The area around Wister Lake has been inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years. Numerous house mounds of prehistoric Indians still exist in the area. An archeological display concerning these mounds is located in the project office. Two major runestone discoveries, one near Heavener and the other near Poteau, establish that the Norse Vikings were in Oklahoma in the 11th century. The discovery of the Heavener Runestone was made by Choctaw Indians in the 1830s when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. For many years, the inscription was thought to be Indian writing. It was not until 1959 that the Heavener Runestone inscription was officially recognized as being composed of rune characters. The Poteau Runestone, on a hill near Poteau, was not discovered until 1967. The date inscribed on the Poteau Runestone has been interpreted as November 11, 1017, exactly five years later than the date of the Heavener Runestone.
The home of Peter Conser, leader of the famed Choctaw Lighthorse police or soldiers, is another interesting historic landmark near Lake Wister. The historic home is located three miles west of Hodgens on a rise of land beside the scenic road from Hodgens to Summerfield. Conser operated a blacksmith shop, gristmill, general store, and post office. Excellent horses were always kept in the rail corral around the barn for the Choctaw Lighthorsemen. They were famous for their effective law enforcement during the rugged and otherwise lawless period in the last quarter of the 19th century. The home of the late U.S. Senator and Mrs. Robert S. Kerr is located about five miles southwest of Poteau. The magnificent mansion, containing many of the late Senator's office furnishings and personal items, is now the Kerr Museum which is open to the public. It is a striking memorial to the famous Oklahoman.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT: Wister Lake was authorized for flood control and conservation by the Flood Control Act of 1938. The project was designed and built by the Tulsa District Corps of Engineers at a cost of $10.5 million. Construction began in April 1946, and the project was placed in full flood control operation December 1949.