Antlers historic train station
|Nickname(s): Deer Capital of the World|
Location of Antlers, Oklahoma
|• Total||2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)|
|• Land||2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||512 ft (156 m)|
|• Density||931.1/sq mi (359.5/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1089664|
Antlers is a city in, and the county seat of, Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,453 at the 2010 census, a 3.9 percent decline from 2,552 in 2000. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the town was named for a tree that became festooned with antlers, first to denote the location of a spring.
Evidence exists of prehistoric activity within the city limits of present-day Antlers. Arrowheads are found periodically at sites throughout the town. Most of the prehistoric sites are atop hills, which the prehistoric inhabitants found the most healthful.
A Mississippian culture settlement was based at Spiro Mounds, and active from 800CE to the 1400sCE. It controlled the area of Antlers and the rest of the Kiamichi River valley, as well as a large portion of what is now southeastern Oklahoma and adjacent states. This was the westernmost area of the culture, which was based along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Its largest center was at Cahokia, in present-day Illinois.
In the era of European exploration and colonization, Caddo Indians, descendants of the Mississippians, roamed the area. Rarely establishing permanent settlements, they were highly nomadic, hunting and fishing.
Not recognizing that this was Caddo territory, the United States granted it to the Choctaw Indians in 1832 by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, in exchange for the people ceding their land in the American Southeast to the federal government during the period of Indian Removal.
The Choctaw established communities that replicated the three major divisions of their people in the Southeast, so there were three centers of loose government. White encroachment on their land soon began again. During the American Civil War, most of the Choctaw allied with the Confederacy, which had suggested it would support an independent Indian state if it won the war.
During the 1880s the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, more popularly known as the “Frisco", built a north-south line through the Choctaw Nation, connecting Fort Smith, Arkansas with Paris, Texas. The railroad paralleled the Kiamichi River throughout much of its route in present-day Pushmataha County. The railroads established train stations every few miles to be centers of new development. They also were the sites of section houses; supervisors for their respective miles of track lived in the section houses to administer the track and its right-of-way. These stations also served as points at which the trains could draw water.
The site of Antlers was selected for a station due to a local freshwater spring. Adjacent stations were established at Davenport — now Kellond, Oklahoma — to the north, and Hamden, Oklahoma to the south. The Choctaw in this sparsely populated area, at that time known as Jack’s Fork County of the Choctaw Nation in the Indian Territory, farmed or subsisted on the land.
Few roads or trails had been built. The Frisco Railroad was the chief form of transportation through the Territory, offering six trains per day (three in each direction) until it closed to passenger traffic during the mid 1960s. It continued freight operations until 1981, when it closed altogether and its rails were removed. The loss of passenger rail followed the construction of several highways linking Antlers to other communities, including U.S. Highway 271, Oklahoma State Highway 7, and Oklahoma State Highway 2. The southern section of the Indian Nation Turnpike, which has an interchange at Antlers, opened in 1970.
A United States Post Office was established at Antlers, Indian Territory, on August 26, 1887. According to early settler Colonel Victor M. Locke, Jr., a hunter was encamped at the spring at present-day Antlers early one autumn and killed a “magnificent buck.” He nailed its antlers to a tree close to the spring as a challenge to other hunters, who followed suit. Railroad officials later designated the new station stop as “Antlers” in recognition of this prominent local landmark bristling with points.
The Choctaw government allowed some European Americans to settle on their land, but provided them no protections or government services of any kind. During the 1890s the U.S. government acted to provide a minimal level of support. It established Recording Districts throughout all Five Civilized Tribes of the Indian Territory. Antlers became Record Town of Recording District #24, which covered almost all of present-day Pushmataha, Choctaw and McCurtain counties. American citizens living in this area were provided with the rudiments of a justice system, with a US Court operating on a part-time schedule.
To support the needs of a Record Town, a United States Court was established at Antlers. A large wooden courthouse was built to accommodate the justices, lawyers and courtroom facilities necessary. Antlers became home to a small government outpost. During the waning days of the Indian Territory, the Republican Party was in power in Washington, D.C. The federal justices, sheriffs, deputies, and court clerks were all appointed by the Republican Party according to patronage practices of the time. Local residents, largely from former Confederate States, had allied with the Confederacy in the hopes of gaining an Indian state. They continued to be affiliated mostly with the Democratic Party.
In order to prepare for Oklahoma's statehood, the United States Government surveyed and plotted every town of significance. Antlers was surveyed in 1901 and a townsite of 182 acres (0.74 km2) was mapped. Once the area was included in a state, residents could establish formal ownership of their homes and property.
The United States required changes among all the Native American nations in order to admit Oklahoma as a state. Tribal governments were dissolved and the Indian Territory was absorbed into the state of Oklahoma on November 16, 1907. Antlers lost its prized status as a United States Court town; and many jobs left the town when courts were established elsewhere. Numerous residents left to gain employment in other cities.
Antlers’ served as local resort town, as it is a gateway to the Kiamichi Mountains. Many tourists came to fish, hunt, and relax in the town and nearby mountains. Many came from Paris, Texas. Sustained growth occurred for several decades.
On April 12, 1945, Antlers was devastated by a powerful tornado. Moving southwest to northeast, it destroyed stores and homes in a wide swath, including stores and shops at the south end of High Street. Sixty-seven residents were killed, and over 300 injured. Antlers High School was established as a makeshift morgue to receive bodies. In the 300 block of East Main Street, the large and historic St. Agnes Academy for Choctaw Indians was destroyed. Only two nuns were killed and all of the students survived. Reporting of the destructive tornado was superseded by coverage of the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which had also occurred that day. U.S. Army troops were dispatched from Camp Maxey, Texas, a World War II-era Army base located between Paris and Arthur City, Texas. The troops assisted with rescue, maintaining law and order, and clearing rubble.
Meteorologists have since retroactively categorized the Antlers tornado as an F5 on the Fujita Scale, the most powerful. Local residents believed that two tornadoes struck the town, with witnesses claiming to have seen two funnels were claimed to have been seen. The Antlers tornado funnel measured a half-mile wide at its base, and the two funnel clouds observed locally were within the larger one. The Antlers F5 was so powerful that it could be clearly heard, as well as seen, four miles (6 km) east of town at the Ethel Road crossroads, and as far north as Kosoma.
After 1945 the town paralleled the growth experienced by the United States at large. With the advent of universal electrical service, most homes gained air-conditioning, and later almost all had televisions. Social relations changed at this point as individuals and families found their entertainment indoors, rather than outdoors or downtown.
In 1975 R.C. Pruett opened East Town Village on the eastern outskirts of Antlers. He duplicated the kind of development taking place across the country, with major retailers relocating from historic downtowns to larger facilities on the outskirts. Pruett’s grocery store was a new one, but within a few years merchants began deserting Antlers’ historic downtown for East Town Village or other locations, or closing altogether.
At the same time, Antlers residents began shopping at Wal-Mart, which offered greater variety and lower prices than Antlers' local merchants were able to offer. In recent years there has been an effort to declare Antlers a “Main Street USA” site, to treat its historic center as a destination and emphasize its architecture. Due to a series of arson and fires beginning in the 1970s, Antlers lost a number of its stores, changing the character of its downtown. But the buildings which remain are sturdy brick buildings with antique facades. In recent years merchants have been removing the 1960s-era awnings and other structures to return the buildings to their historic character.
During recent years the Antlers Frisco Depot and Antlers Spring have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of their contribution to the architecture and history of the town. The depot was built in 1913, at a time when the state had imposed legal racial segregation. Its separate waiting rooms and toilets for white and black passengers expressed the racial inequality and lack of civil rights for minorities that was incorporated into the design of public buildings.
More information on the history of Antlers may be found at the Pushmataha County Historical Society.
The historic center of Antlers—not including its newly expanded city limits—straddles at least two watersheds. Rain falling in the northeast part of town drains into creeks flowing northward directly into the Kiamichi River. This soil is rocky, with bedrock near the surface. Water falling elsewhere in the town drains into creeks draining southward into Beaver Creek, which flows to the Kiamichi River. This soil is sandy. Standpipe Hill—which overlooks downtown Antlers—stands considerably higher, and features picturesque views to the north into the Kiamichi River valley.
The city has two motels and one hotel: Sportsman Inn & Suites, Budget Inn, and Hiway Inn & Suites respectively.
Until 2008, Antlers was home to the only red light in Pushmataha County. Even now, it has the only two traffic signals in the entire county. [This is only partly true. Before 1958 Antlers had two traffic signals. In about 1960 a big truck ran under the light and knocked it down. Instead of replacing the light, a four-way stop was erected. Some 50 years later, Antlers once again has two traffic lights. In 1958 the Lu Lodge Motel and Log Cabin Cafe were located on the southeast corner, Jimmy Maple's Chevrolet dealearship was on the northeast corner, and the Mobil station was on the northwest corner.]
|Climate data for Antlers, Oklahoma|
|Average high °F (°C)||52.5
|Average low °F (°C)||27.8
|Precipitation inches (mm)||2.0
|Source: Weatherbase.com |
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,453 people residing in the city. The population density was 931.1 people per square mile (359.6/km²). There were 1,177 housing units at an average density of 455 per square mile (175/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.13% White, 1.84% African American, 14.93% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 4.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.76% of the population.
There were 1,068 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 78.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $17,594, and the median income for a family was $22,684. Males had a median income of $23,958 versus $16,688 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,285. About 28.9% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.7% of those under age 18 and 23.2% of those age 65 or over.
The city operates using a council-manager government system. The city council comprises two members elected from each of the four wards. The city manager, city attorney, and municipal judge are appointed by the council. The mayor is elected at large.
The city has four schools, total: Brantly Elementary (Grades K-3, Vegher Intermediate (Grades 4-5), Obuch Middle School (Grades 6-8), and Antlers High School (9-12).
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- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- CensusViewer:Antlers, Oklahoma Population
- Wilson, Linda D. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Antlers." Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- "History", Oklahoma Turnpike Authority official website (accessed April 19, 2011).
- “Colonel Victor M. Locke, Jr.”, Indian-Pioneer Papers, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
- C.E. Dudley, Days Gone By, no date, Oklahoma History Center Library.
- Reminiscence of Ms. Myrtle Ashford Edmond, whose school bus stopped at the crossroads four miles east of Antlers. The children all got off the bus to look at and listen to the storm as it struck Antlers. At Kosoma, housewife Minona Akins heard the storm but did not understand what it was until learning the news the next day.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Historical Weather for Antlers, Oklahoma, United States".
- "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- Antlers Public Schools (accessed October 14, 2013)