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It’s the only water course of significance between Crutcho Creek on the east and Crooked Oak Creek on the west (we’ll do Crooked Oak soon). There is no apparent reason for calling it Cherry Creek, since no cherries grow anywhere in this area. At any rate, it’s a minor stream that we can cover in one post, though it took two days to shoot because something interfered with the process. The source is a fairly high ridge just north of SE 67th near Bryant Avenue. In this image, the creek starts somewhere off to the left and above the patch of woods on the back lot of a drilling outfit. While there is a tinhorn running under this backroad, the creek itself doesn’t take shape until far below this slight elevation. The second image here (above right) shows a broad open draw where rain would run down from either side and into the center background of the picture.
It’s not until a half-mile downstream that it looks anything like a creek, where it runs under SE 59th (image right). This was taken Saturday and there must have been a bike ride or race, because dozens of cyclists on expensive road bikes came sailing by in little groups, heading west of SE 59th. I received some cordial greetings, of course. Just a short distance around the corner and north on Bryant, the creek tumbles out of an undeveloped field into this concrete culvert. This thing parallels Bryant running northward for more than a half-mile. At that point it swings back east behind an old strip mall and a battered apartment complex. Where it hits SE 44th the water was stagnant and smelled like sewage lying in the bottom of a very wide culvert.
Just across the street on the north side of SE 44th is the Hartsdell district, where the creek is labeled for the first time. It is notorious for flooding enough to surge into some of the homes on either side once every few years. That school house on the right has gotten wet a few times; it’s a ratty old building belonging to OKC Schools, and my first few experiences with substitute teaching after coming home from the military took place there (1993). Cherry Creek runs like this, splitting Hartsdell until it drops off into a natural bed where the double street stops unceremoniously. It runs through some woods and out into an open field with nothing but an oil well sitting in it. You can just make out the heavy foliage in the bottom of the creek bed (image left).
Just across the street is the monster MTM Corporation — I can recall when it was just a single building that did trophies and plaques for local awards. Now they own a half-mile of frontage and a dozen buildings along SE 29th Street. And Cherry Creek comes out from under SE 29th back into a culvert again that splits the MTM property. It stays in a culvert almost all the way across the whole square mile, generally referred to as Epperly Heights (image left), sometimes with vertical walls and sometimes sloped. The only break from this routine is a patch of park behind the Epperly Heights Elementary School (image right). It’s one of numerous Lion’s Club parks in the OKC Metro, but this one is nothing to be proud of, showing few signs of significant use.
As the creek runs farther north across the section, the houses are progressively less well-kept and less expensive in the first place. This battered iron footbridge is likely older than I am, and represents how long this place has been occupied by homes.
Eventually it passes under SE 15th, where I had to contend with the overpowering smell of seasoned frying oil emitting from the Church’s Fried Chicken place off-camera to the right. The creek runs on behind a few very long standing commercial buildings (oh, the stories they could tell) once owned by some real estate scoundrels. Right where Interstate Highway 40 angles across the north end of Del City, the creek ducks under Sunnylane and the interstate all at the same time (image left). Running at an angle, it remains deeply buried for more than a hundred meters and emerges on the far side near a Hyundai car dealership. This access road runs down to Ray Trent Park, which we encountered in the survey of Crutcho Creek. On the right here is a shot of the flood control channel that runs between the two creeks where they come within a hundred meters or so. The city parks built a multi-use path through the park and this shot was taken from a bridge, looking toward Cherry Creek. One branch of that path runs across the creek (above left) and into a housing development.
Back again across the AYSO soccer fields and onto Reno Avenue, it’s still rather close to Crutcho Creek, but not for long. Cherry Creek passes under Reno (image right) and turns west, while Crutcho turns east. But both are pretty much inaccessible for quite some ways here, running through undeveloped woodlands and lots of industrial property. We next see Cherry Creek running under NE 4th, my favorite path into OKC. Almost immediately on the other side of NE 4th the creek runs under a railroad track. This is a section of the old line that ran through Midwest City and out through southern Choctaw (right near where I used to live in that trailer park) and toward Shawnee. It’s no longer in service and the rails are slowing being pulled up one section at a time, so now this spot is just a parking place. That mattress and overstuffed chair are almost certainly washed down from some tramp camp upstream.
Again the creek disappears, but the area is now pretty flat and swampy. It runs behind a concrete mixing yard on one side and a sand-n-gravel depot on the other. The next time we see it is NE 10th. From here we can see where the creek empties into the North Canadian River in the distant background of this image (left). To give you some idea what’s down this way, most of the flood plain is occupied by sand-n-gravel storage, trucking yards, concrete and asphalt mixing plants, and several major oil company tank farms.