Outside Draw and Inside Charm

Davis has Turner Falls and other areas for those who enjoy physical activity, but also an old-fashioned aura in town.

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Turner Falls is a big draw to the area – but the town of Davis' charm is just as special.

Davis is paradise for people who love the outdoors … and those trying to escape the hottest parts of an August day.

Turner Falls is one of the most-visited swimming, camping and hiking spots in Oklahoma. Action also abounds at Air Donkey Zipline Adventure, 777 Zipline, Cross Bar Ranch ATV Park, River Bottom Tubing and Arbuckle Wilderness.

But even the bravest of souls enjoy respite from blazing temperatures. Close-knit Davis proper provides relief.

Turner Falls is a big draw to the area – but the town of Davis’ charm is just as special.

City Drug Store, in operation since Indian Territory days of the late 1880s, has an old-fashioned soda fountain serving malts, shakes and pimento cheese sandwiches.

“For $1, you’ve got a homemade sandwich,” says Heidi Wright, whose family has owned the store since 1970. “The secret’s in the magical bowl. You can take the same ingredients and try it at home, but it doesn’t taste as good.”

Wright, who does “everything from cleaning to dispensing the meds,” bought the business from her uncle, Randy Moore, in 2010. She, like her predecessors, sells 10-cent coffee and 50-cent soft drinks while maintaining a place to socialize.

“Our fountain isn’t a money-maker, but it’s a drawing card,” Wright says. “The tile work is original – over 100 years old. It’s a tradition in Davis. I worked here as a soda jerk in high school. This is the place in Davis where you come.”

Wright gets “a ton of tourists in the summer. They feel like they’re stepping back in time. It’s Norman Rockwellish.”

Another rustic place loved by locals is Kerri’s Dougherty Diner. Kerri Buckaloo says the original owners – in Dougherty, 12 miles southeast – moved it after it had burned down twice.

Buckaloo took over three years ago after Joe Wells, her boss at Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch, saw that she had a nose for business and encouraged her to buy the diner.

“We’re two different entities; we’re not competitors,” Buckaloo says. “He’s barbecue, and we serve 100-percent American, farm-raised catfish. It’s more flavorful.”

The strawberry cake, from her grandmother’s recipe, “is also a huge hit. It’s moist and sweet enough that you want some more.”

FUN FACTS

  • Population
    2,802
  • Chickasaw Chocolate
    Bedre Fine Chocolate, owned by the Chickasaw Nation since 2000, has a 34,600-square-foot facility where visitors can see scores of products made.
  • Almost Chigley
    Samuel H. Davis began a dry goods store in 1887; three years later, he moved it 4 miles north to land owned by Nelson Chigley, a Chickasaw. Davis started the post office and wanted the town to be called Chigley. However, that name was in use as a village 7 miles northeast, so the stop known as Davis Store on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway became Davis in 1898.
  • Why Not Mazeppa?
    Scottish immigrant farmer Mazeppa Turner married Laura Johnson, a Chickasaw. He is credited with discovering the waterfalls named for him in 1878. At 77 feet high, they are tied with those in Natural Falls State Park as the tallest in Oklahoma. The city of Davis bought the falls and surrounding park in 1919 and ran them until 1950, when it leased the property. The town regained operating rights in 1978.

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