Quartz Mountain Nature Park is in a region that has the unusual distinction of having been under five flags.
(1) Spanish from the late 1500’s until it was included in the Louisiana Province of France
(2) French until it was part of the Louisiana Purchase
(3) United States of America
(4) Mexico claimed it, as did
(5) the Republic of Texas
The earliest white U.S. exploration of the park region was made in 1834 by a regiment of dragoons under General Henry Leavenworth and Colonel Henry Dodge, whose mission was to make treaties with the Plains tribes. The first Indians they met were Comanche, who guided them to a Wichita village in what is now known as the Devil’s Canyon area of the Nature Park.
The next government expedition was for the purpose of exploring the Red River, the treaty boundary between the United States and Texas. In 1852, Captain Randolph Marcy set out to explore the upper Red River. He followed the North Fork tributary mistaking it for the main stream, and this error resulted in the long dispute over the ownership of “Old Greer County”.
In 1860 the area enclosed by the Red River, its North Fork tributary, and the 100th Meridian was settled by veterans of the Texas War of Independence and organized as Greer County, Texas.
General Custer marched his troops to Quartz Mountain in pursuit of the Cheyenne who had fled from their reservation.
Close to the site of the park, the Kiowas held a medicine dance, at which time Santanta resigned his chieftainship by giving over the symbolic medicine lance.
1874 to 1886
The Western Cattle Trail, along which many thousands of Texas cattle were driven north, ran just west of the current park boundaries.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that “Old Greer County” belonged to the United States rather than Texas. It was then assigned to the Territory of Oklahoma.
1897 Greer County was opened to homesteaders.
The town of Lugert was founded in 1901 on 80 acres Frank Lugert filed on. (Frank Lugert came to this area in 1898. ) Frank had a general store that housed the Post office and sold: dry goods, school supplies, groceries, harnesses, axes and much more. At the height of its prosperity the town had a bank, 2 hotels, 2 pool halls, 2 restaurants, 1 saloon and a lumberyard.
April 27, 1912 approximately 12:30 P.M. a tornado hit Lugert, then a town of 300. Three people died in the tornado and 41 of the 42 business buildings in the town were swept away.
Altus built a 458-ft dam, 27 feet high, across the North Fork of the Red River for a source of city water. The city stocked the lake with fish and made a start in developing the park area before it officially became a State Park in 1935.
Quartz Mountain was established as a CCC camp in late 1935 under the direction of the National Park Service. The park had the benefit of planning by a full corps of men technically trained in all phases of park activity and developments. Money for park development came almost entirely from ECW funds.
The Oklahoma State Park Commission was created March 1, 1935, as a subdivision of the Game and Fish Commission. The commission learned the National Park Service was willing and anxious to assist the State of Oklahoma in developing a state park system. ECW funds and CCC labor were available for the development, if Federal Government requirements could be met by the State.
One of the requirements was that the State must own the land on which parks were located before work could be undertaken. The City of Altus and private citizens donated 3,000 acres of land at Quartz Mountain to create one of seven original Oklahoma State Parks. (Beavers Bend, Boiling Springs, Lake Murray, Osage Hills, Quartz Mountain, Robber’s Cave and Roman Nose).
In early 1937,the National Park Service turned over Quartz Mountain to the State of Oklahoma after having constructed roads, picnic areas, shelters, comfort stations and trails at an approximate cost of $150,000.00.
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1938 authorized construction of the Lugert-Altus Flood Control and Reclamation Reservoir. The project was designed to raise the dam and corresponding lake level 50 feet to its present level for the purpose of irrigating ~ 48,000 acres of cropland in SW Oklahoma and to provide flood control.
W.C. Austin Dam completed.
The Quartz Mountain Lodge is built.
It had 44 rooms, an indoor pool and an outdoor pool and tennis courts.
A nine-hole golf course was completed.
Campgrounds were constructed on the Northshore.
The Oklahoma Arts Institute has a permanent home at the Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center in southwestern Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Arts Institute’s home page states: “The Oklahoma Arts Institute was created in 1976 as a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to providing an educational program of excellence in the arts for young people. In 1983, at the request of the parents and teachers of Arts Institute students, a second program was added to accommodate adult artists. The Arts Institute’s purpose is to develop artists and arts audiences across the state and the region, improving the quality of life for all Oklahoman’s.”
ARTS INSTITUTE WEBSITE
The Quartz Mountain Golf course is expanded to 18 holes.
Quartz Mountain Lodge burns.
An electrical fire in the sauna area destroys the public access areas (restaurant, front desk, offices everything BUT the wing of rooms). The lodge reopens 2 months later with the pole barns on the tennis courts as the restaurant and laundry space.
The Lodge closes as demolition and reconstruction start.
750-seat Twin Peaks Performing Arts Theatre finished.
The Lodge complex opens under private management in 2001 after reconstruction costs of ~$17,000,000.00.
The Access Fund purchases Baldy Point and then donates it to the State of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Legislature transfers Quartz Mountain from the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.(74 OC 3106-4)
The Dunnam property donated to Quartz Mountain.
Quartz Mountain’s Baldy Point Trails project is awarded $80,000 for trail construction & improvement.