El Reno Recreational Areas – History
Attributing research and compilation too: Carolyn Marquardt Barker (1939 – 2018)
In 1903 or 1904 Sam Peach, an El Reno merchant, built a recreation park on the west side of Reno Street. A few years later he built a dam across the creek and the lake that was formed was known as Peach’s Lake. Peach’s Park had a baseball diamond, vaudeville house, dancing pavilion and boats in 1908. It also had a miniature scenic railroad, skating rink and a merry-go-round.
Legion Park was formerly Peach’s Park. The lake was nearly completely excavated in April 1920. A rustic bridge was built in the summer to connect the island with the mainland. The lake was used for both, boating and swimming.
In 1923 the park covered 17 acres, with 1 ½ acres set aside as tourist facilities. The fee of 25 cents per car was charged for overnight parking in 1926.
The park is still being used. The lake is much smaller now and swimming is no longer allowed. Baseball diamonds on the west side are still being used.
It is not known when Bellamy Lake or Reno Lake was built. But the article from the The El Reno Democrat. (El Reno, Okla. Terr.), Vol. 16, No. 44, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 16, 1905 read: “The contract for raising and strengthening the dam at Bellamy’s Lake was awarded to Will Penwright, and the work is now being done. The contract calls for the completion of the job in ninety days. The dam will be raised three feet and it will be wide enough on top for a good driveway. The added height of the dam will enlarge the lake to 120 acres, and it will double the capacity of the lake.”
Bellamy Lake had a pump to provide water in the Rock Island Railroad water tank near the depot in 1907.
The dam broke on June 12, 1907 and flooded the area in the northern part of El Reno. The dam broke loose at the center after 5 ¾ inches of rain fell in 8 hours. Many fish washed out of the lake, that had been stocked there.
On February 21, 1908 it was reported that Bellamy’s Lake was rapidly filling with water and would soon have as much water in it as when the dam broke last spring.
Later that same year Lake Reno covered 110 acres with a granite-lined dam 1500 by 12 feet. When filled the lake contained 175,000,000 gallons of water. Boat houses lined the shore.
Lawrence G. Adams, pioneer El Reno Resident, died on July 25, 1941 and bequeathed a large portion of his estate to the city of El Reno for a public park. The 120-acre farm was located on the west edge of El Reno. It embraced the site of the old Bellamy Lake. Part of the dam remained with a large grove near it. Under the terms of the will the land would remain in the possession of the city so long as it was devoted to park purposes.
Adams Park is still a well-maintained area which many people enjoy all year round.
Lake El Reno
The city of El Reno recognized a need for flood control and recreational facilities. The flood plain of Four Mile Creek was flooded frequently and severely.
The flood of 1953 flooded 353 acres of the urban area of El Reno. Approximately 475 homes and 25 businesses were affected, as well as, railroad property, city streets, a sewage disposal plant, two city parks and public utilities.
Lake El Reno, a part of the four Mile Creek Watershed project, was a joint venture by the city of El Reno and the United States Soil Conservation Service. The lake is for flood prevention storage and recreational water.
The city’s portion of the cost of construction of the lake was furnished by a bond issue voted in October 1959. Most of it was paid by the federal government.
Construction of Lake El Reno began in the fall of 1965. The final inspection on the dam was held on March 2, 1966. Most of the sewer, water and road work was completed by November 1966. The lake was opened for fishing and recreation by June 1968. Channel improvement on 4.8 miles of the Four Mile Creek below the dam started in July 1968.
Many people have enjoyed the lake area. Fourth of July fire works have been held there for many years. The flooding has been corrected and home are no longer flooded, like they were before.
The City of El Reno is responsible for the operation, maintenance and replacement of the lake and stream channel improvement.
Besides Lake El Reno, the city has 738 acres of city parks. These include a swimming pool built in 1935 (no longer in use) was filled in and a new pool was built in the same park north of the old one. There are tennis courts, baseball diamonds and rodeo facilities. These parks include: Legion and Adams parks previously mentioned; Bronson park near Rose Witcher; Burton Park, formerly known as Dunbar Park; Frank Knight Park, which was formerly City Park; Gadberry Park at 23rd and South Miles; Hillcrest Park between Hadden and Ellison near the school; and Rinehart Park, which is a green belt between the residential area and the Country Club Shopping Center.