State Park Brochures in the Oklahoma Collection

In our office, you would not notice the seasons passing, but I cannot help but be excited that fall is finally here! It is time for this graduate student to find some free time, get out her hiking boots, and head outside to watch the leaves turn and the birds migrate. When people think of outdoor recreation, Oklahoma is rarely their first thought. That is not without reason, our state ranks 47th in the country for land dedicated state and national parks.

That being said, did you know that Oklahoma has 35 state parks? That’s enough to keep you busy for a while! We have old brochures for most of these parks in our Oklahoma Collection (2006.012), our alphabetized collection of Oklahoma historical newspaper clippings, brochures, magazines, and photographs. It is a treat to browse in this collection as a native Oklahoman, as I can always find something that I can relate to.

Oklahoma’s Department of Tourism and Recreation, which includes the State Parks Department, was established in 1931. Lake Murray is Oklahoma’s largest and oldest state park, with 12,500 acres of land. There, visitors can partake in all sorts of watersports, hiking, wildlife watching, and camping. It also houses the first state park cabins, which have been renovated since their inception in the fifties and are still open to visitors today.

A map of all of the state parks in Oklahoma inside of a Lake Murray brochure

Photograph of a wooden sign announcing Lake Murray State Park

Photograph of the entrance to Lake Murray State Park. It still looks the same today!










Boiling Springs State Park is located about three hours west of Tulsa, near Woodward, OK. This park was also established in the 1930’s and is named for the “boiling” (really it’s just bubbling) springs that can be viewed in a wooden structure near the visitor’s center. This park was originally established by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC for short), a public relief program established by Franklin Roosevelt to employ young men jobs related to conservation and land development. When you visit one of the many state parks established by the CCC, you’ll see old structures all over the park that were originally built by them, including the building that houses the famous “boiling springs”.

Two brochures for Boiling Springs State Park, one with a woman standing on a sign and looking off to the left and the other of the landscape in the park

Black and white picture of a building with a second image of three people standing next to a well and looking into it

People standing inside of the original CCC building that houses the boiling springs of Boiling Springs State Park










Many of the brochures feature photographs of women wearing questionable recreation attire. Heels and skirts? That’s not how I hike!


Black and white photo of a woman volleying a ball at Quartz Mountain State Park wearing a swimsuit and high heels

Woman at Quartz Mountain in her heels playing with a beach ball

Woman standing on a dock on Lake Murray

The woman in her bathing suit and heels almost distracts from the amazing skiier flying through the air behind her! From the Lake Murray brochure of the same year











I know what you might be thinking… Why would someone write a blog post about state parks in the fall instead of the summer? Because it is so beautiful outside right now! There are other ways to play outdoors besides water-sports, and being outside at a safe distance is a pandemic friendly activity that will lift your spirits during these odd times.  Why don’t you collect your own park brochures? Then you can keep them to remember your adventures. Maybe someday they’ll end up in a collection like ours!

Our office remains open to TU affiliates and closed to the public. Everybody is free to peruse our collections or view our catalog of books. As always, feel free to email us at if you have any requests for scans or would like to set up an appointment to view our collections.

(On a personal note, I have visited many of these parks and I always find that I am more centered and happier when I am spending time with nature. I hope that you too can find some solace outdoors during these trying times and if you ever need any Tulsa recommendations or a hiking buddy, I am always here!)

About Kelsey Hildebrand

Kelsey is GA in the Special Collections department currently pursuing a Master's in Museum Science and Management.
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