Friday, September 21, 2018

Canadian Oklahoma Arrowhead State Park

We left Bardwell Lake and headed north into Oklahoma. Arrowhead State Park is located on the shores of Lake Eufaula, about 2 hours east of Oklahoma City in the small town of Canadian; Population 239. Most visitors come to this area engage in recreational activities, mostly boating and fishing, but the State Park includes an 18 hole golf course. Lake Eufaula is Oklahoma's largest lake with over 600 miles of shoreline. Every year fishing tournaments are held at the lake generating nationwide coverage. The Lodge at Lake Arrowhead State Park is owned and run by the Choctaw Indian Nation. Welcome to Oklahoma!

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but this awesome chair belongs to the Choctaw Nation and provides abundant seating for Jasmine and me.

We arrived at Arrowhead State Park. The on-site golf course is an 18 hole, par 72 course and includes a putting green, driving range and a full service pro shop. Green fees are $20 which includes the cart fee.

There are three different campgrounds at Arrowhead. We booked into the newest one which consisted of very large concrete pads and lots of room between them.  Our pad was almost 90'! I hadn't put out our slides yet as I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted to put the coach on the pad.

With a population just shy of 240 people, Canadian, Ok can be missed with a blink of the eye, so we decided to head to the 'big city', Fort Smith, Arkansas, which is on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Located where the Arkansas and Poteau rivers combine, the City was established as a Fort in 1817. At the time, this area was a major hub for the Indians who used the river system for trading and transportation.

Due to it's location, almost dead center in the United States, Fort Smith became a well known for migrant settlers heading west. It was named after General Thomas Adams Smith, who interestingly never visited this town nor the fort that bears his name. Fort Smith was originally built to calm hostilities between the Cherokee and Osage Indian tribes.

Fort Smith was abandoned by Union troops at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. It was subsequently occupied by the Confederacy and saw it's share of battles.

Over 400 Confederate troops were killed and buried at Fort Smith. In 1863, the Union retook control of the fort. In 1897, the post cemetery became a National Cemetery when many of the casualties of nearby battlefields were exhumed and reinterred here. The cemetery includes over 1400 unmarked graves of both Union and Confederate troops. It also includes the grave of Isaac Parker, the "Hanging Judge"


Fort Smith was originally built in 1817 to keep peace between the Cherokee and Osage Indians. Only 7 short years later it was determined to be too far away from the newly defined Indian territory, Oklahoma. so it was abandoned in 1824. Three short years later, though, the troops returned as the fort was to be used as a clearing house for the Choctaw Indians as the Indians were forced to move westward into Indian territory. As the federal government continued forcing the Indians westward, Fort Smith became a supply depot, both for troops who were stationed in the area and the Indians as they moved west. For the next 25 years, Fort Smith became the hub from which the Indians were relocated and supplies and ammunition for the troops were dispensed. In 1838 and 39, as part of President Jackson's Indian removal policy, Indians east of the Mississippi were forced to move west into what is now Oklahoma. This migration is now known as the "Trail of Tears" due to the devastating effect the migration proved to be on the Indian nations.

Earlier, I mentioned Judge Isaac Parker. Judge Parker is buried in the National Cemetery in Fort Smith.  During his tenure on the bench, Judge Parker presided over 13,490 cases. Of these, slightly over 8,500 defendants either pled or were found guilty of their crimes. Parker sentenced 160 people to their death; 79 were executed earning Judge Parker the nickname of the "Hanging Judge" These are the actual gallows where many of these criminals spent their last few seconds on earth.

Here, and the picture below, you can see the Arkansas river as it flows through the Fort Smith area. The Arkansas river was important in the settling of this area of the country. It was used for transportation of supplies and goods into Fort Smith to be sent to the surrounding communities and areas. This section is located on the west portion of Fort Smith near where the Trail of Tears ends. From here, the Indians were assigned their new homes in what is now present day Oklahoma.


  1. As Tulsans and native Oklahomans we enjoyed your post on Arrowhead State Park. Hopefully if you travel this way again you will discover some of Oklahomas treasures. Enjoy your blog.

    1. Thank you. We love Oklahoma-except for the gnats. :)