Lawton, Oklahoma

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Lawton, Oklahoma
Old Lawton High School.jpg
Lawton City Hall
Comanche County Oklahoma Incorporated areas highlighting Lawton.svg
Location in the state of Oklahoma
USA Oklahoma location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Lawton, Oklahoma
Location in Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°36′15″N98°23′44″W / 34.60417°N 98.39556°W / 34.60417; -98.39556 Coordinates: 34°36′15″N98°23′44″W / 34.60417°N 98.39556°W / 34.60417; -98.39556
State Oklahoma
County Comanche
FoundedAugust 6, 1901
Named for Henry Ware Lawton
  Type Council-manager
   Mayor Stan Booker
   City council
   City Manager Jerry Ihler [1]
   City 210 km2 (81.0 sq mi)
  Land210 km2 (81.0 sq mi)
  Water0 km2 (0 sq mi)
339 m (1,112 ft)
   City 96,867
(2013) [3]
  RankUS: 304th
  Density461.5/km2 (1,195.4/sq mi)
94,457 (US: 312th)
131,089 (US: 300th)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-41850 [4]
GNIS feature ID1094539 [5]
Website City of Lawton

The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the State of Oklahoma. [6] Located in southwestern Oklahoma, about 87 mi (140 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, [7] [8] it is the principal city of the Lawton, Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the 2010 census, Lawton's population was 96,867, making it the fifth-largest city in the state. [9]

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.

Comanche County, Oklahoma County in the United States

Comanche County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 124,098, making it the fourth-most populous county in Oklahoma. Its county seat is Lawton. The county was created in 1901 as part of Oklahoma Territory. It was named for the Comanche tribe.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.


Built on former reservation lands of Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Indians, Lawton was founded on 6 August 1901, and was named after Major General Henry Ware Lawton, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient killed in action in the Philippine–American War. Lawton's landscape is typical of the Great Plains, with flat topography and gently rolling hills, while the area north of the city is marked by the Wichita Mountains.

Indian reservation land managed by Native American tribes under the US Bureau of Indian Affairs

An Indian reservation is a legal designation for an area of land managed by a federally recognized Native American tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than the state governments of the United States in which they are physically located. Each of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States is associated with a particular Native American nation. Not all of the country's 567 recognized tribes have a reservation—some tribes have more than one reservation, while some share reservations. In addition, because of past land allotments, leading to some sales to non–Native Americans, some reservations are severely fragmented, with each piece of tribal, individual, and privately held land being a separate enclave. This jumble of private and public real estate creates significant administrative, political, and legal difficulties.

Kiowa nation of American Indians of the Great Plains

Kiowa people are a Native American tribe and an indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated southward from western Montana into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in the 17th and 18th centuries, and finally into the Southern Plains by the early 19th century. In 1867, the Kiowa were moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma.

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the federally recognized Native American tribe of Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache in Oklahoma.

The city's proximity to Fort Sill Military Reservation gave Lawton economic and population stability throughout the 20th century. [10] Although Lawton's economy is still largely dependent on Fort Sill, it has also grown to encompass manufacturing, higher education, health care, and retail. [11] The city's government is run by a council-manager government consisting of a city manager and a city council headed by a mayor. Interstate 44 and three major United States highways serve the city, while Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport connects Lawton by air. Recreation can be found at the city's many parks, lakes, museums, and festivals. Notable residents of the city include many musical and literary artists, as well as several professional athletes.

Interstate 44 runs diagonally through the U.S. state of Oklahoma, spanning from the Texas state line near Wichita Falls to the Missouri border near Joplin. It connects three of Oklahoma's largest cities, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton. Most of I-44 in Oklahoma is a toll road. In southwestern Oklahoma, I-44 is the H.E. Bailey Turnpike and follows a north–south direction. From Oklahoma City to Tulsa, I-44 follows the Turner Turnpike. As I-44 leaves Tulsa it becomes the Will Rogers Turnpike to the Missouri border. In the Lawton, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa metro areas, I-44 is toll-free.


The land that is present-day Oklahoma was first settled by prehistoric American Indians including the Clovis 11500 BCE, Folsom 10600 BCE and Plainview 10000 BCE cultures. Historic indigenous peoples who inhabited the region included the Wichita and Caddo peoples. In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visited in 1541, beginning European contact. Around the 1700s, two tribes from the north, the Comanches and Kiowas, migrated to the Oklahoma and Texas region. [12]

Clovis culture Prehistoric culture in the Americas

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present at the end of the last glacial period, and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas.

Common Era or Current Era (CE) is one of the notation systems for the world's most widely used calendar era. BCE is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives to the Dionysian BC and AD system respectively. The Dionysian era distinguishes eras using AD and BC. Since the two notation systems are numerically equivalent, "2019 CE" corresponds to "AD 2019" and "400 BCE" corresponds to "400 BC". Both notations refer to the Gregorian calendar. The year-numbering system utilized by the Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world today, and is an international standard for civil calendars.

Folsom tradition Paleo-Indian archaeological culture that occupied much of central North America

The Folsom Complex is a name given by archaeologists to a specific Paleo-Indian archaeological culture that occupied much of central North America. The term was first used in 1927 by Jesse Dade Figgins, director of the Colorado Museum of Natural History.

For most of the 18th century, the Oklahoma region was under nominal French control as Louisiana. The limited interaction between the peoples was based on fur trading. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson brought the area under United States control. In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which removed American Indian tribes from the Southeast and relocated them to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. The southern part of this territory was originally assigned to the Choctaw and Chickasaw. In 1867, the United States used the Medicine Lodge Treaty to allot the southwest portion of the Choctaw and Chickasaw’s lands to the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache tribes. [12] [13]

Louisiana (New France) Administrative district of New France

Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

Louisiana Purchase Acquisition by the United States of America of Frances claim to the territory of Louisiana

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the Louisiana territory of New France by the United States from France in 1803. The U.S. paid fifty million francs ($11,250,000) and a cancellation of debts worth eighteen million francs ($3,750,000) for a total of sixty-eight million francs. The Louisiana territory included land from fifteen present U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The territory contained land that forms Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; the portion of Minnesota west of the Mississippi River; a large portion of North Dakota; a large portion of South Dakota; the northeastern section of New Mexico; the northern portion of Texas; the area of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River ; and small portions of land within the present Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Its non-native population was around 60,000 inhabitants, of whom half were African slaves.

Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of the United States

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

Fort Sill was established in 1869 after the American Civil War by Major General Philip Sheridan, who was leading a campaign in the Indian Territory to stop raids into Texas by American Indian tribes. [14] In 1874, the Red River War broke out in the region when the Comanche, Kiowa, and Southern Cheyenne left their Indian Territory reservation. Attrition and skirmishes by the US Army finally forced the return of the tribes back to Indian Territory in June 1875. [14]

Philip Sheridan United States Army general

General of the Army Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with General-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant, who transferred Sheridan from command of an infantry division in the Western Theater to lead the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac in the East. In 1864, he defeated Confederate forces under General Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley and his destruction of the economic infrastructure of the Valley, called "The Burning" by residents, was one of the first uses of scorched-earth tactics in the war. In 1865, his cavalry pursued Gen. Robert E. Lee and was instrumental in forcing his surrender at Appomattox.

Red River War military campaign launched by the United States Army in 1874 to remove the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native American tribes from the Southern Plains and forcibly relocate them to reservations in Indian Territory

The Red River War was a military campaign launched by the United States Army in 1874 to remove the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native American tribes from the Southern Plains and forcibly relocate them to reservations in Indian Territory. Lasting only a few months, the war had several army columns crisscross the Texas Panhandle in an effort to locate, harass, and capture highly mobile Indian bands. Most of the engagements were small skirmishes in which neither side suffered many casualties. The war wound down over the last few months of 1874, as fewer and fewer Indian bands had the strength and supplies to remain in the field. Though the last significantly sized group did not surrender until mid-1875, the war marked the end of free-roaming Indian populations on the southern Great Plains.

In 1891, the United States Congress appointed a commission to meet with the tribal leaders and come to an agreement allowing white settlement. Years of controversy and legal maneuvering ensued before President William McKinley issued a proclamation on 4 July 1901, that gave the federal government control over 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of surplus Indian land. [15] [16] Under other legislation, the United States through the Dawes Commission allotted communal lands as plots to individual households of tribal members, selling off what remained as "surplus". These actions extinguished the tribal claims to communal lands, a condition needed for the admission of Oklahoma as a state in 1907.

Major-General Henry Ware Lawton General Henry W. Lawton.jpg
Major-General Henry Ware Lawton

After these changes, the legislature of the new state began to organize counties. Three 320-acre sites in Kiowa, Caddo and Comanche counties were selected for county seats, with Lawton designated as the Comanche County seat. The town was named for Major General Henry W. Lawton, a quartermaster at Fort Sill, who had taken part in the pursuit and capture of Geronimo. [17] The city was opened to settlement through an auction of town lots beginning on 6 August 1901, which was completed 60 days later. [18] By 25 September 1901, the Rock Island Railroad expanded to Lawton and was soon joined by the Frisco Line. [19] The first city elections were held 24 October 1901. [20]

The United States' entry into World War I accelerated growth at Fort Sill and Lawton. The availability of 5 million US gallons (19,000 m3) of water from Lake Lawtonka, just north of Fort Sill, was a catalyst for the War Department to establish a major cantonment named Camp Doniphan, which was active until 1922. [21] Following World War II, Lawton enjoyed steady population growth, with the population increasing from 18,055 to 34,757 from 1940 to 1950. [22] By the 1960s, it had reached 61,697. [22]

In the postwar period, Lawton underwent tremendous growth during the late 1940s and 1950s, leading city officials to seek additional water sources to supplement existing water from Lake Lawtonka. In the late 1950s, the city purchased large parcels of land along East Cache Creek in northern Comanche County for the construction of a man-made lake with a dam built in 1959 on the creek just north of U.S. 277 west of Elgin. Lake Ellsworth, named for a former Lawton mayor, soft-drink bottler C.R. Ellsworth, was dedicated in the early 1960s. It offered additional water resources, but also recreational opportunities and flood control along Cache Creek. [23]

In 1966, the Lawton City Council annexed several miles of land on the city's east, northeast, west, and northwest borders, expanding east beyond the East Cache Creek area and west to 82nd Street. [24] [25] On 1 March 1964, the north section of the H. E. Bailey Turnpike was completed, connecting Lawton directly to Oklahoma City, the capital. The south section of the turnpike leading to the Texas border was completed on April 23, 1964. [26] Urban renewal efforts in the 1970s transformed downtown Lawton. A number of buildings dating to the city's founding were demolished to build an enclosed shopping mall. [7]

On 23 June 1998, the city expanded when Lawton annexed neighboring Fort Sill. [27] With the advent of the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005 increasing the size of Fort Sill, Lawton is expected to see continued population and economic growth over the course of the next 20 years. [28]


Lawton is the fifth largest city in Oklahoma, located at 34°36′16″N98°23′45″W / 34.60444°N 98.39583°W / 34.60444; -98.39583 (34.604444 N, 98.395833 W). The city has a total area of 75.1 sq mi (195 km2), all land. [29] Lawton is located approximately 84 mi (135 km) southwest of Oklahoma City. Other surrounding cities include Wichita Falls about 47 mi (76 km) to the south, Duncan about 33 mi (53 km) to the east, and Altus about 56 mi (90 km) to the west. [30]

Lawton lies in an area typical of the Great Plains, with prairie, few trees, and flat topography with gently rolling hills. [31] The region north of the city consists of the Wichita Mountains, including Mount Scott and Mount Pinchot, the area's highest peaks. [32] The area consists mostly of Permian Post Oak Conglomerate limestone on the northern sections of the city. In the south sections of the city, Permian Garber sandstone is commonly found with some Hennessey Group shale. Area creeks including East Cache Creek contain deposits of Quaternary alluvium. To the northwest, the Wichita Mountains consist primarily of Wichita Granite Group from the Cambrian era. [33]


Lawton lies in a dry subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with frequent variations in weather daily, except during the constantly hot and dry summer months. Frequent strong winds, usually from the south or south-southeast during the summer, help to lessen the hotter weather. Northerly winds during the winter can occasionally intensify cold periods. [31]

The average mean temperature for southwest Oklahoma is 61.9 °F (16.6 °C). The summers can be extremely hot; Lawton averages 21 days with temperatures 100 °F (37.8 °C) and above. [34] The winter months are typically mild, though periods of extreme cold can occur. Lawton averages eight days that fail to rise above freezing. [34] The city receives about 31.6 inches (800 mm) of precipitation [34] and less than 3 in (80 mm) of snow annually. [31]

Lawton is located squarely in the area known as Tornado Alley and is prone to severe weather from late April through early June. [35] Most notably, an F4 tornado in 1957, and an F3 tornado in 1979 struck the southern region of the city. [36]

Climate data for Lawton, Oklahoma. (Elevation 1,150ft)
Record high °F (°C)85
Average high °F (°C)51.8
Average low °F (°C)27.1
Record low °F (°C)−11
Average precipitation inches (mm)1.19
Average snowfall inches (cm)1.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)0.30.30000000000.10.7
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center [37]


Historical population
1910 7,788
1920 8,93014.7%
1930 12,12135.7%
1940 18,05549.0%
1950 34,75792.5%
1960 61,69777.5%
1970 74,47020.7%
1980 80,0547.5%
1990 80,5610.6%
2000 92,75715.1%
2010 96,8674.4%
Est. 201694,653 [38] −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [39]
2013 Estimate [3]

As of the census of 2010, 96,867 people, 34,901 households, and 22,508 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,195.4 people per square mile (461.5/km²). The 39,409 housing units averaged 486.3 per square mile (187.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.3% White, 21.4% African American, 4.7% Native American, 2.6% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 3.4% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 12.6% (7.8% Mexican, 2.8% Puerto Rican, 0.3% Panamanian). [40]

Of the 34,901 households, 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were not families. Of all households, 29.4% were made up of individuals, and 2.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was distributed as 24.9% under the age of 18, 15.3% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 108.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,566, and for a family was $50,507. Males had a median income of $36,440 versus $31,825 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,655. About 16.6% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.5% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.


Lawton has one of the highest crime rates in not only Oklahoma, but the rest of the U.S. Violent crimes and property crimes are the most prevalent, with the respective probabilities of being a victim of these crimes being 1 in 102 and 1 in 22. The overall crime rate is Lawton is 56 per 1000 residents. [41]

Economy and workforce

Comanche County Memorial Hospital Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Lawton, OK, US.jpg
Comanche County Memorial Hospital

Lawton is primarily centered on government, manufacturing, and retail trade industries. Lawton MSA ranks fourth in Oklahoma with a gross domestic product of $4.2 billion produced in 2008, with a majority ($2.1 billion) in the government sector. [11] Fort Sill is the largest employer in Lawton, with over 5,000 full-time employees. In the private sector, the largest employer is Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company with 2,400 full-time employees. Major employers in the Lawton area also include: Lawton Public Schools, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, City of Lawton, and Cameron University. Lawton includes two major industrial parks. One is located in the southwest region of town, while the second is located near the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport. [42]

At present, the city of Lawton is undertaking the Downtown Revitalization Project. Its goal is to redesign the areas between Elmer Thomas Park at the north through Central Mall to the south to be more visually appealing and pedestrian friendly to encourage business growth in the area. [43] [44]

Lawton had 35,374 employed civilians as of the 2010 Census, and of them, 49.1% were female. Of the civilian workers, 21,842 (61.7%) were private for-profit wage and salary workers. Of the for-profit wage and salary workers, 659 (1.9% of the total Lawton civilian workforce) were employees of their own corporations. The nonprofit sector had 2,571 (7.3%) private nonprofit wage and salary workers. The government sector included 4,713 (13.3%) federal workers, 2,545 (7.2%) state government workers, and 2,160 (6.1%) local government workers. In addition, the city had 1,634 (4.6%) self-employed workers and unpaid family workers. [45]

Arts and culture

Events and festivals

Lawton is home to many annual attractions, including the Prince of Peace Easter passion play held in the Holy City in the Wichita Mountain Refuge each year on Palm Sunday, continuing to Easter Eve. It continues to be one of the longest-running Easter passion plays in the nation and was the basis for the 1949 movie The Prince of Peace . [46] [47] The passion play was also featured in a documentary called Jesus Town, USA which focuses on a new actor portraying the role of Jesus after the former actor of 8 years retired from the role. [48] The documentary is light-hearted and amusing, but turns slightly serious when he announces to the camera that he had become a Buddhist. He struggles with the decision to tell his fellow castmates and family about his rejection of the Christian church. Many folks are upset about his decision, but he is allowed to continue in the role of Jesus despite his faith.

In May, Lawton Arts for All, Inc hosts the Arts for All Festival. The festival accommodates several judged art competitions, as well as live entertainment. The festival is typically held at Shepler Park. [49] In late September, The International Festival is held in the city. Founded in 1979, the event showcases the many different culture, arts, and music of the community. [50] [51]


Lawton has three public museums. The Museum of the Great Plains is dedicated to natural history and early settlement of the Great Plains. [52] Outdoor exhibits include a replica of the Red River Trading Post, the original Blue Beaver schoolhouse, and Elgin Train Depot with a Frisco locomotive. [53] The Fort Sill Museum, located on the military base of the same name, includes the old Fort Sill corral and several period buildings, including the old post guardhouse, chapel, and barracks, as well as several artillery pieces. [54] The old fort is also designated as a National Historic Landmark. [55] The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, operated by the Comanche Nation Tribe, focuses on exhibits and art relating to the Comanche culture past and present. The museum also hosts traveling American Indian exhibitions from the Smithsonian Institution, Michigan State University Museum, and Chicago's Field Museum. [56]


Lawton is home to Cameron University, which is a NCAA Division II school in the Lone Star Conference. Noted for winning the NAIA Football National Championship in 1987, the school currently does not have a football program. However, Cameron remains competitive in 10 varsity sports, including Men's and Women's Basketball, Baseball, and Softball. [57] [58]

Lawton was the former home to the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry. The Cavalry moved in 2007 from Oklahoma City to Lawton, where they won two Continental Basketball Association championships and a Premier Basketball League championship. [59] [60] In 2011, the Cavalry ceased operations in their second year in the PBL. [61]

Parks and recreation

A view of Mt Scott Mt scott lawton ok.jpg
A view of Mt Scott

Lawton is home to 80 parks and recreation areas in varying sizes, including the largest Elmer Thomas Park. [62] Along with the park system, the city is near three major lakes, Lake Lawtonka, Lake Ellsworth, and Elmer Thomas Lake, where boating, swimming, camping, and fishing are permitted. [63] The Lawton branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) offers a wide variety of recreational programs to members, and the Lawton Country Club maintains an 18 hole, par 71 golf course. [64] [65] Recreation can also be found in many amateur leagues, including: adult softball, youth baseball, soccer, softball, and volleyball. [66]

Northwest of the city is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the natural fauna of southwest Oklahoma. The refuge includes a Visitor Center, several camping areas, hiking trails, and many lakes for the public to explore. [67]


City government: [68]
MayorFred L. Fitch "Mayor's Office".
Ward 1Robert Morford III "Robert Morford". Archived from the original on 2019-01-13. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
Ward 2Keith Jackson "Keith Jackson".
Ward 3Caleb Davis "Caleb Davis".
Ward 4Jay Burk "Jay Burk".
Ward 5Dwight Tanner, Jr "Dwight Tanner".
Ward 6Sean Fortenbaugh "Sean Fortenbaugh".
Ward 7Onreka Johnson "Onreka Johnson".
Ward 8Randy Warren "Randy Warren".

Lawton uses the council-manager model of municipal government. The city's primary authority resides in the City Council, which approves ordinances, resolutions, and contracts. The city is divided into eight wards, with each ward electing a single city council representative for a three-year term. [68] The mayor, who is elected every three years, presides and sets the agenda of the City Council, but is primarily ceremonial as a head of government. [69] The administrative day-to-day operation of the city is headed by the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council. [70] As of August 2016, the Mayor of Lawton was Fred L. Fitch. As of July 2015, the City Manager was Gerald (Jerry) S. Ihler. [68] [71]

Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, and houses county offices and courts. Three elected commissioners serving four-year terms manage the county government. [72]

At the federal level, Lawton lies in Oklahoma 4th Congressional District, represented by Tom Cole. [73] [74] In the State Senate, Lawton is in District 31 (Chris Kidd) and 32 (John Michael Montgomery). [75] [76] In the House, District 62 (Daniel Pae), 63 (Trey Caldwell), and 64 (Rande Worthen) cover the city. [77] [78]


Higher education

Cameron University Cameron university sign.jpg
Cameron University

Cameron University is the largest four-year, state-funded university in southwest Oklahoma, offering more than 50 degree programs in areas of Business, Education, Liberal Arts, and Science and Technology. [79] Founded in 1909, Cameron has an average fall enrollment of 6,000 students with 70 endowed faculty positions. [80] Other colleges in Lawton include Comanche Nation College. Founded in 2004, the college provides lower-division programs and educational opportunities in higher education for the Comanche Nation and the public. [81] [82]

Lawton is also served by the Great Plains Technology Center, which is part of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education system. Great Plains provides occupational education, training, and development opportunities to area residents. [83]

Primary and secondary schools

Lawton Public Schools serves most of the city of Lawton. The district operates two prekindergarten centers, 24 elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools – Eisenhower, Lawton, and MacArthur. [84] In 2008, Lawton Public Schools had an enrollment of about 16,000 students with about 1,000 teachers. [85] Two independent districts, Bishop and Flower Mound, serve portions of Lawton. Bishop operates a single PK–6 elementary campus and Flower Mound has a PK–8 campus. Secondary students living in these districts attend Lawton Public Schools. A small portion of far-west Lawton is served by Cache Public Schools. [86]

Other schools in Lawton include St. Mary's Catholic School, which has both elementary and middle schools. St. Mary's has served the greater Lawton area and the Fort Sill community for over 100 years and offers accredited Catholic education for grades pre-K through eighth grade. [87] Trinity Christian Academy, Lawton Academy of Arts & Science, and Lawton Christian School are three other private schools. Trinity Christian Academy offers classes from K–3 through the eighth grade. [88] Lawton Academy of Arts & Science, and Lawton Christian has the city's only two private independent high schools. Lawton Christian, founded in 1976, offers education from prekindergarten through the 12th grade, and has a student body of 426 students. [89]


The Lawton Constitution , the only daily newspaper published in Lawton, has a circulation of 30,000. In addition, the Fort Sill newspaper, The Cannoneer, is published weekly primarily for military personnel, as well as the newspaper The Cameron Collegian, whose main audience is Cameron University students. [90] Additionally, Okie Magazine is a monthly magazine that focuses on news and entertainment in the Southwest Oklahoma area. [91]

Radio stations in Lawton include two AM stations – CBS Sports Radio affiliate KKRX (1380) and urban adult contemporary station KXCA (1050) – and 15 FM stations – including NPR member KCCU (89.3), country stations KFXI (92.1) and KLAW (101.3), rock music station KZCD (94.1), Hot AC station KMGZ (95.3), urban contemporary outlet KJMZ (97.9), and CHR station KVRW (107.3). [90]

"Lawton Living Magazine". With You in Mind Publications. is a free magazine distributed throughout Lawton and Duncan with stories, historical pieces, pictorials, and articles describing philanthropic individuals or organizations; an online version of magazine available through Amazon.

Lawton is part of a bi-state media market that also includes the nearby, larger city of Wichita Falls, Texas; the market, which encompasses six counties in southwestern Oklahoma and ten counties in western north Texas, has 152,950 households with at least one television set, making it the 148th-largest in the nation as of the 2016–2017 season, according to Nielsen Media Research. [92] KSWO-TV (channel 7), an ABC affiliate (which also carries affiliations with MeTV and Telemundo on digital subchannels), is the only broadcast television station in the market that is licensed to Lawton, and its local news programming maintains a primary focus on southwestern Oklahoma in its coverage. [93] All other major stations in the area, including KFDX-TV (channel 3; NBC), KAUZ-TV (channel 6; CBS, which is a sister station to KSWO through a shared services agreement but maintains separate operations on the Texas side of the market), and KJTL (channel 18; Fox), are based in Wichita Falls.



Map of Lawton Map of Lawton OK.png
Map of Lawton

Lawton is primarily served by Interstate 44, designated as the H. E. Bailey Turnpike. It connects the city to Oklahoma City to the northeast and to Wichita Falls, Texas, to the south. The city is also connected by US Highway 62, which connects to the regional towns of Altus to the west and Anadarko to the north. Other major thoroughfares include US Highway 277 and 281, which parallels the H. E. Bailey Turnpike to Wichita Falls to the south and leads to regional towns of Anadarko and Chickasha, respectively, to the north, and OK-7, which connects Lawton to Duncan. [94]

Lawton Area Transit System (LATS) provides public transit for both Lawton and Fort Sill. Founded in 2002, LATS had a ridership of 427,088 in 2009, [95] and provides five major routes throughout the city. [96]

By air, Lawton is served by the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport (LAW, KLAW). At present, it offers daily American Eagle flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and is also used for military transport. [97] [98]

Health care

Lawton has three major hospitals in the area. The largest, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, is a 283-bed nonprofit hospital that employs 250 physicians. [99] Southwestern Medical Center is a 199-bed hospital with a staff of 150 physicians. [100] In addition, the U.S. Public Health Lawton Indian Hospital is located in the city to provide health services for the large American Indian population. It has 26 beds with a staff of 23 physicians. [101]

Notable people

Musicians and authors

Notable musicians from Lawton include country singers Bryan White, [102] Kelly Willis, [103] and Leon Russell, [104] Sissy Brown, and Grammy nominated jazz trombonist Conrad Herwig. [105] [106] Notable authors include Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday, [107] poet Don Blanding, [108] Hugo Award-winning science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh [109] and Christian fiction author Cheryl Wolverton. The late SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg was also born in Lawton.

Political leaders

Among the prominent political leaders from Lawton are: US Senator Thomas Gore, [110] US Representatives Scott Ferris, [111] L. M. Gensman, [112] Elmer Thomas, [113] Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives T.W. Shannon, [114] Democratic State Senator Randy Bass [115] and former US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia Julian Niemczyk (born on Fort Sill). [116] Oklahoma State Supreme Court Justice Fletcher Riley came to Lawton with his parents in 1901 and resided there until going to Oklahoma University in 1916. [117]

Frontier lawman Heck Thomas, who in 1896 captured the outlaw Bill Doolin, the founder of the Wild Bunch gang, spent his later years as the first elected police chief in Lawton.

Gregory A. Miller, an attorney and a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from St. Charles Parish, was born at Fort Sill in 1962, where his father, Ralph R. Miller, was stationed. Ralph Miller was a state representative from St. Charles Parish from 1968 to 1980 and 1982 to 1992. [118]

Other notable residents

Other notable Lawton residents include World War II Comanche code talker Charles Chibitty, [119] Academy Award-winning actress Joan Crawford, [120] WWII ace Robert S. Johnson, [121] actor Paul Sparks, Jesse Dalton from Dalton Gang Outdoors, television personality and producer Paul Harrop, [122] three-time NBA champion Stacey King, [123] former NBA All-Star Michael Ray Richardson, [124] Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson, [125] infamous University of Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson, [126] NFL Pro Bowlers Will Shields [127] and Jammal Brown, [128] 2006 contender, champion boxer Grady Brewer, [129] Buffalo Bisons manager and former MLB infielder Marty Brown, former MLB catcher Tom Jordan, and IFBB professional bodybuilder Vickie Gates. [130]

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Medicine Park, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

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Quanah Parker Native American Indian leader

Quanah Parker was a war leader of the Quahadi ("Antelope") band of the Comanche Nation. He was born into the Nokoni ("Wanderers") band, the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, an Anglo-American, who had been kidnapped as a child and assimilated into the tribe. Following the apprehension of several Kiowa chiefs in 1871, Quanah emerged as a dominant figure in the Red River War, clashing repeatedly with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie. With European-Americans deliberately hunting American bison, the Comanches' primary sustenance, into extinction, Quanah eventually surrendered and peaceably led the Quahadi to the reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry basketball team

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Charles Chibitty Comanche code talker in World War II

Charles Joyce Chibitty was a Native American and United States Army code talker in World War II, who helped transmit coded messages in the Comanche (Nʉmʉnʉʉ) language on the battlefield as a radio operator in the European Theatre of the war.

KSWO-TV, virtual channel 7, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Lawton, Oklahoma, United States and serving the western Texoma area encompassing Southwestern Oklahoma and Western North Texas. The station is owned by Gray Television, which also operates Wichita Falls, Texas-licensed CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV through a shared services agreement (SSA) with owner American Spirit Media. KSWO's studios are located on 60th Street in southeastern Lawton, and its transmitter is located near East 1940 and North 2390 Roads in rural southwestern Tillman County, Oklahoma.

Southwestern Oklahoma

Southwest Oklahoma is a geographical name for the southwest portion of the state of Oklahoma, typically considered to be south of the Canadian River, extending eastward from the Texas border to a line roughly from Weatherford, to Anadarko, to Duncan. Geologically, the region is defined by a failed continental rift known as the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen. The austere nature of the prairie landscape with intermittent island ranges has made it a favorable place for artists and photographers alike. For tourism purposes, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has designated Southwestern Oklahoma as Great Plains Country, and defined it to consist of 14 counties including Roger Mills, Custer, Beckham, Washita, Caddo, Kiowa, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Comanche, Tillman, Cotton, Stephens, and Jefferson counties.

Mount Scott (Oklahoma) mountain in Oklahoma, USA

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Lake Lawtonka lake of the United States of America

Lake Lawtonka is a lake in Comanche County in the state of Oklahoma in the United States.

Comanche Nation College was a two-year, open admissions, American Indian tribal community college. It is located in Lawton, Oklahoma, the capital of the Comanche Nation. The school was chartered by the Comanche Nation Business Committee. Comanche Nation College closed on July 31, 2017.

Elmer Thomas Lake is a lake in Comanche County in the state of Oklahoma in the United States. It is located on the boundary between the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge and Fort Sill military base. The lake is named for an Oklahoma lawyer and politician, Elmer Thomas (1876-1965), who lived in Lawton and represented Oklahoma's 6th Congressional District in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1922 until 1926, then was elected as U.S. Senator, where he served until 1950.

The History of Lawton, Oklahoma refers to the history of the southwestern Oklahoma city of Lawton, Oklahoma. Lawton's history starts with opening of American Indian reservation lands in the early 1900s and has seen population and economic growth throughout the 20th Century due to its proximity with Fort Sill.

Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area

Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area is a statistical entity identified and delineated by federally recognized American Indian tribes in Oklahoma as part of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 Census and ongoing American Community Survey. Some of these areas are also formally recognized as reservations, while the reservation status of others is less certain. Many of these areas are also designated Tribal Jurisdictional Areas, areas within which tribes will provide government services and assert other forms of government authority.

Marie C. Cox

Marie C. Cox (1920-2005) was a Comanche activist who worked on legislation for Native American children. She received many accolades for her efforts including the 1974 Indian Leadership Award from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and state recognition that same year as the Outstanding Citizen of Oklahoma from Governor David Hall. She was named as an Outstanding Indian Woman of 1977 by the North American Indian Women's Association, and served on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education from 1983 to 1990. In 1993, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame for her work with foster children and the founding of the North American Indian Women’s Association.

Josephine Myers-Wapp

Josephine Myers-Wapp was a Comanche weaver and educator. After completing her education at the Haskell Institute, she attended Santa Fe Indian School, studying weaving, dancing, and cultural arts. After her training, she taught arts and crafts at Chilocco Indian School before joining the faculty of the newly opened Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. She taught weaving, design, and dance at the Institute, and in 1968 was one of the coordinators for a dance exhibit at the Mexican Summer Olympic Games. In 1973, she retired from teaching to focus on her own work, exhibiting throughout the Americas and in Europe and the Middle East. She has work in the permanent collection of the IAIA and has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution. Between 2014 and 2016, she was featured in an exhibition of Native American women artists at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.


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