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Long Lake Resort: Southeast Oklahoma's Hidden Gem

Eric Standridge is a historian and author who focuses on Oklahoma's history, with an emphasis on LeFlore County and Poteau.


Long Lake Resort Lodging and Attractions

Long Lake Resort is one of Oklahoma's best-kept secrets and one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Oklahoma. There's a quiet tranquility here that soothes the soul with a touch of excitement that is sure to thrill the adventurous spirit.

If you're looking for local attractions in Southeast Oklahoma, stop in at Long Lake Resort's tourist information center, where you'll find maps and brochures of different things to do. While you're there, check out their large gift shop featuring many Oklahoma-made arts.

Lodging includes honeymoon/couple's cabins, two-bedroom cabins, several duplex units, and a large RV park.


They offer a large variety of things to do there, including fishing, boat rentals, canoeing/kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, archery, hiking trails, archery, and several outdoor games. Specifically for the kids, there's a newly installed splash pad and playground just across from the duplex cabins. Special activities may also be scheduled throughout the year, such as hayrides and trail tours.

Event Venue

Long Lake Resort is also the perfect place to host your next event. A large pavilion is a centerpiece of the resort. Nestled along the bank of the lake, it provides a beautiful setting for weddings, birthdays, and other special events. If you're looking for a smaller indoor venue, there is a large meeting hall above the tourist information center.

As a family-owned business, they are focused on providing exceptional service.


The Bald Cypress Grove

Massive bald cypress trees dot the banks of both Long Lake and Terrell Lake, which is one of the resort's most unusual and stunning features. Bald cypress trees are usually associated with the swampy bayous of Louisiana or deep in the Florida Everglades.

When first arriving at Long Lake, it almost feels like you're stepping into a different world. These trees almost appear to be walking on the water. Large flared trunks and knobby knees hover close to the bank's edge, providing sanctuary for bass and other fish found in the lake. During spring and fall, they are a beautiful sight to behold as they change colors from bright green to vivid orange and rustic red.

Mature bald cypress trees can reach eighty to one hundred feet in height and can be as large around as five feet in diameter. At Long Lake Resort, there are around 100 of these trees. The largest bald cypress is located at the water's edge, just west of the bridge. They measure around 50 feet high and 24 inches thick.

The first two bald cypress trees were planted at Long Lake by James Etter in 1928 after moving to the area from DeQueen, Arkansas. Another 200 were planted in 1952, most of which still survive. James Etter was the grandfather of James Kidd, a prominent Poteau resident and city leader.


The Twin Lakes at Long Lake Resort

Both Long Lake and Terrell Lake were formed hundreds of years ago by the meandering Poteau River. The Poteau River is 141 miles long and is the only river in Oklahoma that flows north. It is among the very few in the world that does.

Long Lake is an oxbow lake. These naturally occurring crescent-shaped lakes are formed alongside winding rivers. As the Poteau River meandered through the decades, it left behind both Terrell and Long Lakes. Terrell Lake is noted as an abandoned meander since it doesn't have the distinctive crescent shape that Long Lake has.

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Oxbow lakes are formed in river bends. As the water on the inside of the loop moves more slowly, silt builds up along the banks. On the outside, the faster-moving water causes the river channel to grow wider by eroding the banks on that side. Over time, this causes the ends of the river to be "pinched together," forming an oxbow lake. This also causes the river channel to change course, forming abandoned meanders, such as Terrell Lake.

Not only is this fascinating from a geological point of view, but it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Poteau River.

Before the river was altered by the railroads and the Kerr Navigation Channel was built, the Poteau River was once a major navigation channel. Large steamboats would make their way from Ft. Smith up the Poteau River to places like Poteau and Monroe. In the Monroe area, loggers would use the river to drive logs to the railroads in Ft. Smith. Both Long Lake and Terrell Lake show how this was possible.

By looking at the twin lakes, you can easily imagine how this was once part of the Poteau River. The lakes show how wide the river was before it was altered.


A Brief History of Long Lake

While much of the history surrounding the twin lakes at Long Lake Resort is lost, many fascinating facts about the land can still be found.

Amos S. Beard was the original owner of the land surrounding Long Lake. He was born in 1888 and died in 1913 at only 25 years old. He was 1/64th Choctaw.

His parents, John G. Beard and Julia Ann Merryman, were originally from the Skullyville area. Julia Ann most likely descends from those who came over on the Trail of Tears. John and Julia Ann were allotted 211.16 acres from the Choctaw Nation. Amos S. Beard received a portion of that, which included Long Lake, after his parents' deaths.

The original Merryman Homestead was located outside of Skullyville. After the allotments and marriage to John G. Beard, they established a new home near Long Lake.

The land was sold by Amos S. Beard on December 13, 1905, when he was just 17 years old. His father had passed on five years earlier. It can be assumed that the land was sold to cover debts.

E. R. Goode and E. E. Daniel took ownership of the land in 1905. E. R. Goode was president of the Bank of LeFlore, as well as a Constable of the Indian Territory. As constable, E. R. Goode had full legal authority to handle criminal and/or civil matters. E. E. Daniel was a banker at the bank of LeFlore. He also served in the post office through the Mail Messenger Service. E. E. Daniel's wife, Maggie, was also listed as a property owner.

Their role was simply as titleholders to the land. They held ownership until 1911 when the northern portion of the land was sold to James Monroe Dennis.

James M. Dennis was born in 1875 and died in 1963. He would have been 88 years old. He was originally from Pocahontas, Indian Territory. After purchasing the land in 1911, he established a homestead there and renamed the northern part of Long Lake "Dennis" Lake. He served as treasurer for District 95, LeFlore County Schools.

The southern portion was sold to Morton H. Dawes and his wife Catherine M. Dawes around the same time. Morton H. Dawes was born on Independence Day, 1914 and died on January 3rd, 1992 at 77 years old. Morton was born in Michigan.

The Dawes family sold the property to Ruby and James Park "Jim" Kidd on February 20, 1968. Jim Kidd was co-owner of the Poteau News & LeFlore County Sun, along with his brother, Bob Lee Kidd. In World War II, he served in the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery, achieving the rank of Captain. Following the war, he remained in the Army Reserve, where he received the rank of Major. He co-owned the newspaper from 1947 until 1979.

© 2017 Eric Standridge

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