Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton, Oklahoma Lawton, Oklahoma

Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Comanche
Founded August 6, 1901
ZIP codes 73533
Area code(s) 580

Lawton, OklahomaThe city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the southwestern region of Oklahoma approximately 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, near the Wichita Mountains, it is the principal city of the Lawton Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2009, Lawton's population was 91,187, making it the fifth largest city in the state. Built on former reservation lands of Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Indians, Lawton began in 1901 as a town opened by lottery for homestead development. The city was named after Major General Henry Ware Lawton, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action in the Philippine–American War. The city's proximity to Fort Sill Army Post gave Lawton economic and population stability in the region throughout the 20th century.

Lawton's economy is still largely dependent on Fort Sill, but has also grown to encompass manufacturing, higher education, health care, and retail. Lawton is served by Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport and Interstate 44. The Great Plains Coliseum hosts athletic and other events, while other recreation can be found at Lawton's many parks, lakes, museums, and festivals.


Lawton is located at Lawton, Oklahoma34°36′16″N 98°23′45″W / 34.60444°N 98.39583°W / 34.60444; -98.39583 (34.604444, -98.395833). The city has a total area of 75.1 square miles (195 km2), all of it land. Lawton is located about 84 miles (135 km) southwest of Oklahoma City.

Lawton lies in an area that is typical of the Great Plains with prairie, few trees,and flat topography with gently rolling hills. The region north of the city consists of the Wichita Mountains including Mount Scott and Mount Pinchot the area's highest peaks.


Lawton lies in a semi-arid (Köppen climate classification BSk) climate, with frequent variations in weather daily, except during the constantly hot and dry summer months. Frequent strong winds, usually from the south or south-southeast during the summer, help to lessen the hotter weather. While occasional northerly winds during the winter can intensify cold periods.

The average mean temperature for the southwest Oklahoma is 62 °F (17 °C). The summers can be extremely hot, where Lawton averages 35 days with temperatures 100 °F (38 °C) and above. The winter months are typically mild, though there can be periods of extreme cold. Lawton averages between 3–6 days of temperatures below 32 °F (0 °C). The city receives about 39.4 inches (1,000 mm) of precipitation and less than 3 inches (80 mm) of snow annually.

Lawton is located squarely in area known as Tornado Alley and is prone to severe weather in late April through early June. Most notably in 1957, a F4 tornado and again in 1974 a F3 tornado struck the southern region of the city.


Lawton’s history is inextricably tied to Fort Sill, which was established in 1869 in Indian Territory.

In 1891, the United States Congress appointed a commission to meet with the tribal leaders and come to an agreement allowing white settlement. Years of controversy and legal maneuvering ensued before President William McKinley issued a proclamation which gave the federal government control over 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) for less than $1 per acre.

Lawton, Oklahoma
Major-General Henry Ware Lawton

Lawton was a 320-acre (1.3 km2) site designated as the county seat for Comanche County, Oklahoma. It was named for General Henry W. Lawton, a quartermaster at Fort Sill who had taken part in the pursuit and capture of Geronimo. Geronimo was jailed at the Old Post Guardhouse at Fort Sill, and he remained in the area until his death on February 17, 1909. The city was opened to settlement through an auction of town lots beginning on August 6, 1901 and ending 60 days later.

The Rock Island Railroad expanded into Lawton on September 25, 1901, joined soon thereafter by the Frisco Line. Highways later stretched in all directions from Lawton. The first were state highways 8 and 36 north and south (later U.S. 277 and 281), and State Highway 7 east and west (S.H. 7 still designated east of Lawton while same highway to the west of the city was co-designated U.S. 62 and S.H. 7 for many years but solely as U.S. 62 in recent years). By the late 1930s, Lawton was connected to Oklahoma City via U.S. 62 and 277, U.S. 62 west to Altus on into the Texas Panhandle, and U.S. 277-281 south to Wichita Falls, Texas.

The first city elections were held October 24, 1901 One of the original two newspapers, the Lawton Daily Democrat, became the forerunner of the Lawton Constitution, which was established in 1911.

The United States entry into World War I accelerated growth at Fort Sill and Lawton. The availability of five million gallons of water from Lake Lawtonka, just north of Fort Sill, provided the impetus for the War Department to establish a major cantonment named Camp Doniphan, active until 1922. Following World War II, Lawton enjoyed rapid and steady population growth with the population increasing from 18,055 to 34,757 from 1930 to 1940. By 1960, it had reached 61,697.

Lawton underwent tremendous growth during the late 1940s and 1950s, leading city officials to seek additional water sources to supplement existing water from Lake Lawtonka at the foot of Mount Scott near Medicine Park. In the late 1950s, the city purchased large parcels of land along East Cache Creek in northern Comanche County for the construction of a man-made lake with a dam built in 1959 on the creek just north of U.S. 277 west of Elgin. Lake Ellsworth, named for a former Lawton mayor and soft-drink bottler C.R. Ellsworth, was dedicated in the early 1960s and not only offered additional water resources, but also recreational opportunities and flood control along Cache Creek, which had been prone to flooding following heavy rains further downstream to the east of Lawton southward to near Walters in Cotton County.

In 1966, the Lawton annexed several miles of land on the city's east, northeast, west and northwest borders, expanding east beyond the East Cache Creek area and west to 82nd Street. Urban renewal efforts in the 1970s transformed downtown Lawton. A number of buildings dating back to the city's founding were demolished in order to build an enclosed shopping mall.

On June 23, 1998, the city expanded when Lawton annexed neighboring Fort Sill. With the advent of the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005, Lawton is expected to see continued population and economic growth.

Economy and workforce

Lawton is primarily centered on government, manufacturing and retail trade industries. Lawton MSA ranks 4th in Oklahoma with Gross Domestic Product of $4.2 Billion produced in 2008 with a majority ($2.1 Billion) in the government sector.[5] Fort Sill is the largest employer of jobs in Lawton, employing over 5,000 full time employees. In the private sector, the largest employer is Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company with 2,400 full time employees. Major employers in the Lawton area also include: Lawton Public Schools, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, City of Lawton, Cameron University, and Assurant Solutions.

Lawton includes two major industrial parks. One is located in the southwest region of town while the second is located near the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport.

At present, the city of Lawton is undertaking the Downtown Revitalization Project. Its goal is to redesigning the areas between Elmer Thomas Park at the north through Central Mall to the south to be more visually appealing and pedestrian friendly in order to encourage business growth in the area.

Lawton had 30,818 employed civilians as of the 2000 Census, including 15,371 females. Of the civilian workers, 19,297 (62.6%) were private for profit wage and salary workers. Of them 754 (2.4% of the total Lawton civilian workforce) were employees of their own corporations. 1,572 (5.1%) were private non-profit wage and salary workers. 2,223 (7.2%) worked for local governments. 2,122 (6.9%) were state government workers. 3,736 (12.1%) were federal workers. 1,802 (5.8%) were self-employed; 50 (.2%) worked in agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting. 66 (.2%) were unpaid family workers.


Higher education

Main article: Cameron University

Cameron University is the largest four year, state-funded university, in southwest Oklahoma, offering more than 50 degree programs in areas of Business, Education, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology. Founded in 1909, Cameron has an average fall enrollment of 6,000 students and 70 endowed faculty positions.

Lawton is also served by the Great Plains Technology Center, which is part of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education System. Great Plains provides occupational education, training, and development opportunities to area residents.

Primary and secondary schools

Lawton Public Schools serves most of the city of Lawton. The district operates two pre-kindergarten centers, twenty-six elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools – Eisenhower, Lawton, and MacArthur. Two dependent districts, Bishop and Flower Mound, serve portions of Lawton. Bishop operates a single PK-6 elementary campus and Flower Mound has a PK-8 campus. Secondary students living in these districts attend Lawton Public Schools. A small portion of far-west Lawton is served by Cache Public Schools.

There are also some schools that are not part of the public school system, one being St. Mary's Catholic School which has both an elementary and middle school. St. Mary's has served the greater Lawton area and the Fort Sill community for over 100 years. St. Mary's offers accredited Catholic education for grades Pre-K through 8th grade. Beginning in 2009, St. Mary's and Lawton Public Schools entered into a sports cooperative that allows St. Mary's Middle School students to play sports for the local public middle school. It is the only accredited private school in Lawton. Trinity Christian Academy and Lawton Christian School are two other private schools. Lawton Christian has the city's only private independent high school. Lawton Christian, founded in 1976, offers education to grades prekindergarten though 12th grade and has a student body of 426 students.

Arts and culture

Events and festivals

Lawton is home to many annual attractions including the annual Prince of Peace Easter Passion Play. It is held in the Holy City in the Wichita Mountain Refuge each year on Palm Sunday and continues to Easter Eve. It continues to be one of the longest running Easter Passion Play in the nation and was the basis for the 1949 movie The Prince of Peace.

In May, Lawton Arts for All hosts the Arts for All Festival. The festival accommodates several judged art competitions, as well as live entertainment. The festival is typically held at Shepler Park.

Lawton is also hosts The International Festival, which showcases many different culture, arts, and music. Started in 1979, The International Festival held annually in late-September at Elmer Thomas Park.


Lawton has three museums that are open to the public. The Museum of the Great Plains is a museum dedicated to early Lawton history and settlement of the Great Plains. It includes a replica of the Red River Trading Post, the original Blue Beaver schoolhouse, and Elgin Train Depot with a Frisco locomotive.

The Ft. Sill Museum is located on the current military base of the same name and includes the old Fort Sill corral, several period buildings, and artillery pieces. The old fort is also listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, which is operated by the Comanche Nation Tribe, focuses on exhibits and art relating to the Comanche culture past and present.

Parks and recreation

Lawton, Oklahoma
A view of Mt Scott

Lawton is home to 80 parks and recreations areas in varying sizes, including the largest Elmer Thomas. Along with the park system, the city is nearby three major lakes, Lake Lawtonka, Lake Ellsworth, and Elmer Thomas Lake which boating, swimming, camping, and fishing are permitted.

Northwest of the city is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge which is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in order to preserve the natural fauna of southwest Oklahoma. The refuge includes a Visitor Center, several camping areas, hiking trails, and many lakes for the public to explore.


Lawton is home to Cameron University Aggies, which is a Division II school in the Lone Star Conference. Noted for winning the NAIA Football National Championship in 1987, the school has no football current program, however Cameron remains competitive in Men's and Women's Basketball, Tennis, Baseball/Softball, among other sports.

Lawton is also home to the Premier Basketball League team the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry. The Calvary moved from Oklahoma City to Lawton in 2007 where they have gone to win three championships.

The city also offers many organized amateur leagues including: Adult Softball, Youth Baseball, Soccer, Softball, and Volleyball.


Lawton, Oklahoma
Lawton City Hall

Lawton uses the council-manager model of municipal government. The city's primary authority resides in the City Council which approves ordinances, resolutions, and contracts. The city is divided into eight wards with each ward electing a single city council representative for a three year term. The mayor, who is elected every three years, presides and sets the agenda over the City Council, but is primarily ceremonial as a head of government. The administrative day to day operations of the city is headed by the City Manager who is appointed by the City Council. As of March 2010, the Mayor of Lawton is Fred L. Fitch and City Manager is Larry Mitchell.

Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County and houses county offices and courts. Three elected commissioners serving four year terms manage the county government.

At the federal level, Lawton lies in Oklahoma 4th Congressional district, represented by Tom Cole. In the State Senate, Lawton is in District 31 (Don Barrington) and 32 (Randy Bass). In the House, District 62 (T.W. Shannon), 63 (Don Armes), 64 (Ann Coody) covers the city.



Lawton, Oklahoma
Map of Lawton, OK

Lawton is primarily served by Interstate 44, which is also designated as the H.E. Bailey Turnpike which connects with Oklahoma City to the northeast and to Wichita Falls, Texas to the south. The city is also connected to US Highway 62 which connects to the regional towns of Altus to the west and Anadarko to the north. Other major thoroughfares include US Highway 277 and 281, which parallels the H.E. Bailey Turnpike to Wichita Falls to the south and leads to regional towns of Anadarko and Chickasha, respectively, to the north, as well as OK-7 which connects Lawton to Duncan.

Lawton Area Transit System (LATS) which provides public transit for both Lawton and Fort Sill. LATS main terminal is located near the Lawton Public Library and provides five major routes throughout the city.

By air, Lawton is served by the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport. At present, it offers American Eagle flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and is also used for military use. As recently as 2007-2008, the Lawton Airport was served by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a regional carrier for Delta Connection. Delta Connection offered twice daily 50 seat CRJ service to Atlanta.

Health care

Lawton has three major hospitals in the area. The largest, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, is a 283-bed non-profit hospital that employs 250 physicians. On the southwest of the city, Southwestern Medical Center is a 199-bed hospital with a staff of 150 physicians. In addition, the US Public Health Lawton Indian Hospital, is located in the city to provide for the large American Indian population. It has 26 beds with a staff of 23 physicians.


The Lawton Constitution is the only daily newspaper published in Lawton and has a circulation of 30,000. In addition the Fort Sill newspaper, The Cannoneer, is published weekly primarily for military personnel as well as the newspaper The Cameron Collegian whose main audience is Cameron University students. Additionally, Okie Magazine is a monthly magazine that focuses on news and entertainment in the Southwest Oklahoma area.

Lawton has two AM Stations KKRX 1050 and KXCA 1380 as well as 15 FM stations which includes: NPR affiliate KCCU 89.3, KFXI 92.1, KZCD 94.1, KMGZ 95.3, KJMZ 97.9, KLAW 101.3 and KVRW 107.3

Lawton is located in the Wichita Falls and Lawton Media Market which encompasses 154,450 TV homes, making it the 149th largest in the nation according to Nelson Media Research. KSWO-TV channel 7, an ABC affiliate, is the only broadcast television station in the Lawton area that provides local news. All other major stations including, KFDX-TV 3 (NBC), KAUZ-TV (CBS), and KJTL-TV (Fox) are based in Wichita Falls.

External links

Clean Air Lawton Clean Air Lawton
Air Quality in Lawton
Lawton Area Transit System Lawton Area Transit System
Bus routes and schedules ... Paratransit system
Lawton Metro Planning Organization LMPO
Lawton Metropolitan Planning Organization
Stormwater Quality Management Stormwater Quality Management
What is Stormwater?...Uses of stormwater

Lawton, Oklahoma
Local Information

KSWO - Lawton, Oklahoma Channel 7 TV station.

Lawton Area Transit System

Lawton official website