This is the last state that we set foot in. We didn’t leave it until last because it’s where the scriptwriters sent Chandler in Friends when he fell asleep in a meeting, it just turned out that way. Oklahoma has interesting history. The land that is now Oklahoma became part of the USA under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1819 the Arkansas Territory was created which included modern day Oklahoma. There was increasing conflict with Indian tribes in the South East of the USA and so the US governmet decided to move the tribes west into unsettled territory. The Arkansas Territory fitted this bill so 1820 and 1825 treaties gave the Choctaw Indians land in the territory. In 1830 the Indian Removal Act gave the government powers to negotiate the removal of Indians living east of the Mississippi River who were not prepared to be assimilated into US culture. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians were all relocated to an area that became known as Indian Territory. Plains Indians and other Midwestern tribes were relocated to land known as the Oklahoma Territory. The 1820 Missouri Compromise had outlawed slavery in Louisiana Purchase lands north of the 36°30′ parallel so when Texas joined the USA in 1845 it had to abandon some land in the north of its panhandle. In 1902 the Indian Territory sought to become Sequoyah state, but the the US government was not keen. Instead it encouraged Oklahoma Territory, Indian Territory and the land ceded by Texas to form the state of Oklahoma. Statehood was achieved in 1907.
Clinton Lake, near Foss
From the brief history in the introduction above, you would think that the people of Oklahoma would be mainly of Indian descent. This picture of Lake Clinton shows why that is not the case - Oklahoma has water and fertile soil, conditions that were very attractive to settlers. In 1889 the US government negotiated treaties with the Creeks and the Seminoles to sell some of their land for settlement of ‘other tribes and free men’. In 1893 the government purchased rights form the Cherokee Nation to settle the Cherokee strip in the north of Oklahoma. Each of these purchases resulted in a Land Rush (or Land Run) by settlers eager to secure some land. In 1898 the Curtis Act abolished tribal control of the Indian Territories and another Land Run followed in 1899. In less than a decade Oklahoma had changed from predominantly Indian land to mainly settled land. The settlers did well until in the 1930s drought particularly in the west of the state caused Dust Bowl conditions where the wind stripped away the dry topsoil. Many settlers had to abandon their farms and migrate west to California. The plight of these farmers was graphically described by John Steinbeck in his novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City
When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the capital was initially at Guthrie, which had been the Territorial capital since 1890. In 1910 the people of Oklahoma voted to move the capital to Oklahoma City. The government moved to Oklahoma City that year, but since there were no government buildings there they had to operate out of a hotel. The architectural company Layton and Smith were selected to design a capitol, but the work was thrown into disarray in 1911 when architect James Watson Hawk left the company. As a result the design for a Beaux Arts style capitol was not submitted to the State Capitol Commission until 1914. The plans did not not include a dome, but the central square rotunda was designed to take the weight of a dome if the Commission required it. The cost of a dome split the Commission, so the capitol was built without it. You will notice that the capitol in the picture has a dome. This was added in 2001-2 in preparation for the celebration of the centennial of statehood. The capitol is built on the Oklahoma City Oil Field and it is the only state capitol with active oil rigs in its grounds. The capitol is open for public tours.
Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Tulsa
Tulsa was the place that we visited in 2001 to complete our full house of all 50 states. Our journey to Tulsa from Kansas was rather slow because we had to travel though an absolutely spectacular thunderstorm. Arriving much later than expected, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city. By chance we came across one of the sights of Tulsa, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. The 65 metre (225 foot) high tower of this Art Deco church stands out in the evening sunshine. The design of the church was a collaboration between a team from architectural firm Rush, Endacott and Rush of Tulsa and Adah Robinson, chair of the art department in the University of Tulsa. Bruce Goff from Rush, Endacott and Rush is largely credited with the external design and and Robinson with the interior. The church was built between 1924 and 1929 and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. Guided tours are offered on a Sunday after the church service.
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We have more pages on Oklahoma. Click below or on the Minimap:
Route 66 Museum, Clinton
The legendary Route 66 was a road that ran from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. The route was designated in 1926 but it was not until 1938 that it was paved along its entire length. After World War II the construction of the Interstate system began to make it redundant and in 1984 following the opening of the I-40 in Arizona Route 66 was declassified. There are numerous museums dedicated to Route 66 scattered along its length varying from small disorganised places full of seemingly random junk to proper museums that tell the story of this legendary road. Route 66 ran right through the middle of Oklahoma and the Route 66 Museum at Clinton in Oklahoma is one of those museums that tells the story of the road. Click Tab 2 to see inside the museum.
Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum, Norman
Abner E. Norman was commissioned by the US Land Office in 1870 to survey the Unassigned Lands in Oklahoma Territory, in anticipation of settlement of the area. The surveying crew that he supervised burned the words ‘Norman’s Camp’ into an elm tree beside the watering hole near their camp. In 1884 the Santa Fe Railroad was given authority to build a railroad through Oklahoma. The tracks ran close to the engraved elm tree so the depot that was built there became known as Norman. The 1889 Land Rush brought many people to the depot and soon a town sprang up. The place where the tree stood is now the intersection of Classen Boulevard and Lindsay Street in the town of Norman. In 1899 William and Agnes Moore built a ‘Princess Anne’ style home in the town. In 1907 the Moores moved to Oklahoma City and sold the house to Harry and Daisy Lindsay. When Daisy died in 1951 the house was sold and divided into apartments. The City of Norman purchased the house in 1973 and they restored it for use as a museum. The Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum is operated by Cleveland County Historical Society and is open to the public.