Grand Lake, Oklahoma Is On the Way Up
When Lake of the Ozarks is overrun with partiers, and Branson’s faded stars look creakier than ever, it’s time to contemplate one of America’s most overlooked and yet most enjoyable recreation areas. Grand Lake, Oklahoma, sits prettily in green and rolling hills, near the northeastern corner of the state. Here, in a friendly atmosphere that’s safe for the whole family, a network of communities has grown around a body of fresh water whose surface covers almost 50,000 acres.
Created by one of the longest arch dams in the world, Grand Lake was first suggested by Cherokee tribe member Henry Holderman in the early years of the twentieth century. Holderman’s far-seeing vision suggested that a dam at this location would provide electric power to the Cherokee Nation, and to this end he launched a lobbying effort as early as 1907. Dam construction began in 1938 and was completed in 1940, with all work being done by members of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration or WPA. When the Pearl Harbor attack plunged this country into war, the U.S. government commandeered the dam for the war effort, returning it to the local authorities in 1946.
Surrounding Grand Lake, the communities of Delaware County have much to offer local residents and newcomers, with good schools being a big part of the package. At Cleora Lower Elementary, for example, 100% of third-graders met state goals in math, while 100% of sixth-graders scored at the goal level or higher in both reading and math. Professional, managerial and similar white-collar jobs attract the largest number of citizens, with production and construction close behind. Surprisingly perhaps, given Oklahoma’s rural image, only 1.8% of residents in 2000 were employed in farming and agriculture.
In addition to fishing, sailing, and boating, the area is rich in wildlife including bald eagles, foxes, raccoons, and deer with an abundance of birdwatching. Golf is a MUST at Grand Lake with courses located in nearly every community, and local football teams draw passionate fans every fall.
As a resort or retirement destination, Grand Lake Oklahoma is surging with interest. A mild four-season climate, walkable downtowns, and outstanding health care facilities such as Integris Grove Hospital are just a few reasons for this influx. The Grand Lake area is easy to reach from Joplin and Tulsa, and is roughly equidistant from the urban centers of Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and Kansas City. Birding is extraordinary, while bass-fishing and other tournaments take place on the lake every year.
Unlike elsewhere in the U.S., real estate in Grand Lake Oklahoma communities never experienced boom-and-bust. Huge waterfront properties, with docks, boathouses, and substantial acreage, are still available for mid-to-high six figures, while middle-class homes go for several hundred thousand dollars less than their equivalents in other states. Smart vacationers and investors know that Grand Lake Oklahoma is shaping up to be a win-win.
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