanford University. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  6. ^ "As Drought Continues, Depleted Texas Lakes Expose Ghost Towns, Graves". Associated Press. November 20, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "'"Vortex in Lake Texoma 'could swallow small boat. BBC. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Lambeth, M. "2007 Oklahoma Catfish". Oklahoma Game & Fish. Intermedia Outdoors, Inc. Retrieved July 25, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Officials unveil $350 million Lake Texoma private development deal" The Journal Record, March 17, 2006, Accessed June 8, 2009.

External links

  • Army Corps of Engineers: lake level
  • Lake Texoma State Park info, photos and video on Official travel and tourism website for the State of Oklahoma
  • Lake Texoma from the Handbook of Texas Online
  • Lake Texoma Association: Tourism and Recreation
  • Denison, Texas
  • Sherman, Texas
  • Lake Texoma Online Community
  • Lakefest Regatta
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lake Texoma
  • Oklahoma Digital Maps: Digital Collections of Oklahoma and Indian Territory
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