Saturday, February 22, 2014

Facts about Wymee Falls and Wichita Falls

The action in my Imogene Duckworthy novels take place in and around Wymee Falls. The town of Wymee Falls is fictional, but it’s based on the real Texas town of Wichita Falls. I lived in that part of the world for a few years. If you’ve read one or all of the three books so far, you may have come into contact with some of the below. I’d like to elaborate, though, on just what the town is about. Personally, the waterfall, below, is hilarious. It’s why I decided to base the series there. I haven’t worked the World’s Smallest Skyscraper, another very funny thing,  into a plot yet, but there’s plenty of time for that in later books.

Some interesting facts about Wichita Falls, Texas.

The town of Wichita Falls, called Wymee Falls in my Imogene Duckworthy mysteries, has a colorful history.

Some early history & the story of the waterfall

The Choctaw Indians were there since the early 1700s. White settlers showed up in the 1860s and ranched cattle. The town was named after a small waterfall on the Wichita River, really more of a rapids. A flood in1886 destroyed the fragile water works. After visitors asked to see the waterfall, fruitlessly, for about a hundred years, the town elders decided to build one. Just off I44, in Lucy Park, the nice-looking, medium-sized waterfall (54 feet high) runs on a pump, except when the water level gets low and the water gets too silty. Gotta be careful not to damage the pump.

The World's Smallest Skyscraper

The city also houses the World's Smallest Skyscraper. A swindler collected funds to build an actual skyscraper, then constructed a four-story building with one room 9x12 on each floor. A fourth of that space is taken up by staircases between the floors. This was during the boom after the discovery of oil nearby. I suppose it was logical that the city could use more office space. The con man, J.D. McMahon, drew up blueprints for a building 480" tall. He didn't point out that his scale used inches, not feet. After construction got started, his investors suspected something. They tried to sue, but lost. They had signed off on the blueprints, clearly drawn in inches. When the "skyscraper" was finished, McMahon left town with most of the money. This was an embarrassment to the town until it was featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not and got its billing as World's Smallest Skyscraper. Now it's a tourist attraction--along with the fake waterfall.


The town is in a major tornado path. We spent a good deal of time cowering in the bath tub, listening to the sirens, when we lived there. It's been hit by two major tornados, in 1964 and 1979. Seven people died in the first one, but 42 perished in the later storm. Twenty-five of those were in vehicles, since it hit during afternoon rush hour.


Temperature records range from a high of 117 in June of 1947 to -12 in January of 1924, from the records I found, but those don't include last year. In 2011, July was an average 92.9 degrees, with 52 straight days over 100 from late June to early August. I call this area a place of harsh climate with warm-hearted people. None of them resemble the characters in the Imogene Duckworthy books!

Most of the above is from wikipedia.


Barry Knister said...

Wymee (why me?) indeed. Just as a Trivial Pursuit offering among writers, I named a character for a certain person from rock & roll, Bill Wyman. My character--a dog--has this name, but is always spoken to in the familiar form, as Wymee. Perhaps you also intend the pun to be up and running with the name.

Gale Albright said...

Faux falls and faux skyscraper. What a place for Immy!

Kaye George said...

Barry, I can't say why I parodied the name exactly like that. It just seemed right. Maybe Wymee is one of those words that floats around in the ether waiting to be grabbed.

Gale, exactly. It's a very funny place! But gosh, do I miss the grocery store, Market Street. And the sterling people.