"GUTHRIE-- Birthplace of Oklahoma."
City civic leaders today point with understanding pride to this historical distinction.
But it is doubtful that more than a comparative handful of the state's millions of inhabitants, including these same astute Guthrie civic leaders, are aware than this might easily have read:
"Deer Creek-Birthplace of Oklahoma."
Not that it would have really made any difference, for regardless of whether this city today had been known as Deer Creek., as first named only a dot on a railroad construction map, it's claims to this historical fact would be as undisputed as Guthrie's.
In explanation, when Santa Fe railroad tracks reached the present site of Guthrie February 8, 1887, then a desolate prairie, the construction name of a station here was designated Deer Creek.
Named for Judge
This name, however, was short lived, being changed to Guthrie March 28, 1887, in honor of John Guthrie, then Judge of the district court at Topeka, Kan.
To these Santa Fe construction officials, who built the first railroad into Indian territory more than two years before the opening of the land for settlers, April 22, 1889, numerous other Oklahoma towns and cities of today owe the names by which they are familiarly known to millions.
Early in 1886, it was decided to build from Arkansas City south. Engineer locating parties were placed in the field, the line located and construction begun.
In September the bridge across the Arkansas river had been completed and the first regular train schedule was issued, effective at 9 a.m. Monday, November 29, 1886.
On January 6, 1887, regular train service from Arkansas City was extended to Cow Creek, a distance of 59 miles. On January 28, 1887, the track had reached a point 78 miles south of Arkansas City, near the present station of Barnes. Three-hundred were in the track gangs and were laying two miles a day. They reached the Cimarron river on February 5.
A bridge was completed, and the track reached the present site of Guthrie on or about February 8.
Col. J. W. F. Hughes, of Topeka, roadmaster in charge of the track work from Ponca to Purcell, holds the distinction of having built the first houses at the present locations of Guthrie, Edmond, and Oklahoma City.
The houses erected were constructed of track ties and were used to house the track men during construction of the railroad through these locations.
When the track work was nearing Purcell, it appeared the company behind time to reach the connection at the point under the time limit placed by the government.
To avoid the possibilities of delay C. H. Curtis, a Santa Fe chief clerk, came down the line with a locomotive and bunk car, picked up all the station agents and the roadmaster, cut the telegraph line and went on to the south end of the line near Purcell, where they remained for a few days so that the U. S. Marshall couldn't find anyone upon whom to serve an injunction.
A writ was issued at Muskogee but it was not served before the connection was made at Purcell. 154 miles south of Arkansas City.
The railroad reached the present town of Marietta, with completion Red river in January, 1887, on a line constructed from Gainsville, Texas.
Progress on this line reached Purcell in April begin routed near the present stations of Ardmore and Rayford.
The railroad from Gainsville to Purcell was completed a few minutes after 5 p.m. April 26, 1887, shortly after completion of the line from Arkansas City south.
The entire line across Oklahoma was placed in operation June 12, 1887.
Prior to the opening of Oklahoma territory to settlement at noon, April 22, 1889 the Santa Fe amassed all available passenger equipment at Arkansas City.
The first train, which started its historical run following the firing of a pistol shot by a trooper at noon, brought an estimated 1,000 persons to Guthrie. The next 10 trains carried an additional 9,000 persons.
A depot had been constructed at Guthrie, prior to the opening, being completed on April 16, 1889.
A party of Santa Fe Officials who visited Guthrie on May 8, 1889, were accorded a virtual ovation from the thousands of thankful new homesteaders.
The party consisted of W. B. Strong president; A. A. Robinson, second vice-president; George L. Sands, general superintendent.
On May 23, 1889, at a Guthrie mass meeting, 32 states were represented. At that time there were four townsites-Guthrie, East Guthrie, West Guthrie and Capital Hill.
Under U. S. Statues at that time, a townsite could not embrace more than one half section of land, hence the reason for the four separate town organizations of Guthrie, which as first settled, covered 1,280 acres.
A striking example of the character of the workmen who aided in building the first railroad into Oklahoma may be ascertained from the stock questions asked when a man applied for a job.
The questions were:
1. "What is your name?"
2. "Where are you from?"
3. "What was your name before you left there?"
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