Medicine Park is a town in Comanche County, Oklahoma, United States, situated in the Wichita Mountains near the entrance to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Medicine Park has a long history as a vintage cobblestone resort town. Medicine Park is located near the city of Lawton and Fort Sill. It is an exurb, part of the Lawton Metropolitan Statistical Area. Many of the original structures are constructed of naturally formed cobblestones—these red granite cobblestones are unique to the Wichita Mountains. The population was 382 at the 2010 census.
In the spring of 1906, five years after the establishment of the Wichita Mountains National Forest, Elmer Thomas envisioned the need not only for a recreational area but for a permanent water source for the newly founded nearby city of Lawton. Over a period of a few years, he and a partner, Hal Lloyd from Altus, Oklahoma, quietly purchased approximately of what became the cobblestone community of Medicine Park.
When the resort first opened, it consisted merely of a large surplus Army tent with a wooden floor where hot meals were served. Two dams were constructed on Medicine Creek to form Bath Lake Swimming Hole, and a limited number of campsites were constructed. Over a period of some four years, numerous improvements were added, and the area began to take on the characteristics of a bona fide resort.
About this same time, numerous such resorts were opening near the entries of other newly founded national parks and national forests across the country. With public interest growing in nature, the automobile gave unprecedented access to natural wonders. Resorts began springing up nationwide to provide food, lodging, and entertainment for a new generation of tourists.
Tourists came to Medicine Park from around Oklahoma and North Texas. Soon, there were two inns—the Outside Inn and the Apache Inn (formerly the Press Association Clubhouse) -- Baird’s Health Sanitarium (which featured clay tennis courts and a spa) -- a Dance Hall, The Medicine Park Lodge (atop Mount Dunbar), a Canteen, Petting Zoo, Bath House, General Store, School, Bait Shop, Hydro Electric Power Plant and the infamous Dam Café. Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys (the kings of western swing) became regulars at the Dance Hall from 1929 through the late 1930s. Soon numerous other famous bands of the day made their way through Medicine Park en route to big city venues in Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
The entire Bath Lake Park was landscaped with beautiful gardens, large trees, foot bridges, and grassy areas for visitors to lounge around, sunbathe and enjoy the natural beauty. The area flourished during the late teens to the 1940s as the “Jewel of the Southwest.”
The nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people each weekend and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park became the “playground” for the state’s rich, famous and notorious. Outlaws and horse thieves mixed with noted politicians and businessmen, soldiers and officers from Fort Sill, families, and socialites in the new cobblestone community. The pages of the town’s colorful history are filled with such figures as Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Colonel Jack Abernathy, Les Brown, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans.