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 and 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 at the 2000 census. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the town was named for a pair of antlers hung on a tree 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.
Antlers and the rest of the Kiamichi River valley fell within the realm of the American Indian culture based at Spiro Mounds. The Mississippian culture based there controlled a large portion of what is now southeastern Oklahoma and adjacent states.
More recently, nomadic Caddo Indians roamed the area. Rarely establishing permanent settlements, they were highly mobile and hunted and fished across the region.
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, Oklahoma. Train stations were established every few miles to aid in opening up the land and, more particularly, to serve as the locations 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 the existence of a freshwater spring. Adjacent stations were established at Davenport — now Kellond, Oklahoma — to the north, and Hamden, Oklahoma to the south.
Few roads or trails existed. Transportation was provided by the Frisco Railroad, which offered 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 coincided with 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.
Antlers was given its name due to the presence of large antlers, or the horns of bucks, nailed to nearby trees, ostensibly to mark the site of the spring. 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 on a tree close to the spring as a challenge to other hunters, who followed suit. Railroad officials later designated their new station stop as “Antlers” in recognition of this prominent local landmark.
American settlers from the United States lived in Antlers and surrounding areas at the discretion of the Choctaw government, which afforded the settlers no protections or government services of any kind, and 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 now had the rudiments of a justice system available.
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, and 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., so the justices, sheriffs, deputies, and court clerks were all Republican. Local residents, being from former Confederate States, were almost all Democrats.
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.
Upon the advent of Oklahoma's statehood on November 16, 1907, the Choctaw Nation and the Indian Territory ceased to exist. Antlers lost its prized status as a United States Court town and the complexion of the town’s population changed as those who worked in the “cottage industry” which had arisen to support the Court left in pursuit of other employment.
Sustained growth occurred for several decades, until April 12, 1945, when 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. The most significant destruction occurred in the 300 block of East Main Street, where the large and historic St. Agnes Academy for Choctaw Indians was destroyed. Miraculously, only two lives were lost: nuns who were killed by a falling chimney. All of the students survived. Very little press coverage was given of the tornado because it hit less than three hours after the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
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 there were two tornados striking the town, as 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 came to have 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.
The biggest change of the post-war years occurred in 1975, when R.C. Pruett opened East Town Village on the eastern outskirts of Antlers. In doing so, he mirrored a trend seen in almost every town across the country — major retailers relocated from historic downtowns to larger facilities on their 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, and to this day many of its customers come from Antlers.
In recent years there has been an effort to declare Antlers a “Main Street USA” site.
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. 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 returning the buildings to their original states.
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 architecture of the depot, built in 1913 with separate waiting rooms and toilets for white passengers and black passengers, pays homage to an earlier era in which racial inequality and lack of civil rights was institutionalized 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 counting 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 they just put up a 4-way stop. And now, 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).
- "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" at 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 could not attribute it to its source 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)