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Notes on the Geography of Oklahoma: East Norman

In 1960, Congress authorized construction of the Norman Project, an earthfill dam on the Little River a dozen miles east of town.  The dam was finished in 1965 and since then has, along with wells and occasional purchases from Oklahoma City, supplied Norman's drinking water.  In 1961, concerned that the water might be polluted, and perhaps even more concerned that Oklahoma City might strike preemptively, Norman annexed 113 square miles of Cleveland County.  The city limits jumped perhaps 15 miles eastward, not only to the lake but beyond it, creating a buffer entirely surrounding the reservoir.  What happened to those 113 square miles? 

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Oklahoma: East Norman picture 1

A typical section-line road in the annexed area, loosely called East Norman.  It looks very rural, but there isn't a single square mile that hasn't been subdivided since 1960 into scores of lots.  Such property snippping is no longer legal out here: new lots are generally held to a minimum of 10 acres.  Still, thousands of smaller lots--most not yet build upon--are grandfathered and legal.  The houses out here are on wells and septic tanks, and the question of water quality in Lake Norman continues to worry many people, especially as the density of houses increases.

One more thing: the name Lake Norman was quickly replaced by someone with heaps of imagination. The lake is now known as Lake Thunderbird.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 2

There are homes out here that look a great deal more rural than suburban, but they're in a minority and generally date from pre-lake times, when this was in fact farm country.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 3

The dense forest, by the way, belongs to the crosstimbers, an oak woodland.  In most cases, the forest today is secondary, growing on fields that were cultivated between about 1890 and 1950.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 4

There are paradoxical cases where the forest has not returned but where the wave of subdivision has receded, leaving desolation. 

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 5

Some of the lots--not all--belong to subdivisions with internal roads now maintained by the city.  The people in these subdivisions don't want the rules and regulations of city living. If a fellow wants to park half a dozen cars in his driveway, nobody better tell him otherwise.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 6

A fellow wants to park a couple of heavy-duty trucks across the street? That's fine.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 7

There are some fairly expensive subdivisions in East Norman, especially in the western area closer to the city proper.  But here, too, guys expect to have a workshop.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 8

Here's a new subdivision, just a few miles east of town. Funny, how the done-fence-me-in hostility to rules and regulations can co-exist with the rules-and-regulations of a gated community, but maybe the gates are just another kind of every-man-for-himself anarchy.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 9

Unlike most subdivisions in East Norman, this one is fiercely rectilinear.

Oklahoma: East Norman picture 10

Care to swim?


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