Animals fled from the former
wilderness as dossiers worked in their once private habitat. They invaded
the town of Ponca City during the years the Kaw Dam was being built. There
were foxes, some saw bears, and the roar of a cougar from under a family's
house was a horrific experience. These were the years around 1970. In 1972
we attended a crafts show in Dallas and were seated next to a gentlemen who
was with the Corp of Engineers from Texas. I was painting miniature pieces
and as fast as I could turn them out they were snatched up by people who
were curious about the American Indians in Oklahoma. Of course, the men were
interested in the different crafts our booth was demonstrating from
beadwork, art work and anything associated with regalia.
The day was long and busy but
we still had an opportunity to visit between the twangs of a dulcimer a lady
from Missouri had brought along with her. The instrument was pleasing but
after a day of it we were looking for a way to escape into conversation or
anything to get away from the repetitious, one song she played.
"Our community is working on
bringing in an earthen dam to our area," I told one of the officers.
"Oh? Where is this?" He was
dealing with the dulcimer a bit better than I was.
I stepped up to one of his
maps and outlined the 800 mile waterline as well as I could remember from
the drawings we'd seen in the paper. "The water to our area will be a
wonderful thing. For years we've needed something to raise the water tables
enough to help with wells for the rural people around. I don't know how the
water will be used." I commented. There wasn't anyway it could have been
known the massive lake would provide water for whole cities.
"My uncle is a rancher from a
ranching family and he has been talking about it for years, ever since I was
in high school, in fact. He and all his buddies are promoters. I don't know
what stage the plans that are being formed up are now." I blithely rattled
along to the officer who was in the Corp.
After we returned home from
the crafts show it seemed the work was moving along very rapidly and by 1976
this dam was completed, ready for opening. A dear friend's father, Francis
Pipestem, dedicated the dam with a prayer and a memorial of that prayer
stands at an overlook. It is a wonderful entreaty asking, "that man may be
able to conquer his enemy, not of nations, but that of himself."
The second photograph here
shows the water at this time of July in 2007 almost up to the bottom of the
new Big Snake Bridge. Thirty one years after the opening of the dam have
seen a heavy traffic from tourists who enjoy the great waterline around the
Kaw dam, named after the Kaw tribe of Indians who were worried from many
places until finally settling in this area.
Here is a story about the
opening of The Big Snake Bridge, Ponca City, Oklahoma