Ouachita National Forest
The Ouachita National Forest is a National Forest that lies in the western portion of Arkansas and portions of eastern Oklahoma. The Ouachita National Forest is the oldest National Forest in the southern United States; the forest encompasses 1,784,457 acres, including most of the scenic Ouachita Mountains. Six locations in the forest, comprising 65,000 acres, have been designated as wilderness areas. Ouachita is the French spelling of the Indian word Washita, which means "good hunting grounds." The forest was known as Arkansas National Forest on its establishment on December 18, 1907. Rich in history, the rugged and scenic Ouachita Mountains were explored by Europeans in 1541 by Hernando de Soto's party of Spaniards. French explorers followed; the area including the forest nearly became a 165,000-acre national park during the 1920s, but a last-minute pocket veto by U. S. President Calvin Coolidge ended the effort; the bill had been pushed by U. S. Senator Joseph T. Robinson and U. S. Representative Otis Wingo, both Democrats, State Representative Osro Cobb the only Republican in the Arkansas legislature.
Cobb had been invited to meet with Coolidge before the proposal was killed because of opposition from the National Park Service and the United States Department of Agriculture because of the nearby location of Hot Springs National Park. In a magazine article, Cobb describes the area that he had sought to protect for future generations, located midway between Little Rock and Shreveport, Louisiana, as within easy driving distance of 45 million Americans, many of whom could not afford long trips to the national parks in the western states, he compared flora and fauna in the Ouachita forest to those of the southern Alleghenies, a division of the Appalachian Mountains. Cobb continues: A visitor standing upon one of the many majestic peaks in the area of the proposed park is thrilled by a panoramic view that cannot be had elswwhere in the South Central States. With cheeks flushed by the invigorating mountain breezes, the mountain climber is rewarded by an inspring view of countless and nameless peaks, mountain groups, dense forests, inviting valleys, all merging into the distant horizon....
There are many mountain streams, now moving in narrow but deep pools churning with savage ferocity down some water-worn precipice, leaving in its wake snow-white sprays... Fed by crystal springs and like so much molten silver these streams flow their turbulent courses unappreciated and visited.... The Forest contains extensive woodlands of stunted Northern Red Oak, White Oak, Post Oak, Blackjack Oak at elevations over 2,500 feet and on steep, dry slopes; these woodlands, of little commercial value, were never logged and the extent of old growth forest within them may total nearly 800,000 acres. There are old-growth woodlands of Eastern Redcedar, Gum Bumelia, Winged Elm, Yaupon along some streams. Two wilderness areas are found in the forest, protecting the sections of the forest that have had the least amount of human intervention; the 13,139-acre Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in both Arkansas and Oklahoma and contains significant old-growth forests. The 9,754-acre Upper Kiamichi River Wilderness is located in Oklahoma.
The Talimena Scenic Drive, Highway 1 in Oklahoma and Highway 88 in Arkansas, is a National Scenic Byway which meanders through the forest providing amazing vistas and excellent photo opportunities. The Scenic Drive passes through old-growth oak woodlands on Winding Rich Mountains. Forest headquarters are located in Arkansas; the forest contains a number of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding trails. The most extensive hiking trail is the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses 223 miles across the region; this is a well-maintained backpacking, hiking trail with overnight shelters in several portions of the trail. Mountain biking is allowed for some sections of the trail. Camp Clearfork was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Managed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture,it is on Clearfork Lake, about 20 miles west of Hot Springs, Arkansas on U. S. 270. Reservations are required for camping, may be made through the Womble USDA Office at 867-2101; the campground has 6 dorm/cabins.
In the Oklahoma section of the forest the 26,445-acre Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area and six other designated areas offer visitors a full range of activities with more than 150 campsites, a 90-acre lake, an equestrian camp. Southeast of Idabel, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation manages the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, a 5,814 acres wetland area donated to the USFS by The Conservation Fund in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hunting and fishing are allowed there; the area is a destination for birdwatchers from throughout the United States and the United Kingdom as well. Canoeing and fishing are popular activities on the Mountain Fork River, Caddo River, Little Missouri River, Ouachita River within the bounds of the forest; the Cossatot River, said to be the most difficult whitewater river between the Smoky and Rocky Mountains passes through the forest. Rockhounds frequent a belt several miles wide containing concentrations of quartz crystals. Visitors and rock collectors are free to pick up loose crystals within the belt for
McAlester is a city in and the county seat of Pittsburg County, United States. The population was 18,363 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent increase from 17,783 at the 2000 census, making it the largest city in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, followed by Durant. The town gets its name from James Jackson McAlester, an early white settler and businessman who became lieutenant governor of Oklahoma. Known as "J. J.", McAlester married Rebecca Burney, the daughter of a full-blood Chickasaw family, which made him a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. McAlester is the home of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, the former site of an "inside the walls" prison rodeo that ESPN's SportsCenter once broadcast. McAlester is home to many of the employees of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant; this facility makes all the bombs used by the United States military. In 1998 McAlester became the home of the Defense Ammunition Center, which moved from Savanna, Illinois, to McAlester Army Ammunition Plant; the crossing of the east-west California Road with the north-south Texas Road formed a natural point of settlement in Tobucksy County of the Choctaw Nation.
Alyssia Young, who emigrated from Mississippi to the Indian Territory, first established a settlement at the intersection of the two roads in 1838. The town was named Perryville after James Perry, member of a Choctaw family, who established a trading post. At one time Perryville was the capital of the Choctaw County Seat of Tobucksy County. During the American Civil War, the Choctaw allied with the Confederate States of America as the war reached Indian Territory. A depot providing supplies to Confederate Forces in Indian Territory was set up at Perryville. On August 26, 1863, a force of 4,500 Union soldiers crossed the Canadian River and destroyed the Confederate munitions depot at Perryville; this became known as the Battle of Perryville, Indian Territory. Union Major General James G. Blunt, finding the Confederate supplies and realizing that Perryville was a major supply depot for Confederate forces, ordered the town burned; the town never reached its prewar glory or population. After the end of the Civil War in 1865, Captain J. J. McAlester obtained a job with the trading company of Reynolds and Hannaford.
McAlester convinced the firm to locate a general store at Tupelo in the Choctaw Nation. He had learned of coal deposits in Indian Territory during the war while serving as a captain with the 22nd Arkansas Infantry Regiment. At Fort Smith, before going to work with Reynolds and Hannaford, McAlester had received maps of the coal deposits from engineer Oliver Weldon, who served with McAlester during the war. Weldon had worked for the U. S. knew of the coal deposits. Hearing of the railroad plans to extend through Indian Territory and knowing that rich deposits of coal were in an area north of the town of Perryville, McAlester convinced Reynolds and Hannaford that Bucklucksy would be a more suitable and profitable site for the trading post, he constructed a trading post/general store there in late 1869. The Bucklucksy general store was an immediate success, but McAlester recognized an greater opportunity in the abundance of coal deposits in the area, so he began obtaining rights to the deposits from the Choctaws, anticipating the impending construction of a rail line through Indian Territory.
As the first railroad to extend its line to the northern border of Indian Territory, the Union Pacific Railway Southern Branch earned right of way and a liberal bonus of land to extend the line to Texas. Several New York businessmen, including Levi P. Morton, Levi Parsons, August Belmont, J. Pierpont Morgan, George Denison and John D. Rockefeller, were interested in extending rail through Indian Territory, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, familiarly called the Katy Railroad, began its corporate existence in 1865 toward that end. Morton and Parsons selected a site near the Kansas Indian Territory border where they incorporated the settlement of Parsons, Kansas in 1871; that same year, J. J. McAlester, after buying out Reynolds’s share of the trading post, journeyed with a sample of coal to the railroad town in hopes of persuading officials to locate the line near his store at Bucklucksy; the trading post's location on the Texas Road weighed in its favor, given that the Katy line construction followed the Shawnee Trail – Texas Road route south to the Red River.
The line reached Bucklucksy in 1872, Katy Railroad officials named the railway stop McAlester. With the coming of the railroad, businesses in nearby Perryville began relocating to be near the McAlester Rail Depot, marking the end of Perryville and the beginning of McAlester. On August 22, 1872, J. J. McAlester married Rebecca Burney, she was a member of the Chickasaw Nation, which made it possible for McAlester to gain citizenship and the right to own property. McAlester obtained land near the intersection of the north-south and east-west rail lines, where he opened a second general store and continued selling coal to the railroads. In 1885, Fritz Sittle, a Choctaw citizen by marriage and one of the first settlers in the area, urged visiting newspaperman Edwin D. Chadick to pursue the possibility of an east-west rail line to run through the coal mining district at Krebs that would connect with the north-south line at McAlester. Chadick found financing and established the Choctaw Coal and Railway in 1888, but was unable to come to terms with J. J. McAlester over the issue of right of way.
In the 1870s, miners from Pennsylvania arrived in McAlester to work in the coal mines. Miners of Itali
Ada is a city in and the county seat of Pontotoc County, United States. The population was 16,810 at the 2010 census, an increase of 7.1 percent from 15,691 at the 2000 census. The city was named for Ada Reed, the daughter of an early settler, was incorporated in 1901. Ada is home to East Central University, is the headquarters of the Chickasaw Nation. Ada is an Oklahoma Main Street City, an Oklahoma Certified City, a Tree City USA member. In the late 1880s, the Daggs family became the first white family to settle what is now known as Ada, known as Daggs Prairie. In April 1889, Jeff Reed was appointed to carry the mail from Stonewall to Center, two small communities in Indian Territory. With his family and his stock, he sought a place for a home on a prairie midway between the two points, where he constructed a log house and started Reed's Store. Other settlers soon built homes nearby. In 1891, a post office was named after Reed's oldest daughter, Ada. Ada incorporated as a city in 1901 and grew with the arrival of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway line.
Within a decade the Santa Fe Railroad and the Oklahoma Central Railway served the town. Ada was a sundown town, where African Americans were not allowed to live. In the 1900s, the town was opened up to African Americans so that black witnesses could stay while testifying in district court. Despite a violent episode in 1904, the town remained open to African Americans to provide labor for a local cotton compress. In 1909, the women of Ada organized an effort to build a normal school in their city, it resulted in the founding of East Central College. On April 19, 1909, an organized mob hanged four men, among whom was American outlaw Deacon Jim Miller, set to be tried for the murder of a former U. S. marshal and member of the local freemason lodge. The town had a population of about 5,000 at the time, 38 murders a year at the time of the lynching; the Daily Ardmoreite reported that the four lynched men were "one of the bloodiest band of murderers in the state of Oklahoma and an organization of professional assassins, that for a record of blood crimes has no equal in the annals of criminal history in the entire southwest."The first manufacturing company in Ada, the Portland Cement Company, installed the first cement clinker in Oklahoma in 1910.
American Glass Casket Company began manufacturing glass caskets in 1916. Hazel Atlas Glass bought the plant in 1928 and produced glass products until 1991; the following sites in Ada are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Ada Public Library Bebee Field Round House East Central State Normal School Mijo Camp Industrial District Pontotoc County Courthouse Sugg Clinic Wintersmith Park Historic District Ada is located in the rolling hills of southeastern Oklahoma. Ada is 88 miles from Oklahoma City, 122 mi from Tulsa, 133 mi from Dallas, Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.8 square miles, of which 15.7 square miles is land and 0.1 square miles is water. As of the 2010 census, Ada's 16,810 residents consisted of 3,803 families; the population density was 999.3 people per square mile. The 7,862 housing units were dispersed at an average density of 475.9 per square mile. Ada's 2006 racial makeup was 73.81% White, 3.54% African American, 15.10% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, 5.81% from two or more races.
Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2.89% of the population. Of Ada's 6,697 households, 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 43.2% were non-families. The 15.8% of those 65 years or older living alone made up a substantial portion of the 37.1% single-person households. Average household size was 2.20 persons. The age breakdown in 2006 was 22.3% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, 17.0% aged 65 or older. The median age was 33 years; the disparity between the number of males and the number of females seems to be decreasing: for every 100 females aged 18 or over, there were only 84.5 males, but when all females and males were taken into account, there were 100 females for every 88.4 males. Median household income was $22,977, while median family income was $31,805. Males had a median income of $25,223 versus $17,688 for females. Ada's per capita income was $14,666.
Some 14.8% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.8% of those under 18 and 11.4% of those 65 or over. 2,000-3,000 residents speak the Chickasaw language. The economy of Ada is diversified. In the mid and late 20th century, the town was a manufacturing center, producing products such as Wrangler jeans, auto parts and concrete, other products. Since the start of the 21st century, manufacturers have made major investments in expansions and new technology. In 1975, the Chickasaw Nation opened its headquarters in Ada. Revenues for the Nation were over 12 billion dollars in 2011, most of, funneled through Ada; the Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center, a large water research lab staffed by the Environmental Protection Agency, opened in 1966. LegalShield, a multi-level marketing provider of pre-paid legal services, is headquartered in the city. Oil and natural gas are still much a part of the regional economy; the largest employers in the region are the following
Oklahoma's 1st congressional district
Oklahoma's First Congressional District is in the northeastern corner of the state and borders Kansas. Anchored by Tulsa, it is coextensive with the Tulsa metropolitan area, it includes all of Tulsa and Wagoner counties, parts of Rogers and Creek counties. Although it has long been reckoned as the Tulsa district, a small portion of Tulsa itself is located in the 3rd District. Principal cities in the district include Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Sand Springs, Wagoner; the district is represented by Republican Kevin Hern who defeated Democrat Tim Gilpin to fill the opening in the district created when Jim Bridenstine took the top job at NASA. According to U. S. Census data as of 2010, whites alone make up 67.1% of the population, African Americans 9.0%, Native Americans at 6.6%, Hispanics at 9.8%, Asians at 2.1 and other races at 5.4%. The district was the only Congressional district represented by a Republican upon statehood. For much of the district's history, it has shifted forth between the two political parties.
However, it has leaned Republican since the second half of the 20th century. Since 1945, only one Democrat has served more than one term in the district, it has been in Republican hands without interruption since 1987. Mitt Romney received 66 percent of the vote in this district in 2012. Oklahoma's current senior Senator, Jim Inhofe, represented this district from 1987 to 1994, his three successors, Steve Largent, John Sullivan and Jim Bridenstine, have all been Republicans. Oklahoma's congressional districts List of United States congressional districts Martis, Kenneth C.. The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Martis, Kenneth C.. The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Congressional Biographical Directory of the United States 1774–present
U.S. Route 270
U. S. Route 270 is a spur of U. S. Route 70, it runs for 643 miles from Liberal, Kansas at U. S. Route 54 to White Hall, Arkansas at Interstate 530 and U. S. Route 65, it passes through the states of Arkansas and Kansas. It goes through the cities of Oklahoma City, Hot Springs, McAlester, Oklahoma. US 270 begins in the southeast part of Liberal, Kansas, at an intersection with US 83 and US 54. US 270 follows the south leg following US 83 south. US 270 only spends 3 miles in Kansas before crossing into Oklahoma. Seward County is the only Kansas county. US 270 enters Oklahoma in the eastern third of the Oklahoma Panhandle. From here it continues east along US 64 south towards Beaver, the county seat, along SH-23. South of Beaver, the road joins with US 412 and SH-3, the latter of which US 270 will overlap with through most of northwest Oklahoma. After leaving the Panhandle and picking up US 183 near Fort Supply, the highways turn southwest towards Woodward. US 412 splits away in Woodward. US 270, concurrent with US 183 and SH-3, proceed southeast toward Seiling.
West of Seiling, US 183 splits off to the south, but in Seiling, it is replaced by US 281. The routes continue southwest to Watonga, where US 270/281 turn south along SH-8, while SH-3 continues due east to concur with SH-33. In Geary, US 270 splits off on an independent alignment, looping through Calumet before joining with Interstate 40. US 270 remains concurrent with I-40 from Exit 115 through a distance of 66 miles. US 270, attached to I-40, runs through the core of the Oklahoma City Metro area, passing through the western suburbs of El Reno and Yukon into Oklahoma City proper; the partnership runs just south of Downtown and the Bricktown entertainment district on the Crosstown Expressway. Major interchanges with I-44 and I-35 are found in the city. I-40/US 270 serve two eastern suburbs of Oklahoma City, Del City and Midwest City and form the northern boundary between Midwest City's civilian areas and Tinker Air Force Base. US-270 exits from I-40 on the west side of Shawnee. US 270 serves most of the towns anchoring the area east of Oklahoma City, including Shawnee, Seminole and Holdenville.
It continues southeast to the city of a major southeastern Oklahoma city. It serves many of the small towns east of McAlester, such as Krebs, Bache and Hartshorne. After passing through Hartshorne, the roads curves to the northeast before turning onto a due east course taking it through Wilburton, Red Oak, Wister. In Wister, it turns south, running across Wister Lake's dam, proceeding southeast to Heavener. There, it meets US 59; the town highways head south from Heavener, passing through the Wister Wildlife Management Area before entering the Ouachita National Forest. The route serves as the northern terminus of US 259 near Page; the road squeezes into a valley between Black Fork Mountain and Rich Mountain. In this valley, it crosses the state line into Arkansas. US 270 enters Arkansas with US 59, runs east to Acorn, where it meets US 71; the route travels 15 miles north on US 71 to Y City where it splits off and continues east. The route meets AR 88 in Pencil Bluff and AR 27 in Mt. Ida before heading to Hot Springs.
Entering the city, US 270 meets US 70 southwest of town and runs concurrent with it around Hot Springs using the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway before leaving the freeway and running along Malvern Avenue southeast of the city. US 270 intersects with I-30 just outside Malvern, running a short distance northeast on the freeway before interchanging with the George Hopkins Loop bypass and running south around the city. After meeting with US 67 east of town, the alignment turns east-southeast meeting AR 229 in Poyen and AR 190/AR 291 in Prattsville before crossing paths with US 167 in Sheridan; the route trails east towards Pine Bluff terminating at and interchanging with I-530/US 65 in White Hall. Directly east of this interchange, the highway used to continue along Sheridan Road before terminating at AR 365/Dollarway Road in northwest Pine Bluff; this former section of the route is now signed AR 365 Spur. In Arkansas, US-270 was Highway 6. In Arkansas, it has been proposed that part of AR-51 will become part of US-270.
On I-30's current concurrency with US-270, going east, drivers can take exit 99 and make a right on US-270 East. If drivers make a left when they take exit 99, they must make a left to get on I-30 West/US-270 West because there is no outlet past that; that road has been proposed to be extended to AR-51. This will form the future northern terminus of AR-51; this means that drivers can make a left to get on AR-51 South and will have to make a right to get on US-270 West. US-270 will meet the current US-270. Drivers can make a left to get on the future US-270 Business East and must make a right to get on US-270 West, just like AR-51 did. From east to west, the future US-270 will go through the cities of Rockport and Magnet Cove. U. S. Highway 270B is a 9.4-mile-long business route in Arkansas. It runs through Arkansas. Seminole, Oklahoma. S. 270 to OK-9. This highway is disputed as a state or U. S. highway, as both signs are posted. Magnet Cove, Arkansas Malvern, Arkansas Endpoints of U. S. Highway 270
Talimena Scenic Drive
The Talimena Scenic Drive is a National Scenic Byway in southeastern Oklahoma and extreme western Arkansas spanning a 54.0-mile stretch of Oklahoma State Highway 1 and Arkansas Highway 88 from Talihina, Oklahoma, to Mena, Arkansas. Designated a National Scenic Byway by the America's Byway Program in 2005, the road travels within the Ouachita National Forest along the highest peaks of the Winding Stair Mountains, part of the Ouachita Mountain chain, including the second tallest peak in Arkansas, Rich Mountain, 2,681 feet in elevation. Many of the forests along these ridges, stunted and of little commercial value, were never logged and are old growth; the two-lane road features hiking trails beginning at various points along its stretch and 22 scenic vista pull-outs. There are at least 13% hill grades along the route; the current route opened in 1969 and formed a stretch of what would become Oklahoma State Highway 1. In this case, the number 1 was assigned due to the scenery along the highway.
It was dedicated on June 7, 1970 by Lucy Baines Johnson-Nugent, the daughter of U. S. president Lyndon B. Johnson; the roadway was designated as a National Forest Scenic Byway on February 8, 1989. It was made an Arkansas State Scenic Byway on January 7, 1998, an Oklahoma State Scenic Byway on October 10, 2002; the National Scenic Byway status was conferred on September 22, 2005. Talimena Scenic Drive Association Twisties of the Talimena Drive A Few pictures from a Drive across
Le Flore County, Oklahoma
Le Flore County is a county located along the eastern border of the U. S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 50,384, its county seat is Poteau. The name honors. Le Flore County is part of AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area; the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is the federal district court with jurisdiction in Le Flore County. The Choctaw Nation signed the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, ceding part of their ancestral home in the Southeastern U. S. and receiving a large tract in Indian Territory. They signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, which ceded the remainder of their original land and caused the removal of all Choctaws who had not voluntarily migrated to the tribe's new territory. In 1832, the Federal Government constructed the Choctaw Agency in Indian Territory about 15 miles west of Fort Smith, Arkansas; the town of Skullyville grew up around the agency. The town was a stage stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail route.
It was the Choctaw capitol for a time. In 1834, the U. S. Army built Fort Coffee a few miles north of Skullyville, but closed it in 1838; the idled fort became the Fort Coffee Academy for Boys, operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. That church opened the New Hope Seminary for Girls in 1845, just east of town. In 1847, the Choctaw Agency burned and its functions were transferred to Fort Washita; the Battle of Devil's Backbone was fought near the present town of Pocola on September 1, 1863. Union Major General James G. Blunt defeated Confederate Brigadier General William Cabell. Union troops burned the academy in 1863. In 1866, the Choctaw government was able to reopen area schools. New Hope Seminary operated until it burned in 1896; the first school for Choctaw freedmen opened at Boggy Depot. In 1892, the Tushkalusa Freedmen Boarding school opened three miles southeast of Talihina. Coal mining and timber production attracted railroad construction beginning in 1886, when the Choctaw and Gulf Railroad built tracks from Wister west to McAlester and, in 1898, from Wister east to Howe, continuing the line to Arkansas in 1899.
In 1896 the Kansas City and Gulf Railroad built tracks through the region north to south, exiting into Arkansas near the Page community in southern Le Flore County. In 1900-01 the Poteau Valley Railroad built a line from Shady Point to Calhoun, which they abandoned in 1926. In 1900-01 the Arkansas Western Railroad constructed tracks from Heavener east to Arkansas. In 1901 the Fort Smith and Western Railroad connected Coal Creek west to McCurtain in Haskell County. In 1903-04 the Midland Valley Railroad laid tracks from Arkansas west through Bokoshe to Muskogee; the Oklahoma and Rich Mountain Railroad, owned by the Dierks Lumber and Coal Company, constructed the county's last railroad, from Page to the lumber town of Pine Valley in 1925-26. Prior to statehood, the area that became LeFlore County was part of Moshulatubbee and the Apukshunnubbee districts, in Sugar Loaf and Wade counties in the Choctaw Nation. Robert S. Kerr, former Governor of Oklahoma and U. S. Senator, left a legacy in Le Flore County, where in the 1950s he established a ranch outside of Poteau.
In 1978 the family donated his ranch home to the state, it was opened as the Kerr Conference Center and Museum. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Overstreet-Kerr Historical Farm are in the county. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,609 square miles, of which 1,589 square miles is land and 19 square miles is water; the Arkansas River forms the northern boundary of the county, while its tributaries, the Poteau and James Fork Rivers drain much of the county into the Arkansas. The Kiamichi and Mountain Fork Rivers drain the rest of the county into the Red River of the South; the Ouachita Mountains extend into the southern part of the county, along with associated ranges: the Winding Stair Mountains and the Kiamichi Mountains. Cavanal Hill is in the northern part of the county. Lake Wister, a flood control reservoir, is in the central part of the county; the Ouachita National Forest, in the county's southern half, Heavener Runestone State Park are tourist attractions.
Additionally, Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area is located in the county. It is one of two National Recreation Areas located in the state of Oklahoma, the other being Chickasaw. Indian Nations National Scenic and Wildlife Area Ouachita National Forest Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area Spiro Mounds As of the census of 2000, there were 48,109 people, 17,861 households, 13,199 families residing in the county; the population density was 30 people per square mile. There were 20,142 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile; the racial makeup of the county was 80.35% White, 2.21% Black or African American, 10.72% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.44% from other races, 5.03% from two or more races. 3.84% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.7 were of American, 10.1% Irish, 9.6% German and 7.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000. There were 17,861 households out of which 33.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, 26.10% were non-families.
23.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The