Altus, Oklahoma
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Altus, Oklahoma
Altus, Oklahoma
Jackson County Courthouse in Altus
Jackson County Courthouse in Altus
"City with a future to share"[1]
Location of Altus, Oklahoma
Location of Altus, Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°38?38?N 99°19?36?W / 34.64389°N 99.32667°W / 34.64389; -99.32667Coordinates: 34°38?38?N 99°19?36?W / 34.64389°N 99.32667°W / 34.64389; -99.32667
CountryUnited States
 o TypeCouncil-Manager
 o MayorJack Smiley
 o City ManagerJanice Cain
 o Total18.57 sq mi (48.10 km2)
 o Land18.37 sq mi (47.58 km2)
 o Water0.20 sq mi (0.52 km2)
Elevation1,398 ft (426 m)
 o Total19,813
 o Estimate 
 o Density998.26/sq mi (385.42/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 o Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)580
FIPS code40-01700 [6]

Altus is a city and the county seat in Jackson County, Oklahoma, United States.[7] The population was 19,813 at the 2010 census,[4] a loss of 7.7 percent compared to 21,454 at the 2000 census.[8]

Altus is home to Altus Air Force Base, the United States Air Force training base for C-17, KC-46 and KC-135 aircrews. It is also home to Western Oklahoma State College and Southwest Technology Center.


The town that would later be named Altus was founded in 1886.[9] The community was originally called "Frazer", a settlement of about 50 people on Bitter Creek that served as a trading post on the Great Western Cattle Trail. Cowboys driving herds northward often stopped to buy buttermilk from John McClearan. Thus, the town was known locally as "Buttermilk Station". The Frazer post office opened February 18, 1886. A flash flood nearly destroyed Frazer on June 4, 1891. The residents moved to higher ground 2.5 miles (4.0 km) east of the original site. W. R. Baucum suggested renaming the town "Altus", a Latin word meaning "high". This name stuck, although the town was also known as "Leger" from July 10, 1901, to May 14, 1904.[10]

The city has seen relatively steady growth since the beginning. The population doubled between the time of Oklahoma statehood and the 1910 census and even increased during the Great Depression.[11] Although Altus had been designated as the Jackson county seat at the time of statehood, an election was held in 1908 to determine the permanent seat. The two towns contending were Altus and Olustee. Altus won by a vote of 2,077 to 1,365. The county courthouse was built there in 1910.[10] An irrigation project in the 1940s and World War II led to further growth in the town as the nearby airfield was used to train military pilots.[11]

Altus was an important city on the defunct Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway, one of the Frank Kell and Joseph A. Kemp properties, which stretched from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Forgan in Beaver County in far northwestern Oklahoma. It was later purchased by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and since 1991 is operated by the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway.[12]

In 1908, the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway (acquired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1929) built a line through Altus. Around the same time, the Altus, Wichita Falls and Hollis Railway (which became the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway in 1911, then was acquired by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway in 1922) constructed a line from Altus to the Oklahoma-Texas border. The railroads stimulated economic growth in the area and made Altus a regional agricultural center. By 1930, Altus had eight cotton gins, two cotton compresses, and eighteen wholesale businesses.[10]


Altus is located in northeastern Jackson County. It is situated in what used to be Old Greer County, an area with disputed ownership until a Supreme Court decision awarded it to Oklahoma Territory instead of Texas.[11] The city lies between the main channel and North Fork of the Red River.[11]

U.S. Routes 62 and 283 cross in the center of Altus. US 62 leads east 73 miles (117 km) to Lawton, Oklahoma, and west 66 miles (106 km) to Childress, Texas, while US 283 leads north 23 miles (37 km) to Mangum, Oklahoma, and south 34 miles (55 km) to Vernon, Texas.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Altus has a total area of 18.6 square miles (48.1 km2), of which 18.4 square miles (47.6 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2), or 1.08%, are water.[4]


Altus has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) bordering upon a semi-arid climate (BSk). Summers are very hot to sweltering, though occasionally heavy rainfall does occur due to remains of Gulf of Mexico hurricanes moving inland. In the absence of these storms, Altus can be among the hottest places in North America: the record high of 120 °F or 48.9 °C recorded twice during 1936 has been exceeded by only Kansas and the western states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.[13]

Autumn is brief, with generally very warm afternoons and comfortably cool mornings, while winter is extremely variable. Chinook winds can sometimes raise temperatures to uncomfortably hot even in the low winter sun, in the process often drying out vegetation to produce wildfires. On the other hand, if a block forms over the Gulf of Alaska very cold air can be driven into the Plains States from Canada, producing temperatures below 0 °F or -17.8 °C in extreme cases. Such cold temperatures on average occur once every three winters, although on average 78.5 mornings each year fall to or below the freezing point. Snowfall is rare and erratic: the most in a months being 16.1 inches (0.41 m) in January 1966, while most rainfall comes during the unsettled spring season, when heavy thunderstorms can occur from the convergence of hot and cold air masses to produce very intense short-period rainfall. The wettest month has been May 1980 with 13.34 inches (338.8 mm), whilst zero precipitation has on occasion been recorded in every month except May and June, and the wettest 24 hour period on October 20, 1983 with 7.10 inches (180.3 mm). The wettest calendar year has been 1941 with 49.30 inches (1,252.2 mm) and the driest 1970 with 10.42 inches (264.7 mm).

Climate data for Altus, Oklahoma (elevation 1,380 feet or 420 metres)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 88
Average high °F (°C) 53.1
Average low °F (°C) 26.8
Record low °F (°C) -11
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.93
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.8
Average precipitation days 4 4 5 6 8 7 5 6 6 6 4 4 64
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center[14]


As of the census of 2010, there were 19,813 people living in the city.[4] The population density was 1,200 people per square mile (450/km2). There were 8,890 housing units at an average density of 540 per square mile (205/km2).[4] The racial makeup of the city was 72.62% White, 10.41% African American, 1.48% Native American, 1.38% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 10.32% from other races, and 3.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.25% of the population.

There were 7,896 households, out of which 38.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 29.8% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 17.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,217, and the median income for a family was $38,400. Males had a median income of $28,041 versus $18,856 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,378. About 14.6% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.7% of those under age 18 and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

  • Lake Altus-Lugert, about 18 miles (29 km) to the north
  • Great Plains State Park, on Tom Steed Reservoir, about 30 miles (48 km) east-northeast.[20]
  • Altus City Reservoir, including 18-hole disc golf course
  • Altus Dog Park (at Altus City Reservoir)[21]
  • The Greens of Altus, previously the Elks Golf & Country Club, a 9-hole municipal golf course constructed in 1941.[22]
  • A City Gymnasium, a City Auditorium, and both a Community Center East Section and a Community Center West Section.[23]
  • A city pool, at the Linda Wiginton Aquatic Center.[23]
  • Altus Splashpad (opened in 2018)[24]
  • Altus Senior Activity Center, 221 N. Park Lane (opened in 2018)[25]
  • Morgan Doll Museum
  • Altus City Park
  • Altus Air Force Base
  • Museum of the Western Prairie
  • Frisco 1615 is a steam locomotive built by ALCO in 1917 as a 2-10-0 Russian locomotive class Ye (commonly called a "Russian Decapod").[26] It was purchased from Frisco by Eagle Picher Industries Inc in 1951 and used to haul lead and zinc from the Picher Field to the E-P mill in Miami, Oklahoma until 1954.[26] It was acquired by the City of Altus, Oklahoma on October 22, 1967, and remains on static display there at the Altus Parks and Recreation Complex on E Katy Drive.[26]


The public schools of Altus are in Oklahoma School District number 18. In the Altus Public School District there are nine schools, including five elementary schools, an intermediate school, a junior high school, a high school, and a learning center. For the 2011-2012 school year there were approximately 3,851 students.[27] The school website is

Western Oklahoma State College and Southwest Technology Center provide opportunities for higher education in the area.[10]

Notable people



  1. ^ "The City of Altus Oklahoma". City of Altus. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Altus, Oklahoma
  4. ^ a b c d e "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Altus city, Oklahoma". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "CensusViewer:Altus, Oklahoma Population." Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Altus Archived 2010-10-26 at the Wayback Machine, Oklahoma State University County Extension Service (accessed May 10, 2010)
  10. ^ a b c d Herron, Frances (2009). "Altus". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (online ed.). Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d Reconnaissance Level Survey of Certain Parts of the City of Altus (PDF) (Report). Oklahoma Historical Society. 1993. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2016. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ Hofsommer, Donovan L. (June 15, 2010). "Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2013.
  13. ^ "Record Highest Temperatures by State (through 2003)" (PDF). NOAA. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ "Population-Oklahoma" (PDF). U.S. Census 1910. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ "Population-Oklahoma" (PDF). 15th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013.
  17. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Oklahoma" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Oklahoma: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013.
  19. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  20. ^ "Great Plains State Park to Altus, Oklahoma". Google Maps. Retrieved 2020.
  21. ^ "Altus Parks | Altus, OK". Retrieved .
  22. ^ "The Greens of Altus Golf Course". Golf Advisor. Retrieved 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Facilities". The City of Altus. Retrieved 2020.
  24. ^ "Splash pad to make a splash in Altus | Altus Times". Altus Times. 2018-05-05. Archived from the original on 2018-10-04. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "Senior Activity Center opens | Altus Times". Altus Times. 2018-05-08. Archived from the original on 2018-10-04. Retrieved .
  26. ^ a b c "SLSF #1615". Retrieved 2020.
  27. ^ "Altus Public Schools". Altus Public Schools. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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