AUTO TRAILS Back Roads into the Past
AUTO TRAILSBack Roads into the Past

Durant to Ardmore

Junction with Leavenworth Trail (7.3 miles west of Durant on U.S. 70)

Near this intersection was the border between the Choctaw Nation and the Chickasaw Nation. The boundary traveled northwest from the Red River up Island Bayou to its headwaters. From there, it followed a north-south line north to the Canadian River. 


Roosevelt Bridge (Eastern Approach, 6.8 miles west of Leavenworth Trail on U.S. 70)

This structure, the longest highway bridge in Oklahoma, was constructed in 1942 during the last full year of the Works Progress Administration.


Kingston (5.9 miles west of eastern approach to Roosevelt Bridge on U.S. 70)

Established in 1894 in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, this town was named for Jeff King, a local resident. The Kingston post office was established on April 4th, 1894, with John F. Robinson as postmaster. The settlement included a general store, a cotton gin, and a schoolhouse that served as a church. In 1900, construction of the St. Louis, Oklahoma & Southern Railway progressed through Indian Territory, and town sites were surveyed along the right-of-way. A station was established some two miles northeast of Kingston on the land of James Hampton Willis, a Chickasaw, and was named in honor of his daughter, Helen. Kingston's post office and businesses moved there to be near the railroad. Attempts to have the post office name changed to Helen were unsuccessful, as there was already a Helena, Indian Territory. Because confusion resulted from the station and post office having different designations, railroad officials renamed the depot Kingston.


Kingston's early residents designed projects to attract business. Traders' Day was initiated in June of 1906 to promote community progress. The monthly event featured entertainment and contests. With statehood and the formation of Marshall County in 1907, an election ensued between Madill and Kingston to determine the county seat. Madill won, but Kingston continued to grow and prosper. By 1917, the town was home to various enterprises including an ice factory, two banks, and four cotton gins. Telephone and telegraph services were available, and early newspapers were the Kingston Messenger and the Marshall County Messenger.


After World War I ended, the town declined. A drought began in Marshall County during the 1920s, and a boll weevil infestation damaged area cotton crops. Local farmers' problems were compounded by soil depletion. Soon the whole nation was in the Great Depression, and many Oklahomans migrated to find work. The 1938 Kingston telephone book listed only eleven businesses.[i]

Side Trip to James Bounds Barn (Oklahoma Highway 32 West, Oklahoma Highway 70F North)

James Bounds Barn (2.4 miles west on OK 32, 1 mile north on OK 70F at Williams Road)

The area of the Bounds Y-Bar Ranch was initially part of the lands assigned to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations during the 1830s. The Chickasaw population settled mostly to the north and east of this location after their removal from Tennessee and Mississippi. The Choctaw and Chickasaw country was officially partitioned in 1854 and the western half formally became the Chickasaw Nation. Comanche and Kiowa depredations kept Chickasaw settlement confined to the eastern part of their nation until the mid-1860s. Between 1866 and 1872, a greater U.S. military presence secured the central and western portions of the Chickasaw Nation, which began to be traversed by cattle trails and railroads.

Beginning in the 1870s Chickasaw citizens invited white farmers and laborers to settle their sparsely-occupied western territory. Tribal law conferred permanent resident status to noncitizens married to tribal citizens. In response, a migration stream from across the Upland South accelerated so that by 1890 southern white Anglo males outnumbered tribal citizens in the Chickasaw Nation and indeed much of Indian Territory. In the early 1870s, southeastern Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation was a rolling upland covered by a mosaic of Cross Timbers woodland and big bluestem prairie, identical to the environment of north Texas, but with far fewer ranches.


James H. Bounds was born in Missouri on April 29th, 1855. Perhaps during the Civil War, his family migrated to Grayson County, Texas, which is across the Red River from Marshall County, Oklahoma. During the 1870s, Bounds entered the Chickasaw Nation and married an unidentified Chickasaw citizen, which by tribal law gave him the right to claim land in the nation. The young Bounds family had two sons. Their first child, Jim Bounds, Jr., who was most likely born around 1880, died in infancy. Sometime around 1882 Mrs. Bounds died giving birth to their only surviving son, Young Bounds. James H. Bounds later remarried a Missouri woman named Fannie who was 12 years his junior. James and Fannie Bounds raised Young and later had two sons of their own: Overton Bounds (born in 1895) and Frank Bounds (born in 1896). In 1895, James H. Bounds relocated his ranch headquarters to the property's present site on higher, well-drained ground northwest of present-day Kingston. The relocation included the disassembly of his four-crib log barn and its reassembly on the new home place. The best estimate of the construction date of the property is about 1890. Although an exact date of construction is undetermined, it is known that James H. Bounds built it, or had it built, at his original home place on the Red River near the Woodville-Shay area south of present-day Kingston. According to family tradition, it was a replica of a bam that he had known from his Missouri childhood. The bam was probably built sometime after Bounds had become a successful farmer and rancher in the late 1880s and the year it was moved to the present site. While it is possible that the barn could have been built as early as 1875, most likely it was built while Young Bounds was old enough to assist his father, but before he left home for New Mexico in the early 1890s. James H. Bounds died in 1921, but his son Frank continued to run the ranch, which eventually passed to his daughter Judy Bounds Coleman, who operated it until the late 1980s.


The James H. Bounds Barn was part of the headquarters of the Bounds "Y-Bar" Ranch, which sprawled over southeastern Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. This included most of what was designated as Marshall County at statehood in 1907. The James H. Bounds Barn was used for storing com, hay, and housing livestock on the large cattle ranch between 1895 and the 1980s. The landholding remains in the family to the present day. In the early twentieth century, the Y-Bar became famous as a supplier of superior rodeo quarter horses. Buyers included rodeo stars such as John McEntire, the 1934 world champion steer roper and grandfather of Reba McEntire. According to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Bounds Y-Bar brand was Oklahoma's oldest continually-used brand until Judy Bounds Coleman retired in the late 1980s.[ii]


Madill (7.5 miles west of Kingston on U.S. 70 at Main Street)

William N. Taliaferro, Madill's founder, came from Texas into Pickens County in 1886. He cultivated a six-hundred-acre farm and operated extensive ranches near Oakland. In 1900, Taliaferro's lands became the Madill town site. Madill was located along the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway (Frisco) and named for a Frisco official, Judge George A. Madill of St. Louis, Missouri. Until then, Oakland, located two miles northwest of Madill, had been the area's main town. The railroad assured Madill's growth and Oakland's decline. The Madill post office was established on April 29th, 1901, and the city charter was issued on September 12th, 1902.[iii] Around it is a farming and livestock growing area, dotted with the pump jacks of the shallow oil field which was opened here in 1907. Madill's first bank was known locally as the Cottonwood National, because it was built of boards sawed out of cottonwood trees.


In 1939, the Pure Oil Company drilled a well east of Madill near Cumberland. By 1940, quarters were built for the company employees at Pure Camp. A tornado destroyed much of the site on April 2nd, 1957, with two people killed. The camp closed in July of 1959. [iv]

Point of Interest:

Worth Hotel (203 E. Main Street)

Constructed in 1914, one year after the HeaIdton/Hewitt oil field was opened, the Worth Hotel was one of the first permanent lodging facilities to be built in Madill as a result of the boom period. Established in 1901, the town of Madill experienced a period of rapid growth when the HeaIdton/Hewitt oil field came into its own as a major oil field. Lodging facilities, no matter how meager, were always in short supply and the early "boom chasers" pitched tents, camped on the ground, or secured lodging in local farm homes. Hastily erected housing, such as shotguns, followed the "tent city" stage. As the commercial and social environment of oil boom communities stabilized, more permanent structures were necessary in order to accommodate oil field businessmen who migrated in and out of the fields to transact business concerning sale of lease sites, production and marketing of petroleum, and transportation of crude oil and gas to distant refineries. Located on Main Street in the central business district of Madill, the Worth Hotel fulfilled this important commercial function from 1914 to 1930 when the HeaIdton/Hewitt field began to decline. It continued to serve the community as a hotel until 1975 when the Deltec Corporation purchased the building and converted it into an office building known as the Plaza Professional Building.[v]


Side Trip to Tishomingo (U.S. Highway 377 North)

Tishomingo (13.7 miles north on U.S. 377 at Kemp Avenue)

Tishomingo was named for a beloved Chickasaw leader and was capital of the Chickasaw Nation from its formation as an independent nation in 1856 until statehood. After the Chickasaws effected their formal separation from the Choctaws by treaty in 1855, their own government was organized and the tribal capitol installed in a small log building, which still stands in the northwestern part of the town. The second capitol was built of brick hauled from Paris, Texas. After being gutted by fire, this brick building was torn down and replaced by a two-story structure of native granite, which was used as the Johnston County Courthouse after 1907.

Before the Chickasaw capital was located here, the place was known by the Indians as a fine camp site and was called Good Springs. In 1850, a residence was built near the springs by Jackson Frazier, a Native American, and soon afterwards two stores began business. Tishomingo, the name given in 1856, became a post office in 1857. One of Oklahoma's governors, William H. ("Alfalfa Bill") Murray, came to the town when a young man, married the niece of a Chickasaw governor, Douglas Johnston (for whom the county was named), and started his career as a lawyer-politician. He presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1906 and 1907. After 1920, it began to decline because of drought, depression, and fires.

Points of Interest:

Murray State College (S. Murray Street and Wilson Avenue)

The first Oklahoma state legislature, in 1908, authorized the establishment at Tishomingo of the Murray State School of Agriculture, which attained junior college rank in 1924. The two-year college course emphasized agriculture, dairying, animal husbandry, science, mechanical arts, home economics, and education. On a twenty-acre campus at the southern corner of the city, and on 270 acres of farm land owned by the school plus 260 acres leased, the students receiveD practical instruction and experience. Fifteen acres, of which ten are irrigated, are given over to truck farming. With the planting of trees and shrubs, the campus had become an interesting setting for the wide-spaced buildings which included nine major units and a number of other small utility structures. The two men's dormitories, Douglas Johnston and Chickasaw Halls, which together accommodated 155 students, were almost identical three-story brick and stucco structures of attractive southern mansion design. Haskell Lucas Hall, another mens dormitory, was opened for the school year 1941 and 1942. In Betty Fulton Hall, a solid brick building erected in 1924, lived more than one hundred women students.

Armory-Gymnasium (S. Murray Street and E. 24th Street)

The Armory-Gymnasium, built in 1941 of roughly dressed stone, contained quarters for one National Guard unit, drill space, rifle range, locker rooms, and classrooms. The drill floor was also used as the school's gymnasium.

White House of the Chickasaws (7 miles south on OK 22, 1.2 miles east on Mansion Road)

Once considered a mansion on the frontier, it was home to Chickasaw Governor Douglas Henry Johnston and his family from 1898 to 1971. The Chickasaw White House, located on the north edge of Emet, Oklahoma, was necessarily the scene of many important social and political events. Oklahoma Governor William E. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray was married there to Alice Hearell, a niece of Governor Johnston. Their son, Johnston Murray, was also born in the house, and was destined to become Oklahoma's 14th governor in 1951. Other marriages took place in the house, including that of Julia Chisholm, granddaughter of the famed Jesse Chisholm and adopted niece of Governor Johnston. Prominent politicians and members of the Dawes Commission also met at the house. The Governor scored several notable achievements on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation and its people, by appealing upon occasion directly to President Theodore Roosevelt, who was instrumental in keeping white adventurers off tribal rolls, in maintaining tribal control over Indian schools, and in saving tribal government by insisting Washington live up to its treaty obligations in regard to taxes.

Mrs. Johnston (Bettie) planted large cannas beds, jonquils, roses, day lilies, crepe myrtle trees, and trumpet vines. Known for her medicinal skills, she found an abundance of herbs and plants on the property for use in home remedies and food preparations. Although she called the home "Breezy Meadow" the name never caught on and was discarded in favor of the "White House." The astonishing thirty-six year tenure of Chickasaw Governor Douglas H. Johnston represents an important period in Chickasaw national life. Much of the history echoed within the rooms of the Chickasaw White House between 1898, when the house was built, and 1939, when the Governor died of heart failure in Oklahoma City.[vi]


Junction with U.S. Highway 177 (0.6 mile north of Madill on U.S. 70)

The travel route departs from the current U.S. Highway 70 at this junction. The earlier route of U.S. 70 follows the present route of U.S. 177 to Dickson, and Oklahoma Highway 199 from Dickson to Ardmore. References to Old Highway 70 are numerous along the earlier route, with stretches of original road pavement still evident.

Side Trip to Oakland (U.S. Highway 70 West)

Oakland (1 mile west on U.S. 70 at Main Street)

The Oakland area was settled in 1874 by Captain Richard Wiggs, a former Confederate army officer, who resided along Glasses Creek. His home was built in a large cluster of oak trees for which Oakland was named. Wiggs controlled about two thousand acres of land and had cattle. The Oakland post office was established on July 20th, 1881, with William Grinstead as postmaster. In 1882, Wiggs completed a hotel, and a public well was dug. The well remains a historical landmark.


In 1883, Issac O. (Sac) Lewis moved to Oakland, which had been designated as the seat of Pickens County in the Chickasaw Nation. Lewis was a lawyer and a judge who held numerous positions with the Chickasaw. Ed Sacra established a ranch at Oakland in 1884. He owned Oakland's first store and built a home northeast of the public well.


In 1890, Oakland residents constructed a school that also served as a church. In 1895, Jesse Grinstead published the town's first newspaper, the Oakland News. The paper was moved to Madill in 1900. About 1890 Oakland had several restaurants, two drug stores, grocery and dry goods stores, a bank, three cotton gins, a blacksmith shop, and a butcher shop. A two-story building housed offices for doctors and lawyers. The St. Louis & San Francisco Railway (Frisco) built a route through the Oakland area in 1900. Frisco officials offered to run its track through Oakland, but town leaders did not raise the necessary funds. Thus, as the line was constructed two miles east of town, Madill was born, and Oakland declined.[vii]


Junction with Old Highway 70 (7.8 miles north of Madill on U.S. 177)

A portion of the old highway branches off to the north of the current roadway here, crossing Turkey Creek before crossing back over the highway and Camp Creek into Mannsville. The U.S. 177 designation replaced the U.S. 70 markings in 1984, when the current U.S. 70 was rerouted further south from Madill to Ardmore. Predating the U.S. Highway 70 designation, this route was known as Oklahoma Highway 5, and before that the Bankhead Highway. 


As the Automobile Age progressed, the number of cars and trucks in the state grew from 15,000 in 1914 to 127,000 in 1918 to 500,000 in 1926. The activity of good-roads promoters, chambers of commerce, and legions of automobile owners and tourists ensured the development of intrastate and interstate thoroughfares. While state officials discussed methods of facilitating highway construction and worried about funding, private citizens agitated and organized to promote both state and federal action.


On a national scale, growing automobile tourism and the trucking industry needed well-marked, paved roads leading from state to state. Thirteen transcontinental highways were proposed, exemplary of which was the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco via Philadelphia, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Leadership in the movement was taken by Logan W. Page, head of the U.S. Office of Public Roads, and Senator John H. Bankhead of Alabama, chair of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.


In Oklahoma as well, citizens banded together, mapped out likely routes, and publicized their efforts in order to create a groundswell of public support. They also tried to secure federal and state designation for the routes. The Oklahoma Good Roads Association, under Suggs and later under Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, provided leadership, and from 1914 through 1918 it and other organizations promoted "named" highways crossing Oklahoma and connecting it to adjacent states. Cities and towns often vied for inclusion on the routes. Proposed north-south highways included the Ozark Trail, the Jefferson, the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas (K-O-T), the Dallas-Canadian-Denver (D-C-D), the Meridian, and the Star. East-west highways included the Albert Pike, the Postal, and the Lee-Bankhead. After securing support from local chambers of commerce and county officials, if not always from state officials, advocates would place signs or concrete markers to guide travelers along the way, which often proceeded along the rough, occasionally impassable section-line roads.


A state highway system remained an unrealized dream until the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act in 1916. It provided one-to-one matching grants to states for roadways, bridges, and other structures on state highways that were considered eligible for inclusion in a nascent Oklahoma Federal Aid System. The law also required that each state have a legitimate, well-funded, professionally managed highway department. By 1919 Oklahoma's legislature had appropriated funds to secure the federal match, and in September 1923 the U.S. secretary of agriculture approved Federal Aid Highways in Oklahoma. In 1923 the legislature passed a one-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the thirty-eighth state to do so. The Highway Department and the counties shared in the revenue fund for construction and maintenance, but it proved not nearly enough. The tax was raised to 2.5 cents in 1924. In August 1924 the Ninth Legislature passed Senate Bill 44, creating the State Highway System, under the management of a three-member Highway Commission, and defined three kinds of roads: state highways, county highways, and township roads. The state system was to comprise intercounty and interstate highways and was to total at least five percent of each county's roadways. The state and county roads were eligible for federal and state funds.


The commission designated state highways and numbered them 1 through 26. State Highway 2, the Meridian Highway, extended from Caldwell, Kansas, through Medford, Pond Creek, Enid, Kingfisher, El Reno, Chickasha, Marlow, Duncan, and Waurika to the Red River. The Jefferson Highway, designated as State Highway 6, extended from Chetopa, Kansas, through Vinita, Pryor, Wagoner, Muskogee, Checotah, Eufaula, McAlester, Atoka, and Durant to the Red River. State Highway 7, earlier promoted as the Ozark Trail, linked Baxter Springs, Kansas, Miami, Afton, Vinita, Claremore, Tulsa, Sapulpa, Bristow, Stroud, Chandler, Davenport, Oklahoma City, Newcastle, Chickasha, Lawton, and Altus. State Highway 4, the K-O-T, stretched from Newkirk through Ponca City, Perry, Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Norman, Ardmore, and Marietta to the Red River. East-west arteries included State Highway 11, the Albert Pike Highway, linking Siloam Springs, Kansas, Locust Grove, Chouteau, Tulsa, Skiatook, Pawhuska, Ponca City, Pond Creek, Cherokee, Alva, Buffalo, Hooker, and Boise City. State Highway 3, the Postal Highway, extended from Fort Smith through Poteau, Wilburton, McAlester, Holdenville, Wewoka, Shawnee, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Weatherford, Elk City, and Sayre, into Texas. State Highway 5, the Lee-Bankhead Highway, a transcontinental road, stretched from Ultima Thule, Arkansas, through Idabel, Hugo, Durant, Ardmore, and Waurika to Frederick and crossed the Red River at Davidson. All were completed by 1925, and in that year the state system comprised approximately five thousand miles, of which approximately three hundred were paved.[viii]


Mannsville (2 miles north of Old Highway 70 on U.S. 177 at Grand Road)

This community coalesced in the mid-1880s and received a U.S. postal designation in August 1888, with Wallace A. Mann the first postmaster. The town name honored the Mann family, early settlers. In 1898, after the Curtis Act stripped the Five Civilized Tribes of most of their governmental powers and allowed towns to incorporate through the U.S. court system, the town incorporated and held its first municipal elections in June.[ix]

Side Trip to Norton Bridge Site (Grand Road North, Greasy Bend Road East)

Site of Norton Bridge (2 miles north on Grand Road, 1.5 miles east on Greasy Bend Road)

Built by the Kansas City Bridge Company in 1909, the Norton Bridge was used in a movie scene for the film Dillinger (1973). The scene was a bloody shoot-out in which Harry Pierpont, played by Geoffrey Lewis, is shot and falls off the bridge. A flood of the Washita River washed out the bridge on June 18th, 2015. 


Dickson (6 miles northwest of Mannsville on U.S. 177 at Dickson Road)

The community of Dickson is primarily based on the existence of the Dickson Consolidated School District, which was founded in 1923. Hester Horn donated the land for the school, on the condition that she would serve as the facility's first superintendent. The school, and later the town itself, was named for A. E. Dickson, the Carter County school superintendent at that time. The town was not incorporated until 1968.[x] 

Side Trip to Ardmore Municipal Airport (U.S. Highway 177 North, Oklahoma Highway 53 West)

Ardmore Municipal Airport (7.3 miles north on U.S. 177, 4.6 miles west on OK 53 at General Drive)

This airport was originally developed as the Ardmore Army Air Field, opening in 1942. The citizens of Ardmore approved a $100,000 bond issue in early 1942 to purchase 1,416 acres of land north of Gene Autry. The U.S. Government contributed 658 acres that it owned in the area to complete the 2,084 acres needed for the base. The acreage was leased for one dollar to the U.S. Government, for the duration of the war plus 6 months. Far from being completed, the base was officially activated November 21st, 1942, as the home of the 418th Air Base Glider Squadron, under the command of the First Trooper Carrier Command of the 2nd Air Force. They came from Stout Field, Indiana. This squadron included approximately 200 glider pilots plus support troops. They had several two-place training planes, a CG-4A troop/cargo glider, and C-47 tow aircraft. On April 15th, 1943, a little over 4-months after arrival, the glider phase ended when the 418th was transferred to Bowman Field, Kentucky. The base was assigned to the 3rd Air Force on April 12th, 1943.


In July of 1943, the 394th Bombardment Group’s 584th, 585th, 586th and 587th Squadrons arrived and the base became a Martin “Marauder” B-26 crew-training base. At Ardmore for on five weeks, they were reassigned to Kellogg Field, Michigan. On August 20th, 1953, the base passed from the 3rd Air Force to the 2nd Air Force for the second time. In September of 1943, the 46th Bombardment Operational Training Wing, 20th Bomber Command, arrived from Dalhart, Texas, under command of Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong, Jr., a seasoned B-17 combat veteran. Shortly thereafter, a full contingency of men and B-17 “Flying Fortresses” arrived from Ephrate Army Air Base, Washington. Both groups constituted the 395th Combat Crew Training School known after March 25th, 1944, as the 222nd CCTS. Their mission was to assemble and train B-17 replacement combat crews through a rigorous, 24-hour training program in the classroom and sky. The crews were made up of recently graduated pilots, bombardiers, as a crew of 3 months and most were immediately assigned to the 8th Air Force in England as replacement combat crews. At peak capacity, the base was said to have had 10,000 occupants.


Ardmore Army Air Base received a squadron of approximately 100 WAAC’s on July 23rd, 1944. They performed various duties on the base including control tower operations. Another unique group arriving in 1945 was a contingency of 200 German prisoners of war. They did various jobs around the base and were helpful in closing the base at the end of the war. Ardmore Army Air Base was also identified as Ardmore Army Air Field and was known as the Gene Autry Base by some. The base had 13 commanders during its 5 years of operation.

The Korean Conflict presented a need for reactivation of the base September 1st, 1953. The majority of the World War II buildings had been removed and the construction of new structures began in 1952. Men with the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing (Medium), Memphis, Tennessee, began to arrive in July and August of 1953, completing the move by late September. The 463rd Troop Carrier Group was comprised of the 772nd, 773rd, and 774th Squadrons and their support groups. They initially flew the Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar” and had the honor of receiving on December 9th, 1956, the first Lockheed C-130A “Hercules” delivered to the USAF. It was named “The City of Ardmore” and is now on display at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.


The 16th Troop Carrier Squadron from Sewart Air Force Base, Tennessee, was assigned on a permanent change of station status from October 17th, 1954, to July 7th, 1955, when the unit was deactivated. The 309th Troop Carrier Group had its inception at the Ardmore base on July 8th, 1955. It was the first tactical assault group to be organized by the U.S. Air Force. They received and flew the first Fairchild C-123Bs delivered to the USAF.


A year later, on July 7th, 1956, the second assault group, the 419th Troop Carrier Group was formed after transfer of the 309th to France. The 419th, flying C-123Bs, consisted of three tactical squadrons: the 339th, 340th, and 341st. Most of the 419th personnel were from the 456th Troop Carrier Group that transferred to Ardmore from Japan on June 6th, 1956 and deactivated on July 9th, 1956.

The military and their civilian counterparts, served and worked together in the Air Base Group (Headquarters, Communications, Air Police, Air Installations and Food Service Squadrons), Maintenance and Supply Group (Maintenance, Supply and Vehicle Squadrons), and Hospital Group (4454 USAF Hospital and Tactical Detachment 11 (25th Weather Squadron) making it all come together. Military and civilian personnel on the base usually numbered from 2,000 to 3,000. The base was closed on March 31st, 1959.

Site of American Flyers Crash (7.9 miles north on U.S. 177, 1.3 miles west on Seven Sisters Hills Road, 1.6 miles north on Dead River Road)

On Friday, April 22nd, 1966, American Flyers Flight 280/D, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashed 1.5 miles northeast of Ardmore Municipal Airport. Of the 93 passengers and five crewmembers aboard, 18 passengers survived. However, three of them later succumbed to injuries. The aircraft was destroyed by impact and subsequent fire. The aircraft operated on a Military Air Command Civil Air Movement Charter flight from Monterey, California, to Columbus, Georgia via Ardmore. Flight 280/D departed Monterey Peninsula Airport at 4:32 pm. Arriving at Ardmore at 8:30 pm, he crew missed a runway 08 ADF instrument approach to Ardmore, so they attempted a visual circling approach to runway 30. The aircraft struck a hill at an elevation of 963 feet (airport elevation being 762 feet above sea level). The probable cause determined by an FAA investigation was "the incapacitation, due to a coronary insufficiency, of the pilot-in-command at a critical point during visual, circling approach being conducted under instrument flight conditions." It was determined later that Reed Pigman, the owner-pilot of the plane, was under medical care for arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). At the time of the crash, this was the 7th worst in U.S. aviation history.[xi]

From Dickson, the travel route follows Oklahoma Highway 199 west to Ardmore.


Ardmore (8.9 miles west of U.S. 177 on OK 199 at Main Street)

Ardmore is the largest city between Oklahoma City, 104 miles north, and Fort Worth, Texas, 107 miles south. It came into being on the Roff Brothers' "700 Ranch" in the Indian Territory when, in 1887, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was built through the site. The growth of this self-styled "capital of south central Oklahoma" from a cattle-loading point in the middle of a big ranch to the wide-spreading metropolis of an area rich in farming land, pastures, oil, asphaltum, and recreational resources, has been steady but unspectacular.


When Ardmore was founded it was named by an official of the railroad in honor of the Philadelphia suburb he had known, though the young settlement had little of the beauty of its namesake. Two years after it had become a station on the Santa Fe, a pioneer settler from Texas pictured it in these words: "Father met us at the depot, and on the way to our new home we saw the public well and watering trough in the middle of Main Street. ... I remember how my sister and I gazed at the cowboys standing at the well with their ten-gallon white hats, black-and-white checked shirts, and slant-heeled boots. The spot seemed to be attractive to the town's hogs, also, as they had made a wallowing ground around the trough. Before reaching home we saw our first rattlesnake and prairie chickens. The first winter we were visited by a fierce, mangy herd of wild horses that stayed near our house for quite a while, snorting and pitching and making it unsafe for us children to venture outside." There is also the tale of the retired town marshal, drafted to help capture a mountain man charged with attempted homicide, who went alone and unarmed to take him, stayed to dinner, and drove back to the courthouse on the friendliest possible terms with him. Such stories as these are told by Ardmoreites who can say, "I was there and saw it."


In its early days, Ardmore was a trading point for farmers and ranchmen of the Chickasaw Nation and an important primary market for cotton. Five years after the coming of the railroad, it was claimed that more than fifty thousand bales were sold on its streets by growers in the season. The even progress of the city's growth was stimulated by the discovery of oil nearby in 1913; it is perhaps this factor which has determined its regional prominence. In contrast to the history of most Oklahoma oil-boom towns, the subsidence of the gusher phase of the Healdton and other fields in the region did not mean partial paralysis of Ardmore. As early as 1901, when the first oil developments in Oklahoma were exciting the farmers and ranchers of the Tulsa-Red Fork region, a group of Ardmore citizens, together with investors from Missouri and South Dakota, formed a company to explore the Red Beds for oil. They had seen crude oil on the surface of water flowing from springs, and despite the expert judgment of such men as John D. Archbold, of the Standard Oil Company, who declared he would drink all the oil found in the Red Beds, they persisted in their explorations and found oil at four hundred feet. But it was not until after Roy Johnson came to start a newspaper at Ardmore in 1907 that a persistent effort to develop the field was made. Johnson was obsessed by the conviction that there must be oil near the extensive beds of asphaltum which had been mapped near Ardmore. The city's streets were being paved with rock asphalt at the time; and Johnson, after examining it, believed that this material had once been saturated with oil, that the light oil had drained away, and that asphaltum had been formed from the residue. He took on as a partner in the venture a young man who could give all his time to securing leases, while he himself undertook to finance the enterprise. When their funds ran out, Johnson negotiated a loan of $2,000, paying a commission of 2 per cent, promising to pay interest at the rate of 10 per cent a year, and giving as security his newspaper publishing plant. When the money was spent, he borrowed more from the young schoolma'am, Odessa Otey, with whom he was keeping company and whom he later married. Ten years after he and his group had brought in the first well in 1913, Johnson recalled the story of oil in the Ardmore region and suggested that Archbold would have drunk a big mouthful of oil had he made good on his promise—up to that time the Red Beds had yielded some 167,000,000 barrels!


More striking, though perhaps no more important to the oil history of Ardmore than Roy Johnson, were John Ringling, circus man, and Jake Hamon, Republican politician. It was Ringling, who, annoyed by the poor roads between his wells and Ardmore, built twenty miles of railway to a point named Ringling, with a six-mile branch to Healdton, which was later extended. Hamon was so prominent in the campaign which resulted in the election of Harding as President that before his untimely death he was said to be slated for a cabinet post. John W. Harreld, an Ardmoreite living in Oklahoma City, was elected to the United States Senate in the Harding landslide of 1920. He and W. B. Pine, who defeated Jack Walton in 1924, were the only Republicans (up to 1941) ever elected from Oklahoma to a term in the United States Senate. Lee Cruce, of Ardmore, an intermarried member of the Chickasaw tribe, was the second governor of Oklahoma (1913-17).


Ardmore's first newspaper, the Alliance Courier, a weekly, was started in 1888, when there was no municipal government, when the city's fire department was a volunteer bucket brigade and its water supply came from cisterns dug beside their stores by the merchants of Main Street, and the only police force was a deputy marshal from the Federal court. Under Jules Soule, this paper served as mouthpiece for the Farmers' Alliance, a radical agrarian movement that was widespread in Kansas and other drought-aflected areas, and was brought into Indian Territory by leasers and tenant farmers. Soule acquired the Ardmore Chronicle in 1890 and also printed the Wind Bag. Two African-American newspapers, the Ardmore Sun (1901) and the Baptist Rival (1902), were the next of a number of weekly journals to be born and have a life in the town. The Chickasaw Chieftain, which Rezin McAdam established in 1890 to campaign for the breaking up of tribal governments, allotment of Indian lands, and their opening to white settlement, became an evening daily in 1892. In the following year, Sidney Suggs, a picturesque figure who made himself a leader in Oklahoma journalism, bought for $600 the new and struggling Daily Ardmoreite. By 1941, it was the only survivor of the half-dozen dailies that have tried their wings in the city—Roy Johnson's Statesman, the Daily Citizen, the Chronicle, the Ardmore Appeal, the Bulletin, and the Morning Democrat. The Ardmoreite management also printed the Democrat, a weekly.


A dramatic highlight in Ardmore's history was the explosion, on September 27th, 1915, of a tank car containing highly volatile casing-head gasoline. So terrific was the concussion that the Santa Fe station, most of the business houses, and many residences were wrecked; and some fifty persons lost their lives. It was said that horses eight miles away were knocked to their knees.

Points of Interest:

Carnegie Library (502 Stanley Avenue SW)

In 1904, Mrs. Hosea Townsend started the movement for a library and wrote to Andrew Carnegie stating Ardmore's need. He gave $15,000, and work on the present library was started. The building was opened in 1906, its first accessions being 350 books begged and bought by the women of the Orio Club. Not until 1919 did the city appropriate sufficient funds to increase materially the collection by purchase, but within two years thereafter there were 12,500 books on the shelves. Funds for additional improvements to the library were provided in 1941. A Museum (free), on the first floor of the library, has on display a small collection of documents and relics of historic interest relating to southern Oklahoma history, and also geological and biological specimens.

St. Phillips Church (E Street SW and McLish Avenue)

Built in 1927, this is an interesting adaptation of the Gothic design of Merton College, Oxford University, England. Built of Missouri limestone, it is a small church seating only 250 worshipers. The stained glass windows—over the altar, in the west end wall, and in the side walls—tell the story of the ascension of Christ: Christ as the Good Shepherd, Saint Paul before Agrippa, and the Angel with the Faithful Women before Christ's empty tomb.

First Presbyterian Church (C Street NW at Broadway)

In the belfry of this Gothic type church is a chime of 11 bells, said to be the first to be installed in Oklahoma. The largest of the bells, weighing 2,500 pounds, can be rung independently.

YMCA Building (A Street NW and Broadway)

Dedicated in 1938, this small structure of cream brick is beautifully proportioned, modernistic in design and decoration. The building was made possible by a generous contribution by Mrs. Edward T, Noble, supplemented by those of other citizens of Ardmore.

Site of Whittington Hotel (Main Street and A Street NE)

Wiley F. Whittington, a former Confederate Army captain, came to Ardmore from Dexter, Texas. Following the Great Fire of 1895, a 72-room brick and sandstone hotel was built on the same site. A second reconstruction was needed after the rail yard explosion in 1915. The Whittington featured the first metal cage Otis elevator in Ardmore. After Wiley’s death, his daughter Jewel operated the hotel until it closed in 1965. The building was razed for the bricks and fixtures.

Carter County Courthouse (1st Avenue SW and B Street SW)

This is a solid, square building of gray limestone, adorned with tall, massive pillars in front, topped by a dome which is one of the first objects to attract the eye as one approaches Ardmore. The structure was completed in 1910.

Harold Wallace Building (N. Washington Street, between 1st Avenue NE and 2nd Avenue NE)

This structure was built in 1919. Harold Wallace was once the President of Michorn Oil, which was organized in Oklahoma in 1917.

Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway Station (N. Washington Street and 3rd Avenue NE)

The Ringling Road Depot in Ardmore is significant because it is the only building in Oklahoma directly associated with John Ringling of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. John Ringling's railroad building efforts led directly to the establishment of three towns in southern Oklahoma: Ringling, Wilson, and Healdton, as well as the Healdton oil field. Ringling and the city of Ardmore built this depot in 1915 with Ringling's Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railroad Company. Construction of a line west from Ardmore had been begun in 1913 and was supposed to reach Lawton, Oklahoma. By the time builders finished the depot, the line extended 25 miles to the west, the present site of Ringling, Oklahoma. The depot built there no longer exists.


The Ringling Road never extended further west than Ringling because of the discovery of oil at Healdton, Oklahoma. The oilfield at Healdton was vital to the Allied effort in World War I. It supplied 50% of all the oil the Allied powers used during the war. The Ringling Road made this output possible.

The Santa Fe Railroad Company purchased the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railroad from Ringling in 1926. Santa Fe used the line until 1976, when they closed the 25-mile stretch. They sold the depot to the city of Ardmore, which leased it to the local American Legion.[xii]

Site of Old 700 Ranch House (G Street and 2nd Avenue SE)

This was first building on the site of Ardmore and the first in the county. As built, it was a double log house, with a breezeway between the two sections. Old-time Ardmoreites remembered when it was headquarters of the ranch on which the city was built, with corrals and outbuildings back of it on the small creek to the south, and with bluestem grass growing nearby "as high as a man on horseback."

Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad Viaduct (G Street NE, between 8th Avenue NE and 10th Avenue NE)

This viaduct was built in 1901 and 1902. The purpose of the east-west bridge was to span the nearly north-south tracks of Ardmore's first railroad, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (Santa Fe). Seven years later, the east portion of the bridge was altered by the addition of a second plate girder span to allow G Street Northeast to continue past the railroad bridge. In 1913, the railroad filled portions of the long trestle, reducing the overall length of the bridge from its original approximately 1000 feet to about 254 feet. The bridge is historically noteworthy as the only extant, major, pre-1915, rail-related resource in Ardmore. The horrific explosion at the Santa Fe yards in 1915 caused all buildings associated with the railroads to be rebuilt; thus, losing their connection with Ardmore's early rail history.[xiii]

Path of Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad (North side of 5th Avenue SW, between B Street SW and C Street SW)

Remnants of the track bed of the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad is evident in the open lot on the north side of 5th Avenue SW. The old railroad crossing sign for the tracks is still present around the corner, north of 5th Avenue SW, on B Street SW.

Douglass High School (8th Avenue NE and M Street NE)

The first and only black high school in Ardmore was Douglass, established, in the early 1900s. The black youth, however, were deprived of an auditorium until 1930 when the auditorium on the north side was constructed near the high school. From 1930 to 1969, the Douglass High School Auditorium served as a significant social, educational, and recreational focal point for the black community. Hundreds of black youth participated in music programs, dramatic productions, graduation exercises, and athletic contests held in the auditorium. The 60' x 90' auditorium was the largest black facility of its type in southern Oklahoma. The only other comparable facility for black high school youth in southern Oklahoma was at McAlester and it was constructed in 1934 with P.W.A. funding. In 1969, the old high school was replaced with a new high school complex, which included an auditorium, and the high school system was integrated.[xiv]

Central Park Bandstand (Main Street West and E Street SW)

The Central Park Bandstand is a limestone bandstand constructed in 1928 in the near-center of Central Park. The bandstand was designed by local architect E.S. Boze and erected by local builder Hugh Mclntrye. Intended to be fireproof, the structure was constructed of stone, concrete and metal materials only. The limestone was quarried in Carthage, Missouri.[xv]

Oklahoma Veterans Home (S. Commerce Street and Myall Road)

The Oklahoma Confederates Home was established in Territorial days at McAlester, under the sponsorship of Dr. D. M. Hailey, founder of Haileyville, and J. J. McAlester, founder of McAlester. Public subscriptions were received by the Confederate Association, but shortly after statehood it was found that the donations were inadequate. It was made a state-supported institution and was moved to its present site in 1910, This structure was opened in 1911, and the “Confederate” in the name was dropped in 1949.

Sayer-Mann House (323 F Street SW)

Situated in an old residential area of Ardmore once known as Silk Stocking Row, this house retains its original appearance, even to the decorative detailing, gracing the neighborhood of Victorian era homes (including Greek revival, Georgian revival, and prairie cottage homes) as the only two story Queen Anne home in town. The house was constructed outside present-day Ardmore during the late 1880s. Dodson, the owner, moved the house to its present location before statehood when he gave the property on which the house was located for the railroad round house. Fearing that the house was no longer structurally sound, Mr. Dodson sold the house and by 1909 the Sayers purchased it.

Horace and Pearl Sayer owned the home for sixty years. During that time each attained recognition for professional accomplishments. Horace Sayer was the first city engineer for Ardmore and an oil lease broker. During World War I he organized the Engineer Battalion from Ardmore that served in Europe. Consequently, the armory in Ardmore is named in his honor. Pearl Mitchell Sayer typified the spirit of service of the wives of Ardmore community’s leading citizens. Her volunteer activities included the district library board, the organization of the Carter County Red Cross, and World War I Liberty Loan drives. She also became active in politics, serving on various committees of the Republican Party in Oklahoma. She attended national Republican conventions and achieved national recognition as a member of the Republican National Committee from 1932 to 1957.


Noel and Glenda Mann purchased the home in 1969 from the heirs of the Sayers and immediately began work to restore the home to its original appearance.[xvi]

Turner House (3rd Avenue SW and O Street SW)

This Mission/Spanish Revival style residence was constructed in 1935. 

Site of Hargrove College (9th Avenue NW and D Street NW in Selvidge Park)

Named for Bishop Robert H. Hargrove, this Methodist college was established here in 1894. The area surrounding the institution became known as College Hill. Also located here was Selvidge Commercial College. After the structure burned in 1907, the college was rebuilt north of Ardmore. 


[i] Gray, Paulline; Kingston; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[ii] Bays, Brad Alan Ph.D., James H. Bounds Barn; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; June 4th, 2013.

[iii] Madill; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[iv] Madill; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[v] Aue, Mary B.; Worth Hotel; National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form; October, 1984.

[vi] Chickasaw White House; Chickasaw Nation;

[vii] Oakland; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[viii] Highways; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[ix] Mannsville; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[x] Dickson; Oklahoma Historical Society;

[xi] Accident Description; Aviation Safety Network;

[xii] Mays, Blane; Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Pacific R.R. Depot; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, December 1st, 1981.

[xiii] Savage, Cynthia; Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad Viaduct; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; June, 2007.

[xiv] Brown, Bryan; Douglass High School Auditorium; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; February, 1984.

[xv] Savage, Cynthia; Central Park Bandstand; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; June, 2006.

[xvi] Curths, Karen Bode; Sayer-Mann House; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form; September 24th, 1981.

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