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Grand Lake o’ the Cherokee – A Grand Past

Situated in the foothills of Northeast Oklahoma is Grand Lake o' the Cherokees. This area is at the base of the Ozark Mountain Range and commonly referred to as Grand Lake. The first vision of this lake, it was to be the Cherokee Nation’s hydroelectric power source. That was the idea that Henry Holderman had all along, even before Oklahoma joined the union.

Holderman started his efforts of building political support for this project that he believed in and the Army Corps of Engineers  performed their feasibility testing, which agreed with Holderman’s beliefs. Thus, GRDA, the Grand River Dam Authority, was created by the Oklahoma legislature in 1935 as a state agency.

In 1938, construction of the Pensacola Dam started at the lower Neosho River and was finished in 1940. That dam created the lake and between 1941 and 1946, Pensacola Dam was controlled by the U.S. government as part of the war efforts in the country. GRDA regained control in 1946. 

Today the lake is a destination that many Oklahomans head for outdoor entertainment. In addition to many resorts and shows, the Cherokee Queen is a tour boat that has been providing many residents of Green Country region, as well all across the state, entertainment since the 1940s.

Fishermen, both casual and pro, head to the Northeast Oklahoma destination for some of the best bass fishing in North America. Sail boaters frequent this lake, as well, and the other entertainment sources are numerous.

With so many things to do here, why would residents of this state leave to go on vacation? From motorcycle and truck rallies to Civil war re-enactments, not to mention the multitude of places to dine. The history is rich here in the area of Grand Lake and the people are proud of their contribution to one of America’s top vacation destinations.