The '89er Trail

Sharing the Story of Oklahoma City's Birth

At high noon on a bright and clear Monday, April 22, 1889, a drama roared to life when mounted soldiers fired their guns and blew their bugles to signal that the Land Run of 1889 was on. An estimated 50,000 people began the race from the perimeter boundaries of Oklahoma Territory's Unassigned Lands.

By the end of the day, settlers had staked out claims for the townsite known as "Oklahoma Station" better known today as Oklahoma City. Those first few months of the city's birth witnessed land disputes between Boomers and legitimate settlers, lot jumping triggered by competing land surveys, duels between leading citizens, and incredible perseverance.

The '89er Trail brings history alive with historical markers placed at the actual site the events took place. As you take this walk through history, listen to the story of Oklahoma City's birth on your mobile device. Each marker is your gateway to learn even more with links to additional stories, photos and podcasts.

Completion of the historical markers and this website is currently underway.

The '89er Trail Timeline


The Homestead Act opens up settlement in the western U.S. by allowing any adult American to claim up to 160 acres of free federal land. 15,000 claims are made by the end of the Civil War.


The Civilized Tribes are forced to cede large portions of their land, including the Unassigned Lands, to the U.S. Government for relocation of other Native American nations.


Boomers begin attempts to settle in the Unassigned Lands. The U.S. military repeatedly forces them out.


The Santa Fe Railroad from Kansas to Texas is completed. Multiple stops are opened in the Unassigned Lands.

January-March 1889

Creek and Seminole Nations release claims to the Unassigned Lands, and Congress approves opening the land for settlement.

March-April 1889

"Boomer camps" pop up along and inside the borders of the Unassigned Lands.

March 23, 1889

President Harrison's Proclamation sets noon on April 22 as the time and date for the Land Run

April 19, 1889

Prospective settlers are escorted from the Kansas and Texas borders to the perimeter of the Unassigned Lands. Those already inside are required to leave.

April 20, 1889

Land east of the railroad tracks at Oklahoma Station is reserved for military use

April 22, 1889 at noon

Oklahoma Land Run officially begins.

April 23, 1889

The first mass meeting is called. A Citizens' Committee of 14 is elected and instructed to conduct a survey.

April 27, 1889

Conflicting surveys are reconciled and approved at a second mass meeting. A temporary mayor is elected.

May 1, 1889

The first formal election is held. A mayor and city council are chosen.

May 23-24, 1889

Cheyenne and Arapahoe leaders meet with federal officials to discuss the sale of land claims outside the Unassigned Lands.

July 16, 1889

The election to adopt a new city charter written by Kickapoo dissenters is shut down by the mayor.

August 29, 1889

A new city charter written by supporters of the mayor is overwhelmingly rejected at the polls.

September 17, 1889

Six congressmen visit the city for a first-hand look at Oklahoma country.

September 21, 1889

Another Kickapoo charter election is broken up by the U.S. military.

November 11, 1889

Mayor W.L. Couch resigns after a summer and fall of political unrest.

November 27, 1889

Dr. A. J. Beale, a Kickapoo leader, is elected to replace Mayor Couch.

December 1889

Federal officials order Mayor Beale to stop challenges to existing property ownership, effectively shutting down city government

May 2, 1889

The Oklahoma Organic Act sets federal rules to establish territorial government.

July 15, 1890

Oklahoma City incorporated

August 9, 1890

W.J. Gault is elected the first mayor of Oklahoma City after incorporation.

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