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Medicine Park

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Medicine Park

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Medicine Park [2] is in the Great Plains Country region of southwest Oklahoma just north of the Fort Sill Military Reservation.

Medicine Park is a town in Comanche County, Oklahoma, United States, situated in the Wichita Mountains near the entrance to the 60,000 acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Many of the original structures are constructed out of naturally formed granite cobblestones. These red granite cobblestones are unique to the Wichita Mountains. The community has a rich and colorful history. Originally founded on July 4th, 1908 by Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas, Medicine Park was Oklahoma’s first planned tourism resort.

Medicine Park has grown into an arts community with several artists in residence including sculptors, fine artists, graphic designers, musicians including street theater actors. From regular gallery openings at the Winery of the Wichitas with live music on the weekends to outdoor concerts at the Park Tavern throughout the summer, Medicine Park offers a great place to visit anytime of year.The population was 373 at the 2000 census.

Getting there[edit]

Medicine Park is also located near the city of Lawton and Fort Sill. Interstate 44 runs North-South just to the west of Medicine Park. State Hwy 49 runs East-West and can be accessed from I44. Medicine Park is located at the main entry to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the second most visited wildlife refuge in the country - hosting more than 1.5 million annual visitors.


The community has a rich and colorful history. Originally founded on the 4th of July 1908 by Elmer Thomas, a young lawyer who had just become the first Senator of Oklahoma, Medicine Park was Oklahoma’s first planned tourism resort.

In the spring of 1906, just five years after the establishment of the Wichita Mountains National Forest, Elmer Thomas envisioned the need not only for a recreational area but also the need for a permanent water source for the budding and newly founded City of Lawton. Over a period of a few years, he and a partner, Hal Lloyd from Altus, quietly purchased approximately 900 acres of what is now the cobblestone community of Medicine Park.

When the resort first opened, it consisted merely of a large surplus Army tent with a wooden floor where hot meals were served. Two dams were constructed on Medicine Creek to form Bath Lake Swimming Hole and a limited number of campsites were built. Over a period of approximately 4 years, numerous improvements were added, and the area began to take on the look and feel of a bona fide resort.

About this same time period, numerous such resorts were opening near the entries of other newly founded National Parks and National Forests all across the country. The American public held a remarkable fascination with nature. The coming of the automobile gave unprecedented access to our country’s natural wonders. Resorts began springing up nationwide to provide these new found "tourists" with food, lodging and entertainment.

Tourists flocked to the area from around the state and North Texas to enjoy the mountains, wildlife, swimming, good food and lodging. Soon, there were two inns -- the Outside Inn and the Apache Inn (which was formerly the Press Association Clubhouse) -- Baird’s Health Sanitarium (which featured clay tennis courts and a spa) -- a Dance Hall, The Medicine Park Lodge (atop Mount Dunbar), a Canteen, Petting Zoo, Bath House, General Store, School, Bait Shop, Hydro Electric Power Plant and the infamous Dam Café. Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys (the kings of western swing) became regulars at the Dance Hall from 1929 through the late 1930s. Numerous other famous bands of the day made their way through Medicine Park in route to big city venues in Oklahoma City, Dallas and Fort Worth.

The entire Bath Lake Park was landscaped with beautiful gardens, large trees, foot bridges and grassy areas for visitors to lounge around, sunbathe and enjoy the natural beauty. The area flourished during the late teens to the 1940s as the “Jewel of the Southwest.”

The nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people each weekend and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park became the “playground” for the State’s rich, famous and notorious. Folks would come to town for the weekend and leave their “work-a-day” world, troubles and reputations behind them. Outlaws and horse thieves mixed with noted politicians and businessmen, soldiers and officers from Fort Sill, families and socialites in this new cobblestone community. The pages of the Town’s colorful history are filled with the likes of Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips, Bob Wills, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin, Colonel Jack Abernathy, Les Brown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and countless others. [3]

People Of Interest[edit]

Elmer Thomas, the founder of Medicine Park, became a powerful politician in the State of Oklahoma. He went on to serve in the State Senate from 1907-1920, was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1923-1927 and a United States Senator from 1927-1951.

In the early 1960s Rex and Ruby “Grandma” Leath purchased from the Texas Land Company the building that was originally constructed as The Outside Inn in 1910 and later called The Grand Hotel. They named it The Old Plantation Restaurant. It was listed on the National Historic Register in the 1970s. The restaurant was known for it's burgers, catfish, huge sirloin steaks that "hung off the platter," and famous rolls. Rex could always be found behind the bar or in the kitchen, Grandma at someone's table telling her tall tales, promoting Medicine Park or giving out her recipe for hot rolls. She was a “one woman Chamber of Commerce.”

In the late 1960s, the need for improving and expanding the utilities infrastructure was becoming apparent to the Park’s residents. The town was officially incorporated as “The Town of Medicine Park” in 1969. Edward A. Hilliary, Jr. was elected as Chairman (mayor) and served as such for 12 years. Early members of the Town Council included: Jack Laughter, RC “Chuck” Gardener and Roy Brown, followed by Rex Leath, “Doc” Dodson and AP Tuck, who served as Police Commissioner. Hilliary installed the first water and sewer systems in Medicine Park. He also owned many businesses in Medicine Park, including Park Propane and Medicine Park Telephone Company, he also partnered with Edna Hennessee to develop Big Rock Mountain Estates.

David and Candace McCoy helped jump start the rebirth of Medicine Park through construction and renovation of businesses and residential houses as well as donations of land and time. In 1995, The Riverside Café, closed for many years, was purchased by the McCoys. The couple worked diligently to restore the café. After they opened for business in August 1996, a new breed of visitor began showing up in town. They loved the steaks, burgers, catfish, friendly atmosphere and the unique community.

Restoration of structures in town began in the late 1990s when a few historic cobblestone cabins were restored by McCoy Development Company, Charley Wright, the Hennessee Family and a few others. Cobblestone Court (a commercial grouping of shops) and the restoration and new construction of numerous cabins and homes on both sides of Medicine Creek, were accomplished through the efforts of McCoy Development Company.

The Park Tavern was opened in 1997 by Bill Patty and his brother in law Tom Zynda. The Tavern was a success and soon became a favorite watering hole for local residents and an icon in Medicine Park’s new found revitalization. Today, it plays hosts to numerous popular annual events.

In 1997, the Old Skating Rink was purchased by David Lott. The facility had originally been constructed as a dance hall in 1920 but had been re-invented as a Skating Rink in the late 1930s and operated seasonally as Medicine Park Skating Rink on an irregular basis through the late 1970s into the early 1980. The Hall hosted numerous concerts 1999-2001 to include Michael Martin Murphey, Rare Earth, Canned Heat, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, Lovin' Spoonful, Iron Butterfly, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, The Byrds, Leon Russell, Head East, Hank Thompson, Byron Berline, Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1964-Beatles Tribute, Amazing Rhythm Aces, and more. In early 2002, with the business growing rapidly, short-term debt financing that couldn’t be refinanced in time caused the business to close. However, the public interest the Hall had generated provided a catalyst, bringing numerous new businesses and other economic successes soon following. This set the Town on its current pattern of growth as it heads into the new century.

Throughout the mid-to-late 1990s residents of Medicine Park implemented numerous improvements and established several subsidiary arms of Town government. These included formation of Medicine Park Economic Development Trust Authority (MPEDA), Medicine Park Planning & Preservation Committee, a new Police Department and an outstanding Volunteer Fire Department. The Fire Department now has a new Fire Station, more than 20 dedicated and trained volunteers, several state-of-the-art fire trucks and fully equipped emergency response vehicles. In addition, business owners and residents established the Medicine Park Merchants Association and the Wichita Mountains Art Council.


Lodging in Medicine Park dates back to the Town's early beginnings when cabins dotted the hillsides. Soon, the Outside Inn and Apache Inn provided a place to stay as the park began to grow. However, in the late 1950’s lodging became virtually non-existEnt as interest in Medicine Park began to decline.

Today Medicine Park has wonderful lodging from historic cabins to Bed & Breakfasts. You will find a variety of accommodations available that provide some of the most charming and scenic lodging you are likely to encounter. For lodging information visit

Wichita Mountains Cobblestone Gazette E-Magazine[edit]

The Wichita Mountains Cobblestone Gazette E-Magazine is a FREE online guide to Medicine Park, the Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway and is an example of the newest trend in magazine publishing today. It can be found at

The e-magazine's intent is to serve as a semi-annual "users manual" to Medicine Park and the area known as The Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway. It is a useful guide for visitors, residents, business owners, newcomers and people who have a current and future interest the Medicine Park, Northwestern Comanche County and Wichita Mountains area.

The e-magazine is presented as a tourism, business & lifestyle periodical through the use of state-of-the-art digital 3D flip-page publishing. This new technology digitally simulates the reading experience of printed publications due to its unique on-screen layout. The magazine is displayed on your computer screen just like a real magazine. You flip turn thru the pages just as you would a printed magazine - but you use your mouse or the embedded page turning icons.

Each issue of the NEW Wichita Mountains Cobblestone Gazette E-Magazine contains numerous feature articles of local interest, loads of history related to the area, and articles about select local lodging, businesses, food and beverage establishments, real estate, the arts, entertainment and more. The e-magazine's table of contents is set up by category. You can easily navigate thru the e-magazine with a simple mouse click.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Gondola Lake and Dam
  • Lake Lawtonka Dam
  • Lake Drive
  • The White Deer
  • Spirit of Survival Marathon
  • Old Plantation
  • Veterans Monument
  • Sanders House
  • Buffalo Sculpture
  • Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
  • Lake Lawtonka
  • Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area
  • Fort Sill, 580-442-5541.
  • Meers
  • The Tour de Meers is held here annually. 580-429-8051
  • Museum of the Great Plains, Red River Trading, Post, Lawton, 580-581-3460, [3]/
  • Fort Sill Museum, Lawton, 590-442-5123.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Bath Lake Swimming Area
  • Medicine Park Trail
  • Trout Fishing

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Medicine Park Trading Company - Online Store & Gallery, [4].
  • Chaps My Ass, 580-529-2248, [5],
  • Cobblestone Forge, 580-529-3081.
  • Cobblestone Galleries, 580-529-2296.
  • Medicine Park Ice Cream & Candy Company, 580-529-3340, [6].
  • Charley’s Angel Shop, 580-529-3338, [7].
  • Rusty Buffalo, 580-529-3015, [8].
  • The Laughing Lizard Trading Post, 580-574-1318.
  • Lulabelle's Gourmet Food, 580-704-9557.
  • Purple Parrot, 580-529-0000.
  • Happy Hollow Hwy 49., 580-529-2817.
  • Scentz,580-529-2454, [9].
  • Uncommon Findings, 580-529-3103, [10].

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Riverside Café, 580-529-2626.
  • Winery of the Wichitas, 580-529-2351, [11].
  • Fishermen's Cove, 580-529-2672, [12].
  • Buffalo Bistro, 580-529-2351, [13].

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • AP’s Club Hwy. 49, 580-529-2260.
  • Park Tavern, 580-529-2555, [14].
  • Winery of the Wichitas, 580-529-2351, [15].


  • Stardust Inn, +1 580-529-3270, [1]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Bed and breakfast. $145/165 (Queen/King).  edit
  • Buffalo Gap, 580-647-9050, [16].
  • The Twins, Red Door & Green Door, [17].
  • Cobblestone Cottage, 580-704-9557, [18].
  • Colonel Kruger's Cabin, 405-623-2128, [19].
  • Grandma's Cabin, 580-529-3081, [20].
  • Medicine Creek Lodging, 580-529-2248, [21].
  • Medicine Park Cabin, 580-678-4864, [22].
  • Medicine Park Lodging, 580-529-2182, [23].
  • Wichita Mountain Lodge, 580-574-8773, [24].

Get out[edit]

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