CONNERVILLE — More than 75 people gathered Friday, March 17, to dedicate a historic route, "Hughes Crossing," on the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area in Johnston County.

"The Hughes family recognized the recreational value of this scenic property more than 100 years ago. This dedication today will remind future generations the historical and cultural significance of Hughes Crossing," said Richard Hatcher, assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "We are grateful for the Chickasaw Nation for the partnership in recognizing this unique area."

In addition to members of the Hughes family, Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, and District 20 State Representative Paul Roan were in attendance to commemorate the event.

Hughes Crossing was a low-water crossing sought out by early pioneers that offered shallow water and firm footing for horses and wagons. Today, Wildlife Department officials have provided a concrete slab for traveling across the Blue River.

It all started in 1895 when Mamie Cravatt married Austin Britt Hughes. A year later the U.S. Congress directed the Dawes Commission to begin making out the rolls of Indian citizens in preparation for the land allotment process. As members of the Chickasaw nation, the Hughes family received a total of eight allotments and Mr. Hughes selected his allotments along the Blue River in Johnston County.

Local citizens, traveling from Milburn to Connerville, soon began to call the natural river crossing on the property "Hughes Crossing." The enterprising Austin Britt Hughes, who, with his wife, had 10 children, also recognized the value of the property.

He established a fishing and hunting camp on the east bank of the Blue River, which was also called "Hughes Crossing." Mr. Hughes charged 50 cents a day or $1 a car carrying four passengers for four days of recreation and relaxation.

The Hughes family sold the original allotments to local landowners in 1950. However, in 1967 the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation purchased the property and established the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.

Today, the Blue River in southern Oklahoma is widely known as one of the most scenic areas in the state, attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year. The tumbling waterfalls, rolling hills and excellent facilities of the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area attract visitors from miles around.

Covering more than 3,000 acres, the area attracts a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts, from fishermen and hunters in the fall and winter to campers and picnickers in the spring and summer. Winding through the public fishing and hunting area is six miles of the Blue River. Located four miles east of Tishomingo, in Johnston County, the river supports a wintertime trout season from Nov. 1 to March 31 annually. The river also supports good fishing for channel catfish and sunfish species year-round.

Non-hunting and non-angling visitors will need a Blue River Conservation Passport for entering or using the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area. Residents and non-residents who hold valid annual or lifetime Oklahoma hunting or fishing licenses are exempt from purchasing the $21 passport. Exemptions are also allowed for those under 18 years of age, students on educational tours and those participating in organized events sanctioned in advance by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. This special use permit is used to maintain camping locations, maintain roads and manage wildlife habitat.

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