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.
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.
The Canadian River is the longest tributary of the Arkansas River in the United States. It is about 906 miles (1,458 km) long, starting in Colorado and traveling through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and Oklahoma. The drainage area is about 47,700 square miles (124,000 km2).
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Anchored by Lawton, its largest city, Southwest Oklahoma's other important urban centers include Elk City, Clinton, Weatherford, Walters, Altus, and Duncan.
The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the State of Oklahoma. Located in southwestern Oklahoma, about 87 mi (140 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, 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.
Elk City is a city in Beckham County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 11,693 at the 2010 census, and the population was estimated at 12,717 in 2015. Elk City is located on Interstate 40 and Historic U.S. Route 66 in western Oklahoma, approximately 110 miles (180 km) west of Oklahoma City and 150 miles (240 km) east of Amarillo, Texas.
Clinton is a city in Custer and Washita counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The population was 9,556 at the 2015 census.
One section of the 1890 Organic Act established that a lawsuit should be filed to clarify the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1896 that what had been considered part of Texas would now be part of Oklahoma Territory. The area makes up the southwestern corner of Oklahoma and today consists of Beckham County, Harmon County, Jackson County, and Greer County.
Beckham County is a county located on the western border of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,119. Its county seat is Sayre. Founded upon statehood in 1907, Beckham County was named for J. C. W. Beckham, who was Governor of Kentucky and the first popularly elected member of the United States Senate from Kentucky. Beckham County comprises the Elk City, OK Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Harmon County is a county located in the southwest corner of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,922, making it the second-least populous county in Oklahoma, behind only Cimarron County. It has lost population in every census since the first in 1910, except 1930. The county seat is Hollis.
Jackson County is a county located in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 26,446. Its county seat is Altus. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the county was named for two historical figures: President Andrew Jackson and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. One source states that the county was named only for the former President, while an earlier source states it was named only for General Stonewall Jackson.
Another portion of Southwestern Oklahoma was opened up through the Land Run of 1892. Land formerly owned by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes became Oklahoma Territory and today includes Blaine County, Dewey County, Custer County, and Roger Mills County and Washita County.
The Land Run of 1892 was the opening of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation to settlement in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. One of seven in Oklahoma, it occurred on April 19, 1892, and opened up land that would become Blaine, Custer, Dewey, Washita, and Roger Mills counties. The land run also opened up what would become part of Ellis County, but was designated County "E" and then Day County prior to statehood.
The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.
Blaine County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,785. Its county seat is Watonga. Blaine County is the birthplace of voice actor Clarence Nash, the voice of Disney's Donald Duck.
Consisting of grassland and gently rolling hills, Southwest Oklahoma is atypical to the rest of the Great Plains region of the United States, as it is less dry than adjacent West Texas and contains many geographic features which further differentiates the unique climate. The area has a humid subtropical climate, receiving anywhere from about 20 inches of precipitation annually in the far west, to 35 inches annually in the eastern section.Monsoon-like rains are common in the spring months, while periods of drought can occur throughout other parts of the year.
The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:
West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semiarid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.
A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. While many subtropical climates tend to be located at or near coastal locations, in some cases they extend inland, most notably in China and the United States, where they exhibit more pronounced seasonal variations and sharper contrasts between summer and winter, as part of a gradient between the more tropical climates of the southern coasts of these countries and the more continental climates of China and the United States’ northern and central regions.
The region has several small, sky island mountain ranges, the largest of which being the Wichita Mountains, considered by geologists to be one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. The term originally referred to those found near the southern borders of Arizona and New Mexico, and has extended to similarly isolated high-altitude forests. The isolation has significant implications for these natural habitats. The American Southwest region began warming up between ∼20,000–10,000 years BP and atmospheric temperatures increased substantially, resulting in the formation of vast deserts that isolated the Sky Islands. Endemism, altitudinal migration, and relict populations are some of the natural phenomena to be found on sky islands.
The Wichita Mountains are located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is the principal relief system in the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen, being the result of a failed continental rift. The mountains are a northwest-southeast trending series of rocky promontories, many capped by 500 million-year old granite. These were exposed and rounded by weathering during the Pennsylvanian & Permian Periods. The eastern end of the mountains offers 1,000 feet (305 m) of topographic relief in a region otherwise dominated by gently rolling grasslands.
The region is known for its many rare, relic plant species, acting as the northern and western boundaries for many iconic plant species such as the escarpment live oak, nolina, bigtooth maple, and sugar maple.
Significant geographic landmarks include the Black Kettle National Grassland, the Taovayan Valley, the Wichita Mountains, the Antelope Hills, and the Quartz Mountains.
Southwestern Oklahoma has a humid subtropical climate with frequent variations in weather.
The average mean temperature for Southwestern Oklahoma is 61.9 °F (16.6 °C). The summers have an average 21 days with temperatures 100 °F (37.8 °C) and above. The area averages eight days that fail to rise above freezing. The region receives about 31.6 inches (800 mm) of precipitation.
Typically in late April through early June, Southwestern Oklahoma is prone to severe weather which can include tornadoes.Notably in 1957, an F4 tornado and again in 1979 an F3 tornado struck the southern region of Lawton.
Southwestern Oklahoma's economy is anchored in the United States Armed Forces and agriculture, manufacturing, and energy industries. Two military bases, Fort Sill in Lawton and Altus Air Force Base, are large employers in the region. Cattle is a major agricultural product of the region. Wind farms and oil and gas companies are other major employers in the region.
Southwestern Oklahoma is home to both public and private primary and secondary schools, though there are fewer private schools than in other parts of the state, such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
The Oklahoma public school system is known for its pre-kindergarten education. The National Institute for Early Education Research rated it first in the United States with regard to standards, quality, and access to pre-kindergarten education in 2004, calling it a model for early childhood education.In 2004, the state ranked 36th in the nation for the relative number of adults with high school diplomas, though at 85.2 percent, it had the highest rate among southern states.
Private schools in the Southwestern Oklahoma include Western Oklahoma Christian School in Clinton and Corn Bible Academy in Corn.
Cameron University is the largest four-year, public university in Southwestern Oklahoma.The university has an average fall enrollment of 6,000 students with 70 endowed faculty positions.
The region is also home to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, a public university with locations in Weatherford and Sayre. It was placed at Tier 1 in the category "Regional Universities (West)" in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report.SWOSU has 15 nationally accredited academic programs—the most among Oklahoma's senior regional universities.
The Comanche Nation College in Lawton provides lower division programs.
The region is also served by the Great Plains Technology Center and Western Technology Center, both of which are part of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education System.
Washita County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,629. Its county seat is New Cordell. The county seat was formerly located in Cloud Chief. The county was created in 1891.
Kiowa County is a county located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,446. Its county seat is Hobart. The county was created in 1901 as part of Oklahoma Territory. It was named for the Kiowa people.
Custer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 27,469. Its county seat is Arapaho. The county was named in honor of General George Armstrong Custer.
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.
Caddo County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,600. Its county seat is Anadarko. Created in 1901 as part of Oklahoma Territory, the county is named for the Caddo tribe who were settled here on a reservation in the 1870s. Caddo County is immediately west of the seven-county Greater Oklahoma City metro area, and although is not officially in the metro area, it has many economic ties in this region.
Weatherford is a city in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 10,833 at the 2010 census.
Altus is a city and the county seat in Jackson County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 19,813 at the 2010 census, a loss of 7.7 percent compared to 21,454 at the 2000 census.
Lake Altus-Lugert, also known as Lake Altus and Lake Lugert is a reservoir located on the North Fork Red River, about 17 miles (27 km) north of Altus, Oklahoma on the former site of the town of Lugert, Oklahoma. The river is the boundary between Greer County and Kiowa County, Oklahoma. The lake is used for fishing, boating, swimming, and irrigation. However, toxic blooms of golden algae killed off nearly all adult fish early in 2013, making it unsuitable for fishing, temporarily. Heavy rains in 2015 ended an 8-year drought and refilled the lake with water. This is also the principal water supply for Altus.
The Quartz Mountains are an extension of the Wichita Mountains in the far southwestern part of the state of Oklahoma. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the range was originally formed about 550 million years ago as a "failed continental rift". It was uplifted about 300 million years ago and has since weathered into its current condition. The unique geography provides cover for the most northerly population of live oak, quercus fusiformis. This rare oak is generally regarded as the most cold hardy evergreen oak.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are a united, federally recognized tribe of Southern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne people in western Oklahoma.
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.
A Wind Advisory is generally issued by the National Weather Service of the United States when there are sustained winds of 31–39 miles per hour (50–63 km/h) and/or gusts of 46–57 miles per hour (74–92 km/h) over land. The product is site specific, but winds of this magnitude occurring over an area that frequently experiences such wind speeds will not trigger a wind advisory.
Richard Darby is an American lawyer and an Associate Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. On April 5, 2018, Governor Mary Fallin appointed Darby to the Oklahoma Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Joseph M. Watt.