The local parks and recreation department operates numerous facilities including an auditorium, gymnasium and community center. Linda Wiginton Aquatic Center offers outdoor as well as indoor water recreation year-round. The Greens of Altus is a traditional nine-hole golf course featuring 3,363 yards with a par of 36. Altus Lake, Hoyt Shadid Park and Altus City Reservoir offer water sports and recreation right in the heart of town. Museum of the Western Prairie chronicles the history of southwest Oklahoma with exhibits and events year-round. Altus, OK hosts numerous holiday and seasonal celebrations as well as live theatrical and musical performances.
Altus Air Force Base has a major economic impact on Altus, OK and the surrounding region. AAFB is the Air Force’s primary training site for major aircraft and employs nearly 3,000 civilian/military personnel. In addition, Jackson County Memorial Hospital (JCMH), Bar-S Foods, Altus Public Schools and City of Altus are major employers. JCMH provides community health and education for residents of southwest Oklahoma and north Texas. Western Oklahoma State College, Southwest Technology Center, Altus Christian Academy and Altus Public Schools are educational institutions serving students locally. The area is served by five different railroads and offers access to major southwest Oklahoma thoroughfares.
Altus was founded as “Frazer” in 1886 and served as a trading post on the Great Western Cattle Trail. It was known locally as “Buttermilk Station” due to its popularity as a stopping point along this route. Following a flood in 1891, residents moved to higher ground and the town was renamed Altus, which is a Latin word meaning high. The arrival or railroads in the early 1900s stimulated the economy and made Altus a regional agricultural center.
The weather is humid subtropical bordering on semi-arid. Summers tend to be hot and rainfall is occasionally heavy due to Gulf of Mexico influences. Autumn is brief with cool mornings and warm afternoons, while winters are extremely variable. Annual averages include 29 inches of rain and 246 sunny days.