Remembering Eagle Park, Cache, Oklahoma

Eagle Park and Other Legends

I grew up along the banks of Cache Creek and Rock Creek just outside of Cache, Oklahoma and many of those summers I spent time with friends fishing and swimming in the runoff waters that flowed out of the Wichita Mountains. We would catch grasshoppers and dig up a few worms to bait a hook while the spring waters still flowed down the sandy bottom. Then Summer would come and the creek would dry up some years leaving a sandy ribbon of dead carp.

Those were quite memorable days and I explored Cache Creek on foot and on the back of my dirt bike light enough to slide under barbed wire fences until I discovered a shortcut through the brush down Cache Creek to take me to Eagle Park. I can remember when there weren’t houses all up and down both sides of the creek in what is now called Rock Creek Estates. By foot, I’d cross the old train bridge looking, listening both ways before I embarked or by way of motorbike I’d ride beneath the graffiti painted trestle.

Then just off the bank at the edge of the trees was the Eagle Park Skating Rink. The kids from town packed the place and there I would go to spend a few of my quarters to play some pinball. I remember the extra-wide Superman machine we would try to beat on warm summer evenings before I made my trip back home before it got too dark.

Then Labor Day weekend came, school was back in, temperatures settled down a bit, and we had the Cache Frontier Days celebration. There was an outdoor carnival with a buffalo chip throwing contest that my dad won three times. The climax of the day was the western shootout outfitted with a quick vigilante trial and a fine hanging. Night would come and there would be the rodeo and a dance afterward.

These young ones growing up today probably don’t have any sense of the community that Cache, Oklahoma once was. It was put on the map by men of old such as Chief Quanah Parker and Frank Rush. Quanah built his famous Star House in the 1890’s. Parker was quite a popular man in those days and was a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt who made a trip to the area to meet Quanah and another friend, U.S. Marshall Jack Abernathy back in 1910. Old Jack would hunt wolves on horseback and catch them with his bare hands and thus the president arranged a wolf hunt near Frederick. During the same period of time, Jack’s young sons made their legendary journey alone to Washington D.C. on horseback to meet Roosevelt then drove a car back home–before there were highways.

Later Frank Rush built Craterville Park just north of Cache near Quanah’s home in 1924 (thirteen years after the death of Parker). Both of these men helped bring the Indian and white communities together through their efforts to form one fine little town. There was an All-Indian Fair at Craterville that was the front runner of the modern Indian Exposition seen today that exists in Anadarko. The agreement for the fair between Frank and the Indian tribes was drawn up on a tanned buckskin and it drew people from all over to attend this unique festival. Will Rogers even made the trip to see the sight.

Frank was involved in promoting rodeo as a sport during his life and while he was in charge of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, he was instrumental in bringing buffalo back to the plains. Frank was a champion of western heritage for both the cowboy and the Indian.

During the cold war that ramped up in the 1950’s, Fort Sill expanded and took the land that Craterville sat upon nestled in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains as well as the land the Star House sat upon. Craterville relocated north of Altus near Lugert then faded into oblivion.

Shortly afterward, Eagle Park was opened on the nothwest side of Cache on the beautiful banks of Cache Creek amid towering pecan trees. There were rides, miniature golf, bumper cars, a skating rink, a reptile house with even alligators, and a nice little rodeo arena where the Cache FFA organization sponsored an annual event. In addition, historical houses and buildings were brought in to be saved for future generations to appreciate including Quanah Parker’s Star House and Frank James’ Fletcher farm home.

Eagle Park endured decades providing entertainment for the citizens of Cache and the surrounding communities. In the early ’80’s, Lawton convinced Cache to allow the Lawton Chili Cookoff to move to Eagle Park and merge with Cache’s Western Days celebration. It was great for a couple of years. More people came and the concerts drew names such as Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn.

It seemed good for a time but it soon became evident that this was no longer a Cache Community event. You had all sorts of people you never saw showing up and the place got rowdier and finally when Lawton decided to call it quits, the community event was left gutted. Around the same time frame, the man who really made Eagle Park go was ‘ol Wayne Gibson. He was a man with a great vision and was a hard worker. He put many hours into making the family business a success and a great place for all us Cache folks to enjoy. With the aftermath of the vacated chili cookoff and the untimely death of Mr. Gibson, Eagle Park and the Cache community was left with a huge void–Cache would never be the same again. This is not meant to sound as if present Cache is bad, just that it is not the same for those of us who grew up there.

It was no one’s fault, Cache was just a victim of some untimely and tragic events amid an era of changing demographics of an evolving small town. To top off the 1900’s, in the final years of the century, the old skating rink along with the bumper cars the Ghost Mine ride caught fire and burned to the ground like a symbol of fading legends.

The nineties began some booming times for Cache but the old community was gone for the most part with new faces and housing developments popping up all around. Many of the great original folks were still there but something was missing–something we may never get back. Oh well, I suppose times change and you have to move on and start new legends with different folks to carry the mantle into the 21st century but this video brought back some old memories for me.

– by J.Wade Harrell, author of Shadows of Siernod


About J. Wade Harrell

A native of rural SW Oklahoma, I currently write swords and sorcery fiction which I publish in electronic format on Amazon. My interests and hobbies include shooting, riding motorcycles, fishing, watching college football, playing games, and most of all, spending as much time as possible with my better half, Kathy. I hope you enjoy my blog and that it might lead you into my fantastic worlds of swords and magic. -J. Wade Harrell
This entry was posted in History and Geography, Southwest Oklahoma Heritage, Wade's Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Remembering Eagle Park, Cache, Oklahoma

  1. Kay says:

    I moved to Cache at age 10 and grew up there. I remember Eagle Park very well and my family and I spent many a 4th of July there for the fireworks and music. I rode my horse all over the land there and followed the creek for many a mile. Nothing quite beat the feeling of jumping into that cool creek on a blazing hot Oklahoma summer day! I saw Rin Tin Tin and Jumbo the Giant steer at Craterville Park. I rode in several of the Frontier Days parades and rodeo Grand Entries. It was a wonderful time and place to grow up in and I still hold those memories very dear.

  2. Connie Wood says:

    I remember as a child going to Eagle Park and how awesome it was. It saddens me that it is just a old memory that is faded like the sign and buildings. I would have loved to taken my children there and my grandchildren. Wish someone would have preserved it. Connie Miles- Harrison- Wood

  3. Kenneth Miles says:

    My wife , myself, and family accidentally discovered Eagle Park one Sunday afternoon. We had stopped at the Trading Post for some refreshments and decided to take the small trail near the side of the Trading Post. As a Soldier, new to the Fort Sill area, we often went out driving in search of interesting activities for our children. It was a pleasant srprise to find the Park. Eagle Park was a fun place that we often visited. My wife and I were interested in the historical aspect and our children enjoyed the playground and the other rides and displays. We appreciated the efforts that some people had made to preserve a bit of the past.

  4. Duane Bennett says:

    I was born in cache and raised up in cache. As were a few generations before me. I’ve walked many of the same steps. Played on all the rides, the pow wows and rodeos are great memories. Eagle park holds a lot of space in my childhood memories. As does the town. We lived there till I was 12 then we moved to mtn park north of Snyder ok. Then at 14 off to Tennessee. I moved back home some 30yrs later to find the ruins of what was once a very rich childhood home. Full of great memories that I still cherish today!

  5. harkatinyhum says:

    I wonder if Wayne Gibson is the man who shared the joy of Eagle Park with us one May afternoon? I shared m y most vivid Eagle Park memory on my blog today. After reading yours, I realize that I left out many details.

  6. harkatinyhum says:

    Reblogged this on Hark, a Tiny Hum and commented:
    This post has so many details Eagle Park that I had forgotten. The man who welcomed us must have been Wayne Gibson who is named in this post.

    • harkatinyhum says:

      I think I used your picture on my post. I just used an image that I found on the internet. If the photo is yours and if you prefer that I not use it, let me know. I can also give you credit for the photo if it is indeed yours and I think it might be.

      • Wayne was a super friendly man always with a smile who normally wore a silver belly western hat. I don’t think any pictures on that post are any that I would ask for credit on. There are pictures I own on other posts, but I can’t claim any of the Eagle Park stuff. Thanks for visiting my blog and hope you found something of interest there.

  7. harkatinyhum says:

    Try to post this already so if it comes up twice it’s because I didn’t see the other one. My friend and I took our kids to a deserted eagle Park in the mid-80s. We Wandered Into the park area and were greeted by a gray-haired man. He opened up the park just for us. I just wonder if that man was Wayne.

  8. Oklahomahistorylady says:

    I found the Star House this summer. I was devastated to see it’s condition. I think the man who gave us a tour was Wayne Gipson, the nephew of Mr. Woesner. According to Distinctly Oklahoma he and his sister are resistant to letting the State & Lawton Historical Societies save the house. If you have any relationship with him at all please encourage him to let them save the home before it is past repair. This is a piece of our history we can’t let die, there are 100 sod houses & dugouts at museums in the west, but there is only 1 Quanah Parker & 1 Star House.

  9. harkatinyhum says:

    Is your Eagle Park entry getting lots of hits? I had over 2000 hits yesterday. I thought I was being spammed but I learned that Eagle Park was featured on American Pickers. Haha!

  10. harkatinyhum says:

    I watched the segment. The owner says the park closed in 85. I know we went after that year — most likely in May 87. So now I have to wonder why the man opened the park for our kids. He must have enjoyed it as much as we did, and we may have really been the last customers the park ever had! What a treat!

  11. tjg says:

    We’d just seen the American Pickers episode that included Eagle Park and had never heard about it so looked it up and read your posting. Was glad to learn about it and found it very interesting.

  12. Sherry says:

    My three sisters and I LOVED Eagle Park. We were known as the Smith Girls with little brother, Leonard a.k.a. Son. We would put our skates on at 10 am skate all day & pull skates off at 10 pm every weekend. We attended church (always sang all the old hymns we knew the words to), Chili Cook-off’s, concerts, rodeos, rode rides and horses, worked in concession stands and loved the Eagle Park family. Still enjoy all the pictures and memories we made there. All of us still have the skates we road many a mile on in the skating rink. Drank a lot of pickle juice! Was very happy to see American Pickers show.

  13. Duane Bennett says:

    So much of my childhood is tied to Eagle Park. I’m tryin to remember you guys. Eagle park was an every weekend thing for my brother and sisters and I.

  14. Duane Bennett says:

    Really? It’s been to many years, I can’t remember. What is your name again? More important.. what did you look like then? Do you still live in cache? Feel free to email me. I’d love to converse with some of my childhood friends. I live in Tennessee now. Duane

    • My name is Wade Harrell. I was the boy with glasses and light to medium brown hair back then whose parents owned the Dairy X across the street from the school shop building. I don’t live in Cache but did live in Indiahoma for a long time. In the past year I built a house near Meers where I now reside. If you want to try to find some friends from Cache, there is are a couple of groups on Facebook you might be interested in. They are Cache Friends and Class of 1983 Cache Public Schools groups. It is good to hear from you.

      • Duane Bennett says:

        Loved the dairy x. I’m hoping to move back to the area in the next year or so. My parents lived at the big hog ranch just up from meers when I was born. Do the Wichitas are in my blood. I never feel more at peace than when I’m sitting on top of elk mountain.

  15. Butch says:

    I remember going there many times as a school trip. I also remember going here on the fourth of July watching fireworks and riding the rides. It is sad to see it the way it is now. These kids today will never know the thrills and joys of places like this, much like the drive in theaters gone way to soon. A few of my favorite rides there were the tilter-whirl and the train that went through out the park.

  16. Ryno Lascavio says:

    This sound a lot like the town I grew up in. What I noticed in the 80s and 90s is that it was the first time where outsiders moved in and changed things to the way THEY wanted it. Newcomers had always melded into a new community. Now it was different. I personally believe that many kids of the 60s and 70s just lost respect for the old arrangement and just wanted to do things the way THEY wanted to. Problem is, the next generation and the new ones are so hostile to old manners and relationships we are just trying to keep each other civil now. Heck, you cant go to a nice restaurant in my town where ignorant morons aren’t wearing hunting hats and flannel shirts! What kind of respect is that to the owner of a nice restaurant?
    Eagle Park is a small symbol (there are many others) for a great disconnect between generations in this country. A disconnect that unless rectified, will not end well.

  17. Linda ford says:

    Greetings Cachites! My dad was stationed at Ft. Sill during the early 1960’s, and we lived in Lawton for 5 years. Like all little girls, my heart beat for horses so dad took me to Eagle Park to ride on a regular basis. Can you believe it only cost a dollar an hour! On my birthdays, $5 paid for an all day ride. Charlie was my favorite horse, slow and gentle for a young girl, and we quickly bonded as friends. My favorite outing was packing a picnic lunch for Charlie and me. I had sandwiches and pickles, and he munched apples and carrots. Such sweet memories of a long, lost childhood time. Thanks for the memories!
    Linda Ford

  18. what a great read….thanks to all that posted…..seems we all have some sort of childhood memories from that era…I also grew up with an amusement park….dwarf village…top of lairdhill echobay Ont….after it closed in the middle 70s…my great aunt had humpty dumpty at her driveways end…untill about 2010..when it was moved to the highway 17 trading post…and its still there today…brings back great memories….rides and bush trails with all the homes of differnt characters great food and the same people every weekend…socializing ….not indoors with electronics like the kids of today

  19. Scott Johnson says:

    Wade how have you been, long time since l have been back home.

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