Recreational water activities will always be the top attraction for drawing tourists to Lake Murray. But the sum of its parts is what makes it one of the state's premier summer destinations.
Plans have been made and funding secured for a new lodge, which will begin construction this year. Then you have Tucker Tower.
One of Oklahoma's most visible landmarks recently underwent a renovation and has been reopened to the public. The tower serves as a museum, paying homage to the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built the lake. The Nature Center at Lake Murray has also been completed and is open to the public.
"Our theme is water," Lake Murray Park naturalist Mark Teders said. "Water is extremely important in Oklahoma. We have learned how devastating a drought can be.
"Lake Murray has some of the cleanest water in the state, and we just want to stress how important water is to a state and community. People need to be educated and informed before they can make a rational decision, because water issues will come to a vote in the future."
The nature center offers a glimpse into Lake Murray and the region's past. The geological formations indigenous to the area are presented with rock examples, and the ecology is also presented. Teders also offers numerous classes and presentations throughout the week in a classroom. There are plans for additions to provide an exceptional learning experience.
"When I did programs in the tower, it was in one of the rooms," Teders said. "People are in and out. In the nature center, I have a classroom when I can give the classes. We are working on an audio-visual program as well." Teders said there are plans for a dock to take advantage of learning opportunities using the water. He said there are also plans for fishing and canoeing programs.
Those acquainted with learning at Lake Murray are familiar with Teders, as he has become a mainstay at the lake. He has worked at Lake Murray for 35 years and has provided instruction at the lake to generations of students.
During that time period, he has seen a number of changes and is excited about the reopening of Tucker's Tower after it was closed for a year and a half.
"It opened as a nature center in 1981," Teders said. "We have just had a major renovation. We have always worked on it and we always will work on it. It is an 80-year-old structure made of rock that sits on the lake." The tower has also served as a geological museum, but now pays tribute to the men who built it. The walls on the tower are lined with photos of the lake being built. T here are also time-specific displays paying tribute to the men. Tools and other artifacts used in the project will also be available to the public in glass displays.
"Everybody seems to like it," Teders said. "We usually have a pretty good crowd." The Nature Center at Lake Murray and the Tucker Tower Museum are open 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. The gate closes at 7 p.m. For more information, call (580) 223-2109.