The Land Run

Stop 4: Between W Reno and W Sheridan on the east side of the road along EK Gaylord Blvd, Downtown

Oklahoma City and Guthrie, a dozen other towns, and thousands of farms were settled in a day.

The Run of '89 gave birth to Oklahoma City, which today is the state's capital and largest city. It also marked the beginning of Guthrie, where the land office registered claims. Guthrie served as the territorial and state capital from 1890 until 1910 when it was unceremoniously removed to Oklahoma City. At least a dozen towns were established in the Run including Edmond, Norman, Kingfisher, and Stillwater. Most were near railroad or stage stops thought to be prime locations for future cities.

For months before the opening, excitement spread across the country for the opportunity to claim free land in Oklahoma. Opportunists, speculators, and drifters from every state made their way to the Kansas and Texas borders. Prospective townsite companies were organized to speculate on the sale of town lots. Eligible settlers included men over age 21, whether or not American citizens, women married or over 21, and children accompanied by eligible adults. Those who had visited the land before were required to retreat to the boundaries at least three days before the opening. As the fateful day approached, thousands of people gathered their belongings for the mad dash across the prairie.

  • 1862
    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.
  • 1866
    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.
  • 1880
    Boomers begin attempts to settle in the Unassigned Lands. The U.S. military repeatedly forces them out.
  • 1887
    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.


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