researching the Panhandle
and adjacent areas, it's interesting to note most historical sites
and happenings occur along our creeks and rivers.
Our earliest towns of Fort
and Old Clarendon are located alongside streams. The Red River Wars
were named after the many tributaries of our largest river. The
Alibates Flint Quarries are near the Canadian
River. The early Indian ruins of Ochiltree
County lie near Wolf Creek and the prehistoric bison and Indian
finds near Folsom, N.M., lie alongside Wild Horse Arroyo.
Common sense tells us this coincidence is because man and beast
need water daily. The various wars, battles, historical happenings
and settlements came about because that is where the animals and
By studying a relief map of our area, we find that all creeks and
rivers in the Panhandle
mostly run from west to east and are located about 20 to 30 miles
apart. This fact was significant to the Indians, comancheros, soldiers,
buffalo hunters and trail drivers because they knew if they were
going north or south, water was just ahead.
The Indians and comancheros met and traded at these streams. Soldiers
hunting Indians went to known water holes first. Buffalo hunters
always traveled to the streams to seek their prey and trail drivers
planned their daily drives to always end with the presence of water.
On one hand, water was a necessity. On the other hand, too much
water became a danger. For example, the Canadian
River in flood season presented a formidable barrier. For weeks
after a flood, quicksand claimed many a person or animal through
The crossing at Tascosa
was safe, being narrow and seldom showed quicksand. The crossing
at Indian Creek just east of Texas Highway 70, occurred when heavy
floods along the creek washed a narrow band of gravel out across
the Canadian River
quicksands providing solid footing for man and beast.
for water stories, few can top that of Lugert, Okla.
Founded along the banks of the North Fork of the Red River in 1901,
Frank Lugert established a general store and post office at the
site. At first, his main customers were outlaws hiding in the nearby
Quartz and Wichita mountains. He sold more supplies in the dead
of night than in daylight.
On April 27, 1912, a tornado struck the town of 300 people, killing
three and damaging 41 of the 42 standing buildings. In 1927, the
nearby town of Altus built a dam some 458 feet long and 27 feet
high across the North Fork to provide water for their growing city.
This became today's Lake Altus.
Sadly, the lake water at high level would bury the old Lugert town
site beneath its surface. A few wooden buildings were moved to higher
ground. The rock and brick buildings were left and were eventually
When the lake waters are low, the old relics come into sight, providing
a neat photo opportunity for both hikers and boat enthusiasts. The
foundation of the school building, built in 1938, is a favorite.
Imagine, our own buried town only a few hours drive away.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" Column
- May 17, 2006