Little Bits of History

Oklahoma Land Run

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2011

Oklahoma Land Run Map

April 22, 1889: At high noon, the Land Run of 1889 begins. This was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands which today is part of six counties in what is now the state of Oklahoma. There were two million acres of land available in what was considered some of the best unoccupied public lands in the United States. There were about 50,000 people awaiting their chance to claim land. The land had become available after the enactment of the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889.  The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed for settlers to claim up to 160 acres each.

Some of those participating arrived early and hid out until the legal time to begin claims. They were then poised to snap up the choicest regions for themselves. These people became known as “sooners” and their claims were legally contested by those who were playing by the rules. The US Department of the Interior adjudicated. Those who had waited until the legal time to enter the area were called “boomers”. By the end of the day, both Oklahoma City and Guthrie were established with around 10,000 people living in each city.

In Oklahoma City, the boom was just beginning. The population doubled in the next decade. It had become the population and commercial hub for the new state. The city continued to grow through the Second World War. After the War, the population began to wane and by the 1970s, “white flight” overtook the city. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 brought the city to the nation’s attention when 168 people died in the explosion. Today, Oklahoma City has a population of 580,000 and is once again a thriving metropolis and is the capital.

Guthrie originated as a railroad station in 1887. It was then called Deer Creek on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. The name was changed to Guthrie for John Guthrie of Topeka. A post office was added prior to the land run, and on this day, after the cannons announced it was safe to stake a claim, the town boomed. It became the territorial and then the state capital, but in June 1911 the latter designation went to OK City. With the move of the capital, the economic base for Guthrie was lost. Since it advanced slowly, much of the Victorian grandeur of the old city remains. Today, with a population under 10,000, Guthrie is a stop on the historical tourist route, having been named a national Historic Landmark in 1999.

“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” – Mark Twain

“Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.” – Mae West

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins

“You who live your lives in cities or among peaceful ways cannot always tell whether your friends are the kind who would go through fire for you. But on the Plains one’s friends have an opportunity to prove their mettle.” – Buffalo Bill

Also on this day:
One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000 the UK updates the phone system
Earth Day – In 1970, Earth Day was first celebrated.

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2 Responses

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  1. Toni Monfort Addleston said, on April 28, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Have been doing research into the Run as my grandfather took part.
    I appreciate the map of the territories. Only one I have found so far.
    My grandfather was a settler in Alva, Woods County and established a
    Drug Store there from 1894 thru 1953.

    • patriciahysell said, on April 28, 2011 at 5:29 am

      Very interesting. I bet your grandfather had some great stories of his own. Glad the map could help.

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