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History of Canton Lake

EARLY DAY HISTORY - The town of Canton, just south of Canton Lake, takes its name from the old garrison, "Cantonment on the Canadian River." Cantonment played an important, though brief, role in the settlement of northwestern Oklahoma.  The site, just off the west shore of Canton Lake, is marked by a single building that has been restored by the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes as a reminder of its brief episode in history.  Cantonment was established as a halfway point between Fort Reno and Fort Supply.  Records show Cantonment was established March 6, 1879, by Colonel Richard I. Dodge in command of six companies of the 23rd Infantry. This followed an outbreak of Northern Cheyennes, the "Dull Knife Raid," which brought demands from white settlers in Kansas for another military post to guard against further trouble with the Indians on the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation In Indian Territory. The record further relates that the post was manned until June 1882 and was never given any other name than Cantonment.  After the troops were withdrawn, the buildings were turned over to Mennonite missionaries who opened and maintained a boarding school for the Indian children on the reservation for many years. While at Cantonment, Colonel Richard I. Dodge wrote his book, "Our Wild Indians," which was published in 1882.  It was also at Cantonment that the Reverend Rodolphe Peter, a Mennonite missionary and noted scholar, wrote the "Cheyenne Dictionary" which is considered one of the greatest and most scholarly works on American Indian languages.  An Indian cemetery is located immediately southwest of the Project Office.  A number of Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs are buried there. 

HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT - Congress authorized the Canton Lake project in 1938 for flood control. The Flood Control Acts of 1946 and 1948 authorized irrigation and municipal water supply storage for the city of Enid, Okla.  Because Enid did not access its storage rights, in 1955 Oklahoma City began a series of 5-year contracts with the federal government to utilize Canton’s water storage.  Both the irrigation storage and the water storage were reassigned to Oklahoma City through Section 102 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1990. This project was started in 1940 but World War II temporarily halted construction. After the war, the Corps of Engineers resumed work, and the project was completed in late 1948 and formally dedicated in May of 1949.  The cost to build the Canton Project was $11 million.