ARDMORE — The limestone slabs — cut by hand from the southern Oklahoma earth and stacked skyward — tower over the glimmering blue waters of Lake Murray.
Tucker Tower, a 78-year-old Oklahoma landmark, was going to be a governor's retreat when the Works Project Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps laborers finished construction in 1935. Depression-era workers cut the slabs from the limestone in the lake area starting in 1933.
But the structure never was used by the state's governors.
Instead, the tower became a favorite place for visitors to climb for a sweeping view of the water.
Flooring was added in 1956, but no other work was done until two years ago.
Now, a $3 million, 4,000-square-foot addition — The Nature Center at Tucker Tower — and a $500,000 makeover to the structure have been completed. The work started in July 2011 and was done in March, said park naturalist Mark Teders with the state Tourism and Recreation Department.
Teders, 58, has lived and worked at Tucker Tower for 35 years. Since the tower reopened in March, after being closed to the public two years, there have been 25,000 visitors. That breaks down to about 400 people on the weekends and several hundred throughout the week, he said.
Labor Day will be the tower's last day of summer hours and programs, he said.