History of Optima Lake

The area in which Optima Lake is located is part of what was once known as "No Man's Land" in Oklahoma Territory. The area was called "No Man's Land" because it had not been placed under the jurisdiction of any state or territory and no land could be legally claimed.

This awkward status delayed settlement and generally restricted the development of the area. Incorporation of No Man's Land in Oklahoma Territory in 1890 finally opened the area to legal settlement at Beaver County and brought a gradual increase in settlers.

Railroads were extended into the area promising prosperity to the towns located along the proposed routes. One town that was located along a railroad surveyed route was the town of Old Hardesty; however, the railroad changed its course and bypassed the town some 18 mites to the west. Most town residents and businesses moved to the new town of Sandford located on the new railroad tracks. Sandford's name was later changed to Guymon.

In 1901, Old Hardesty was finally abandoned. This ended its 17-year existence. Though brief, this span of time encompassed the most crucial period of history in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Other early towns of the area are Beaver and Boise City.

Traces of one of the last cattle trails may still be seen near Old Hardesty. This is one of the last cattle trails going from Texas to Colorado and on to Montana. As the railroads built their lines toward the south and west and as Kansas closed her border to the cattle driver, the cattlemen were forced to move from the cattle trails further west in Oklahoma to go through the edge of New Mexico and Colorado. The evidence of this old trail can be seen approximately 100 yards west of Old Hardesty going up through a low ravine in a northwesterly direction. It passes some 100 yards north and east of the Old Hardesty cemetery. Near the Old Hardesty burial grounds, the trail swings to the west more and continues to lip the Beaver River Valley area. North of the Old Hardesty cemetery the cattle trail crosses the faint impression left of the stagecoach line that ran from Beaver City to Guymon, Boise City, and Clayton, New Mexico, areas.


Optima Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1936. Project purposes include flood control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife. Construction was delayed by the depression, World War II and the Korean conflict. In 1962, Congress approved funds for preconstruction planning, and construction began in 1966.  Construction was completed in 1978.