More than 200 people lived there at the height of the operations. But federal welfare programs made a poor farm largely redundant, and by August 1955 the number of residents had fallen to just 76.
With the farm no longer needed, Mayor LC Clark suggested it would make a nice place for a park. But again, some Tulsans scoffed. The area around 51st Street and Yale Avenue remained largely rural at the time with only a few suburban homes nearby. Why build a park “over there?”
Nonetheless, oil tanker Joseph LaFortune donated $ 650,000 – about $ 5.6 million today – to build his namesake park, which covered 270 acres when it opened in October 1960. And, of course, the development rapidly developed around him.
Now Tulsa is planning another park even further south. Land Legacy, a nonprofit conservation group, and the Mary K. Chapman Foundation recently donated nearly 30 acres of undeveloped land near 71st Street and US 169. It will be added to 26, 8 acres of adjacent property the city already owned to create a new park that will connect with the nearby Mingo Valley Trail.
This time, no one can complain that the area is too rural. Rather the opposite. The land is behind a Lowe’s Home Improvement store and next to a noisy six-lane freeway near one of the state’s busiest suburban shopping districts.
Doesn’t this seem like a great place?