The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.[1] Located in the southwestern region of Oklahoma approximately Template:Convert southwest of Oklahoma City, it is the principal city of the Lawton Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the 2010 US Census, Lawton's population was 96,867, making it the fifth largest city in the state.[2]

Built on former reservation lands of Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Indians, Lawton was founded on August 6, 1901 and 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. Lawton's landscape is typical of the Great Plains with flat topography and gently rolling hills, while the area north of the city is marked by the Wichita Mountains.

The city's proximity to Fort Sill Military Reservation gave Lawton economic and population stability in the region throughout the 20th century.[3] Although Lawton's economy is still largely dependent on Fort Sill, it has also grown to encompass manufacturing, higher education, health care, and retail.[4] The city's government is run by a council-manager government consisting of a city manager and a city council headed by a mayor. Interstate 44 and three major United States Highways serve the city, while Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport connects Lawton by air. Recreation can be found at the city's many parks, lakes, museums, and festivals. Notable residents of the city include many musical and literary artists as well as several professional athletes.


Main article: History of Lawton, Oklahoma

The land that is present day Oklahoma was first settled by prehistoric American Indians including the Clovis 11500 BCE, Folsom 10600 BCE and Plainview 10000 BCE cultures. Western explorers came to the region in the 16th century with Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visiting in 1541. Most of the region during this time was settled by the Wichita and Caddo people. Around the 1700s, two tribes from the North, the Comanches and Kiowas, migrated to the Oklahoma and Texas region.[5]

For most of the 18th century, the Oklahoma region was under French control as Louisiana. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson brought the area under United States control. In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which removed American Indian tribes and relocated them to Indian Territory. The southern part of the territory was originally assigned to the Choctaw and Chickasaw until 1867 when the Medicine Lodge Treaty allotted the southwest portion of the Choctaw and Chickasaw’s lands to the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache tribes.[5][6]

Fort Sill was established in 1869 by Major General Philip Sheridan who was leading a campaign in Indian Territory to stop raids into Texas by American Indian tribes.[7] In 1874, the Red River War broke out in the region when the Comanche, Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne left their Indian Territory reservation. Attrition and skirmishes by the US Army finally forced the return of the tribes back to Indian Territory in June 1875.[7]

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 on July 4, 1901, that gave the federal government control over Template:Convert of surplus Indian land.[8][9]

File:General Henry W. Lawton.jpg

Three Template:Convert sites in Kiowa, Caddo and Comanche Counties were selected for county seats with Lawton designated as the Comanche County seat. The town was named for Major General Henry W. Lawton, a quartermaster at Fort Sill who had taken part in the pursuit and capture of Geronimo.[10] The city was opened to settlement through an auction of town lots beginning on August 6, 1901, which was completed sixty days later.[11] By September 25, 1901 the Rock Island Railroad expanded to Lawton and was soon joined by the Frisco Line.[12] The first city elections were held October 24, 1901[13]

The United States entry into World War I accelerated growth at Fort Sill and Lawton. The availability of Template:Convert of water from Lake Lawtonka, just north of Fort Sill, provided the motivation for the War Department to establish a major cantonment named Camp Doniphan, which was active until 1922.[14] Following World War II, Lawton enjoyed steady population growth with the population increasing from 18,055 to 34,757 from 1940 to 1950.[15] By the 1960s, it had reached 61,697.[15]

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. 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.[16]

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.[17][18] On March 1, 1964, the north section of the H. E. Bailey Turnpike was competed connecting Lawton directly to Oklahoma City. The south section of the turnpike leading to the Texas border was completed on April 23, 1964.[19] 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.[20]

On June 23, 1998, the city expanded when Lawton annexed neighboring Fort Sill.[21] With the advent of the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005 increasing the size of Fort Sill, Lawton is expected to see continued population and economic growth over the course of the next 20 years.[22]


Lawton is located at Template:Coord (34.604444, −98.395833). The city has a total area of Template:Convert, all of it land.[23] Lawton is located about Template:Convert southwest of Oklahoma City. Other surrounding cities include Wichita Falls about Template:Convert to the south, Duncan about Template:Convert to the east, and Altus about Template:Convert to the west.[24]

Lawton lies in an area that is typical of the Great Plains with prairie, few trees,and flat topography with gently rolling hills.[25] The region north of the city consists of the Wichita Mountains including Mount Scott and Mount Pinchot the area's highest peaks.[26] The area consists mostly of Permian Post Oak Conglomerate limestone on the northern sections of the city. In the south sections of the city, Permian Garber sandstone is commonly found with some Hennessey Group shale. Area creeks including East Cache Creek contain deposits of Quaternary Alluvium. To the northwest, the Wichita Mountains consist primarily of Wichita Granite Group from the Cambrian era.[27]


Lawton lies in a dry subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), 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. Northerly winds during the winter can occasionally intensify cold periods.[25]

The average mean temperature for the southwest Oklahoma is Template:Convert. The summers can be extremely hot; Lawton averages 21 days with temperatures Template:Convert and above.[28] The winter months are typically mild, though there can be periods of extreme cold. Lawton averages between 8 days that fail to rise above freezing.[28] The city receives about Template:Convert of precipitation[28] and less than Template:Convert of snow annually.[25]

Lawton is located squarely in area known as Tornado Alley and is prone to severe weather in late April through early June.[29] Most notably in 1957, a F4 tornado and again in 1979 a F3 tornado struck the southern region of the city.[30]

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