This Oklahoma town got its first electric power in 1910 from a unique hydroelectric project

Great State

ANADARKO, Okla. (KFOR) — The now abandoned building by the water is still such a fixture at Randlett Park that visitors, even the geese on the grass, don’t pay much attention.

But it remains a unique place, dating back to construction in the early years of Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Historians Betty Bell and Lenna White dug through a whole pile of early pictures at the city’s Heritage Museum to find the old power plant as it once was.

Betty reads a quote from a 1909 newspaper article, “The big dam across the Washita RIver is almost finished. The dam is the only construction of its kind in the state.”

The city came to life in 1901 when urban lots were drawn up and sold.

Leaders knew they’d need electric power sooner or later so they found a spot along the Washita River to build a dam and hydroelectric plant.

“It was the town’s first electricity,” Betty says.

All kinds of people came out to look at the project, which took two years to build.

Upon completion, the first turbines generated 300 horsepower.

Reading further, Betty says, “That article says a number of factories are in contemplations because of the power.”

The lake created by the dam became the jewel of Randlett Park.

Pleasure boats took people out on Sunday afternoons.

Betty chuckles, “It was our version of the Branson Queen.”

You might not think it looks like much now but the city’s power came from here clear into the 1980’s.

The old generators even worked after that.

‘The generator we no longer needed was sold to the Braum’s Dairy in Tuttle.”

The Washita River runs a different path these days.

The water here is calm.

The old power plant turbines no longer turn.

But the memories still hum somewhere in the deep background, singing the tune of a city’s wise investment in a unique power source on the plains.

Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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