The City of Chandler’s official website proclaims the Lincoln County seat as “the best kept secret in central Oklahoma.”
That may be true, but the compact community – situated just off Interstate 44, midway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City – could be considered a loosely-guarded secret during this pandemic-plagued year. Officials report that Oklahomans looking for safe, enjoyable recreation have been flocking to Chandler, especially during the summer and fall.
Visitors have found a bevy of entertainment options at the city’s two lakes, Bell Cow Lake and Chandler Lake, both conveniently located just north of I-44; at the rolling nine-hole Chandler Golf Course nearby; and at Chandler’s Route 66 Interpretive Center museum.
The museum, situated on Route 66 on the east side of the city, is dedicated to preserving the nostalgia of America’s Mother Road, which once was the main thoroughfare connecting Chicago and Los Angeles.
Chandler is about 60 miles from Tulsa and 45 from Oklahoma City, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. And, it’s a great bedroom community for those whose jobs are in the aforementioned major metros, says the city’s Chamber of Commerce executive director Marilyn Emde.
“The people are friendly here,” she says. “It’s a good place to raise a family. It has a good, small-town feel.”
David Nickell, Chandler’s public works director, reports that visits to both lakes and the golf course are higher this year than in recent memory. Bell Cow Lake offers fishing, swimming, boating, camping and RV campsites, a walking trail and an equestrian trail. Chandler Lake is primarily a fishing lake, he says.
For those not so interested in outdoor recreation, Route 66 nostalgia continues to be a popular attraction. Susan Pordos, executive director of both the Route 66 Interpretive Center and the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, says that the museum has attracted visitors from all around the state, as well as across the country and world, since its 2007 opening. The Oklahoma Route 66 Association is headquartered inside the Route 66 Interpretive Center – a renovated National Guard Armory built in 1937 and finished with sandstone from a quarry south of town.
The community-wide renovation project took a year to complete, says Pordos, and included upgrades to audio-visual exhibits, memorabilia and an 8,000-square-foot event center, converted from the former military drill hall. She says visits to the museum, though down slightly from last year, have picked up in recent weeks.
Mayor Gene Imel terms Chandler, with an estimated 3,200 population, the ideally-sized community.
“It’s a great town to live in,” he says. “Whatever you need, we have here.”
Another attraction is the Lincoln County Historical Society’s Museum of Pioneer History. Among its exhibits is a display of memorabilia from the colorful career of Bill Tilghman, a noted Old West lawman who served as Lincoln County sheriff in 1900 and 1902. Tilghman, once an assistant U.S. Marshal, is best known for single-handedly capturing notorious outlaw Bill Doolin and helping track down other members of Doolin’s gang, according to Oklahoma Historical Society records.
The annual Chandler Christmas Festival, sponsored by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Dec. 4. The Christmas Parade is set for Dec. 5.
City Government: chandlerok.com