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Oklahomyths: Shoreline Sadness

Fact-checking a persistent Oklahoma myth



Lake Hefner’s 3.86 square miles of water are beautiful, but don’t provide enough coastline to move Oklahoma up in the national ranks.

 


While Oklahoma may be a comparatively young state, it’s nonetheless rich with history, lore and fun facts. Unfortunately, some of those facts aren’t quite so … factual. In this new series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.
 

The Claim: Oklahoma has more shoreline than any other state.

Source: USA Fact File: usacitiesonline.com/usafactfile.htm

Fact Check: This may be the most frequently repeated myth about Oklahoma. Although the state is one of 20 that have no shoreline on either an ocean or one of the Great Lakes, the claim keeps circulating because of the lack of a single national database that totals all types of shoreline, and differences of opinion on what counts as shoreline and how it is measured.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state with the most shoreline is Alaska, with 33,904 miles. Second place is Florida, with 8,436 miles of coastline. Third is Louisiana’s 7,721 miles.

The Oklahoma argument for claiming more shoreline than any other state is along these lines: Sure, we have no ocean or Great Lakes frontage, but we have a lot of lakeshore!

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board notes that Oklahoma has approximately 3,000 lakes and ponds 10 acres or more in size, including more than 200 man-made lakes. The OWRB lists 55,646 miles of shoreline along lakes and ponds. (Even within the state, there is disagreement on the numbers; the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation claims the state has 11,600 miles of shoreline.)

A major flaw in this argument is that it does not take into account that every other state also has interior lakes. Minnesota, for example, counts 11,842 lakes sized 10 acres or larger, compared to Oklahoma’s 3,000. And according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska has 3 million lakes of 5 acres or more, many of them seasonal snowmelt.

Boosters point out that Oklahoma boasts 1,401 square miles of water area in its lakes and ponds. Which is great … but by way of comparison, the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, measures 31,700 square miles.

But wait — not so fast! Oklahoma also has thousands of miles of rivers and streams. Be sure to count them!

The INDUS Corporation, under contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has done just that. Its 2012 survey mapped 150,022 miles of linear rivers and streams in Oklahoma. More than three-quarters of them – 77 percent, or 115,611 miles – are classified as “intermittent or ephemeral flow,” containing water only part of the year or after heavy rains. The OWRB comes up with slightly higher numbers, listing 167,600 miles of rivers and streams. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation claims 78,500 miles of rivers and streams.

Regardless, the INDUS survey finds that other states contain even more streams and rivers. Texas, for example, has 1,589,190 miles of rivers and streams, with 29 percent (454,453 miles) intermittent or ephemeral.

Sometime after the state’s mid-century building boom of man-made lakes, it is likely that an Oklahoma booster added the miles of shoreline of the state’s ponds and lakes and rivers and streams, realized that the total was more than any other state’s seashore and greater than that of the Atlantic Coast (28,673 miles), Gulf Coast (17,141 miles) and Pacific Coast (40,298 miles) – and declared Oklahoma the champion of all, a claim that has been passed on in conversation, guidebooks and school worksheets ever since.
However – sorry to burst our state’s watery bubble – it simply isn’t so.

Another big-picture measure of the prevalence of water in each state is offered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its 2010 survey calculated the total land area and water area of each state, including inland and coastal water.

Oklahoma ranks 35th among the states, with its surface divided between 1.9% water and 98.1% land, far below the national average of 7% liquid.


Highest
Michigan 41.5%
Hawaii 41.2%
Rhode Island 33.1%
Massachusetts 26.1%
Maryland 21.8%
Delaware 21.7%
Florida 18.5%
Louisiana 17.5%
Wisconsin 17.3%

Lowest
Oklahoma 1.9%
South Dakota 1.7%
Indiana 1.6%
Missouri 1.4%
Idaho 1.1%
Montana 1%
West Virginia 0.8%
Iowa 0.7%
Nevada 0.7%
Nebraska 0.7%
Wyoming 0.7%
Kansas 0.6%
Colorado 0.4%
Arizona 0.3%
New Mexico 0.2%

 

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Calendar

December 2019

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

The Holiday Pop-Up Shops are coming back to Midtown! With shops rotating weekly, you can find a gift for everyone on your list. Join us to discover 35+ local shops, enjoy treats from Katiebug's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Midtown
399 N.W. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Contact Name: Cleo Rajon

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Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

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October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

Don’t miss Canterbury Voices’ encore performance of Eugene Goossen’s arrangement of Handel’s masterwork, Messiah! In 2017, over 2000 took in the lush arrangement featuring a...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Canterbury Voices
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

The American Spirit Dance Company, under the direction of Jo Rowan, presents Home for the Holidays, which has become a yearly tradition for families across the state and beyond, as the vision of...

Cost: 29

Where:
Kirkpatrick Aud.
2501 N. Blackwelder Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73016
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Sponsor: The Ann Lacy School of American Dance & Entertainment
Telephone: 405-208-4955
Contact Name: Danielle Shipley

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Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

"I've never seen anything like this before!" -Roy Clark, Country Music Hall of Fame. "Hell of a musician, that's for sure." -Charley Pride. "Ken Burns and I...

Cost: $20 per person, cash or check

Where:
UCO Jazz Lab
100 E. 5th St.
Edmond, OK  73034
View map »


Telephone: 405-808-8804
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Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

The Holiday Pop-Up Shops are coming back to Midtown! With shops rotating weekly, you can find a gift for everyone on your list. Join us to discover 35+ local shops, enjoy treats from Katiebug's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Midtown
399 N.W. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Contact Name: Cleo Rajon

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the McKnight Center stage this holiday season. It’s a family adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what...

Cost: Varying

Where:
McKnight Center Performance Hall
419 S. Monroe
Stillwater, OK  74074
View map »

More information

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The Holiday Pop-Up Shops are coming back to Midtown! With shops rotating weekly, you can find a gift for everyone on your list. Join us to discover 35+ local shops, enjoy treats from Katiebug's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Midtown
399 N.W. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Contact Name: Cleo Rajon

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

LIVE! on the Plaza is the Plaza District's free & monthly artwalk featuring art shows, live entertainment, great food and local shopping. Join us as we celebrate one of Oklahoma City's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Plaza District
1624 N Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Plaza District Association
Telephone: 405.578.5718
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

The Holiday Pop-Up Shops are coming back to Midtown! With shops rotating weekly, you can find a gift for everyone on your list. Join us to discover 35+ local shops, enjoy treats from Katiebug's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Midtown
399 N.W. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Contact Name: Cleo Rajon

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
200 Bass Pro Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Telephone: (405) 218-5200

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event returning to Cabela’s this holiday season. Oklahoma City-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1200 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Cabela's
Telephone: (405) 546-3500
Website »

More information

Featuring the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Celebrate the season with Oklahoma City’s favorite holiday production, The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s familiar score and Artistic...

Cost: $20-$77

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Ballet
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

We're poppin' champagne on the patio this Saturday and raffling off a bottle of Perrier-Jouet valued at $300! Come pre-party with us and DJ Catherine Ouellette from 6pm-10pm -...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1, N Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

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