The Building of Oklahoma City

Stop 9: SW Corner of W Sheridan and EK Gaylord

A reporter from Harpers Weekly returned to Oklahoma City two months after its birth to find its progress remarkable beyond belief.

William Willard Howard writing an article called "The Building of Oklahoma" in the June 29, 1889 issue of Harper's Weekly, said:

"That Oklahoma would, in the first two months of its existence, get much beyond its chaotic state of tents and hap-hazard existence was not thought possible even by those enthusiasts whose imaginations were as rosy as the soil of the Oklahoma uplands; that it would in that time have better buildings than many Western towns ten years old was simply not thought of at all.

"The wonderful rapidity with which Oklahoma City and Guthrie [e]merged from what at first appeared to be confused camps of holiday excursionists into matter-of-fact towns of excessively practical ways of thought, showed plainly the dominating influence of the experienced Kansas town-builder. No people other than those who had grown skillful in the work of building pioneer towns in the West could have created a town of such compactness, completeness, and future promise as Oklahoma City in the incredibly short space of time of two months. The result shows that the new citizens of Oklahoma had planned what to do weeks ahead, that they had ordered their lumber and other building supplies, and that, with the exception of delays unavoidable in a pioneer country, they had carried out their arrangements like clock-work."

  • 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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