OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If anyone would know the history of parks and trails in Oklahoma it would be Tom Creider.
On this bright, brisk November morning he chooses Will Rogers Park for its manicured walkways, and its history.
He points out, “These parks all have structures that were built in the 1930’s as part of the New Deal program. The goal was to design structures that blend into the landscape, that didn’t dominate. I mean, they’re works of art.”
Creider himself grew up with the woods out his back door as well as nearby Mohawk Park in north Tulsa.
He graduated OSU with degrees in Forestry and Geography, then landed a job with the State Parks Department in 1973.
“I worked with a lot of wonderful people and for a lot of wonderful people throughout my career,” he insists.
Tom talks a lot about standing on the shoulders of those who came before.
He credits his first bosses and a long line of co-workers, even the landscape architects and CCC crews who built this city park.
“They’re nearly a century old,” suggests a park visitor, “and they’re still in use which is a pretty good investment.”
“That’s right,” Creider agrees. “They’re still serving their purpose, and they’re part of Oklahoma’s heritage.”
Creider retired this year so he gets a little more time to walk these paths and a lot of miles in state parks he helped build.
“But I didn’t do anything solo,” he argues.
He is still a salesman for Oklahoma’s multi-varied landscapes, and a lifelong advocate of the quiet places, or ‘remembered places’ as author M. Scott Momaday called them.
If we look, he says, they’re still there.
Tom builds on the notion.
“It’s a place to reflect on those that went before us, who lived in these places, who built these parks. To me, it’s a connection point.”
Creider says more than 200 miles of trails were added to the state park trail system during his time with the State Parks Dept.