Tulsa County, Oklahoma

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Tulsa County
Tulsa County Courthouse
Tulsa County Courthouse
Map of Oklahoma highlighting Tulsa County
Location within the U.S. state of Oklahoma
Map of the United States highlighting Oklahoma
Oklahoma's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°07′N 95°56′W / 36.12°N 95.94°W / 36.12; -95.94
Country United States
State Oklahoma
Named forcity of Tulsa
Largest cityTulsa
 • Total587 sq mi (1,520 km2)
 • Land570 sq mi (1,500 km2)
 • Water17 sq mi (40 km2)  2.9%%
 • Total603,403
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,134/sq mi (438/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district1st

Tulsa County is located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 603,403,[1] making it the second-most populous county in Oklahoma, behind only Oklahoma County. Its county seat and largest city is Tulsa, the second-largest city in the state.[2] Founded at statehood, in 1907, it was named after the previously established city of Tulsa. Before statehood, the area was part of both the Creek Nation and the Cooweescoowee District of Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory.

Tulsa County is included in the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Tulsa County is notable for being the most densely populated county in the state. Tulsa County also ranks as having the highest income.[3]


The history of Tulsa County greatly overlaps the history of the city of Tulsa. This section addresses events that largely occurred outside the present city limits of Tulsa.

Lasley Vore Site[edit]

The Lasley Vore Site, along the Arkansas River south of Tulsa, was claimed by University of Tulsa anthropologist George Odell to be the most likely place where Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe first encountered a group of Wichita people in 1719. Odell's statement was based on finding both Wichita and French artifacts there during an architectural dig in 1988.

Old Fort Arbuckle[edit]

The U. S. Government's removal of Native American tribes from the southeastern United States to "Indian Territory" did not take into account how that would impact the lives and attitudes of the nomadic tribes that already used the same land as their hunting grounds. At first, Creek immigrants stayed close to Fort Gibson, near the confluence of the Arkansas and Verdigris rivers. However, the government encouraged newer immigrants to move farther up the Arkansas. The Osage tribe had agreed to leave the land near the Verdigris, but had not moved far and soon threatened the new Creek settlements.[4]

In 1831, a party led by Rev. Isaac McCoy and Lt. James L. Dawson blazed a trail up the north side of the Arkansas from Fort Gibson to its junction with the Cimarron River. In 1832, Dawson was sent again to select sites for military posts. One of his recommended sites was about two and a half miles downstream from the Cimarron River junction. The following year, Brevet Major George Birch and two companies of the 7th Infantry Regiment followed the "Dawson Road" to the aforementioned site. Flattering his former commanding officer, General Matthew Arbuckle, Birch named the site "Fort Arbuckle."[4][5]

According to Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the fort was about 8 miles (13 km) west of the present city of Sand Springs, Oklahoma.[6] Author James Gardner visited the site in the early 1930s. His article describing the visit includes an old map showing the fort located on the north bank of the Arkansas River near Sand Creek, just south of the line separating Tulsa County and Osage County. After ground was cleared and a blockhouse built, Fort Arbuckle was abandoned November 11, 1834. The remnants of stockade and some chimneys could still be seen nearly a hundred years later.[5] The site was submerged when Keystone Lake was built.

Battle of Chusto-Talasah[edit]

Main article Battle of Chusto-Talasah

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, many Creeks and Seminoles in Indian Territory, led by Opothleyahola, retained their allegiance to the U. S. Government. In November, 1861, Confederate Col. Douglas H. Cooper led a Confederate force against the Union supporters with the purpose of either compelling their submission or driving them out of the country. The first clash, known as the Battle of Round Mountain, occurred November 19, 1861. Although the Unionists successfully withstood the attack and mounted a counterattack, the Confederates claimed a strategic victory because the Unionists were forced to withdraw.[7]

The next battle occurred December 9, 1861. Col. Cooper's force attacked the Unionists at Chusto-Talasah (Caving Banks) on the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek in what is now Tulsa County. The Confederates drove the Unionists across Bird Creek, but could not pursue, because they were short of ammunition. Still, the Confederates could claim victory.[7]

Coming of the railroads[edit]

The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad had extended its main line in Indian Territory from Vinita to Tulsa in 1883, where it stopped on the east side of the Arkansas River. The company, which later merged into the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (familiarly known as the Frisco), then built a steel bridge across the river to extend the line to Red Fork. This bridge allowed cattlemen to load their animals onto the railroad west of the Arkansas instead of fording the river, as had been the practice previously. It also provided a safer and more convenient way to bring workers from Tulsa to the oil field after the 1901 discovery of oil in Red Fork.

Oil Boom[edit]

A wildcat well named Sue Bland No. 1 hit paydirt at 540 feet on June 25, 1901 as a gusher. The well was on the property of Sue A. Bland (née Davis), located near the community of Red Fork. Mrs. Bland was a Creek citizen and wife of Dr. John C. W. Bland, the first practicing physician in Tulsa. The property was Mrs. Bland's homestead allotment. Oil produced by the well was shipped in barrels to the nearest refinery in Kansas, where it was sold for $1.00 a barrel.[8]

Other producing wells followed soon after. The next big strike in Tulsa County was in the vicinity of Glenn Pool.

Ironically, while the city of Tulsa claimed to be "Oil Capital of the World" for much of the 20th century, a city ordinance banned drilling for oil within the city limits.

Tulsa County Court House[edit]

In 1911-1912, Tulsa County built a court house in Tulsa on the northeast corner of Sixth Street and South Boulder Avenue. Yule marble was used in its construction. The land had previously been the site of a mansion owned by George Perryman and his wife. This was the court house where a mob of white residents gathered on May 31, 1921, threatening to lynch a young black man held in the top-floor jail. It was the beginning of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

An advertisement for bids specified that the building should be fireproof, built of either reinforced concrete or steel and concrete. The size was to be 120 feet (37 m) by 120 feet (37 m) with three floors and a full basement. Cost of the building was not to exceed $200,000. The jail on the top floor was not to exceed $25,000.[9]

The building continued to serve until the present court house building (shown above) opened at 515 South Denver. The old building was then demolished and the land was sold to private investors. The land is now the site of the Bank of America building, completed in 1967.

1921 race riot[edit]

In the early 20th century, Tulsa was home to the "Black Wall Street", one of the most prosperous Black communities in the United States at the time.[10] Located in the Greenwood neighborhood, it was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, said to be "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history",[11] in which mobs of white Tulsans killed black Tulsans, looted and robbed the black community, and burned down homes and businesses.[10] Sixteen hours of massacring on May 31 and June 1, 1921, ended only when National Guardsmen were brought in by the Governor. An official report later claimed that 23 Black and 16 white citizens were killed, but other estimates suggest as many as 300 people died, most of them Black.[10] Over 800 people were admitted to local hospitals with injuries, and an estimated 1000 Black people were left homeless as 35 city blocks, composed of 1,256 residences, were destroyed by fire. Property damage was estimated at $1.8 million.[10] Efforts to obtain reparations for survivors of the violence have been unsuccessful, but the events were re-examined by the city and state in the early 21st century, acknowledging the terrible actions that had taken place.[12]

Geography and climate[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 587 square miles (1,520 km2), of which 570 square miles (1,500 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (2.9%) is water.[13]

The Arkansas River drains most of the county. Keystone Lake, formed by a dam on the Arkansas River, lies partially in the county. Bird Creek and the Caney River, tributaries of the Verdigris River drain the northern part of the county.[6]

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 79 90 96 102 96 103 112 110 109 98 87 80
Norm High °F 46.5 52.9 62.4 72.1 79.6 88 93.8 93.2 84.1 74 60 49.6
Norm Low °F 26.3 31.1 40.3 49.5 59 67.9 73.1 71.2 62.9 51.1 39.3 29.8
Rec Low °F -8 -11 -3 22 35 49 51 52 35 18 10 -8
Precip (in) 1.6 1.95 3.57 3.95 6.11 4.72 2.96 2.85 4.76 4.05 3.47 2.43
Source: USTravelWeather.com [3]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1790-1960[15] 1900-1990[16]
1990-2000[17] 2010-2019[1]

As of the census[18] of 2010, there were 603,403 people, 241,737 households, and 154,084 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,059 people per square mile (409/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 69.2% White, 10.7% Black or African American, 6.0% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.8% from other races, and 5.8% from two or more races. 11.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race (8.8% Mexican). 14.2% were of German, 12.3% Irish, 8.8% English, 8.5% American, 2.3% French, and 2.3% Scottish ancestries. 88.3% spoke English, 8.1% Spanish, and 0.4% Vietnamese as their first language.[19][20]

There were 241,737 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 29.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 22% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.30% under the age of 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 11.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $47,005, and the median income for a family was $60,093. The per capita income for the county was $27,425. About 11.0% of families and 15.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.6% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.[21][22] Of the county's population over the age of 25, 29.2% held a bachelor's degree or higher, and 88.2% have a high school diploma or equivalent.


Tulsa County is considerably Republican for an urban county; it has voted Republican at every election since Franklin Roosevelt’s landslide in 1936.[23] The county's Republican bent predates Oklahoma's swing toward the GOP. As a measure of how Republican the county is, Barry Goldwater won the county by 11 points even as Lyndon Johnson became the last Democrat to date to carry Oklahoma.

Only George H. W. Bush in 1992 has obtained less than a majority for the Republicans in the county since Roosevelt’s landslides, and then only because of Ross Perot’s strong candidacy – although neither Perot nor George Wallace in 1968 made as much impact here as both did in some other parts of Oklahoma. In 2020, Joe Biden became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to win more than 40% of the vote in Tulsa County, and only the second to do so since 1948. It is one of only two counties, alongside Oklahoma County, where Biden outperformed Southerner Jimmy Carter's margin as he narrowly lost the state in 1976.

The city of Tulsa proper is a swing city, after voting for Donald Trump in 2016 by four points swung to a six-point Joe Biden win in 2020, and also backed Drew Edmondson for Governor in 2018 by 13 points. The suburbs, however, remain very strongly Republican.[24][25][26][27]

In February 2020, registered Republicans were reduced from a majority to a plurality in the county's voter registration.[28]

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of January 15, 2021[29]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Republican 185,517 49.21%
Democratic 123,199 32.68%
Others 68,283 18.11%
Total 376,999 100%
Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 56.5% 150,574 40.9% 108,996 2.7% 7,108
2016 58.4% 144,258 35.6% 87,847 6.1% 14,949
2012 63.7% 145,062 36.3% 82,744
2008 62.2% 158,363 37.8% 96,133
2004 64.4% 163,452 35.6% 90,220
2000 61.3% 134,152 37.3% 81,656 1.3% 2,883
1996 53.7% 111,243 37.1% 76,924 9.3% 19,189
1992 49.1% 117,465 29.8% 71,165 21.1% 50,438
1988 64.5% 127,512 34.9% 69,044 0.6% 1,207
1984 72.9% 159,549 26.6% 58,274 0.5% 1,049
1980 66.3% 124,643 28.4% 53,438 5.4% 10,067
1976 61.6% 108,653 37.0% 65,298 1.3% 2,349
1972 77.8% 125,278 20.3% 32,779 1.9% 3,069
1968 57.1% 81,476 23.0% 32,748 19.9% 28,443
1964 55.5% 76,770 44.5% 61,484
1960 63.0% 89,899 37.0% 52,725
1956 65.5% 83,219 34.5% 43,805
1952 61.3% 73,862 38.8% 46,728
1948 52.7% 42,892 47.3% 38,548
1944 56.0% 42,663 43.9% 33,436 0.1% 89
1940 54.8% 40,342 45.0% 33,098 0.2% 135
1936 40.9% 28,759 58.7% 41,256 0.5% 328
1932 42.0% 25,541 58.0% 35,330
1928 70.5% 38,769 29.2% 16,062 0.3% 167
1924 55.5% 19,537 40.9% 14,377 3.6% 1,265
1920 57.4% 14,357 40.1% 10,025 2.5% 617
1916 41.7% 3,857 48.7% 4,497 9.6% 886
1912 38.0% 2,029 51.4% 2,747 10.7% 571
1908 43.2% 2,150 52.1% 2,292 4.6% 228

Parks and recreation[edit]

River Parks was established in 1974 as a joint operation of the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County, with funding from both governments as well as private entities. It is not a part of the Tulsa Parks and Recreation Department, but is managed by the River Parks Authority. It is a series of linear parks that run adjacent to the Arkansas River for about 10 miles (16 km) from downtown to the Jenks bridge. Since 2007 a significant portion of the River Parks area has been renovated with new trails, landscaping and playground equipment. The River Parks Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area on the west side of the Arkansas River in south Tulsa is a 300 acres (120 ha) area that contains over 45 miles (72 km) of dirt trails available for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and horseback riding.[31] The "Tulsa Townies" organization provide bicycles that may be checked out for use. There are three kiosks in the parks where bicycles may be obtained or returned.[32]




Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Former communities[edit]

NRHP sites[edit]

The following sites in Tulsa County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Per capita income in Tulsa County highest in state | Tulsa World
  4. ^ a b Carter, Sandi and Marlene Clark. "Old Fort Arbuckle." Accessed April 10, 2011.[1]
  5. ^ a b Gardner, James E. Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 11, No. 2. June, 1933. "One Hundred Years Ago in the Region of Tulsa."
  6. ^ a b O"Dell, Larry. "Tulsa County," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009. Accessed April 5, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Civil War Academy.com Website. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  8. ^ Clinton, Fred S. "First Oil and Gas Well in Tulsa County," Chronicles of Oklahoma, p. 312-332. Accessed April 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Sketches for Court House and County Jail." The American Contractor. Accessed July 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d Ellsworth, Scott. "The Tulsa Race Riot". Tulsa Reparations. Archived from the original on December 10, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2007.
  11. ^ Ellsworth, Scott (2009). "Tulsa Race Riot". The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  12. ^ Sulzberger, A.G. (June 20, 2011). "As Survivors Dwindle, Tulsa Confronts Past". The New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  13. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  16. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  19. ^ American FactFinder - Results
  20. ^ American FactFinder - Results
  21. ^ American FactFinder - Results
  22. ^ "Tulsa County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  23. ^ Sullivan, Robert David; ‘How the Red and Blue Map Evolved Over the Past Century’; America Magazine in The National Catholic Review; June 29, 2016
  24. ^ Bloch, Matthew; Buchanan, Larry; Katz, Josh; Quealy, Kevin (2018-07-25). "An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Presidential Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  25. ^ "Precinct-by-precinct result maps: How Oklahomans voted on president, state questions, U.S. Senate". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  26. ^ "2018 November General Election". Oklahoma Election Board. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  27. ^ "2020 November General Election". Oklahoma Election Board. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  28. ^ "February 2020 Month End Registration Statistics by County" (PDF). Oklahoma State Elections Board. February 29, 2020.
  29. ^ "Current Registration Statistics by County" (PDF). ok.gov. January 15, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  31. ^ "About the Park." River Parks Authority. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  32. ^ Tulsa Townies. "How it works." Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  33. ^ Alsuma website. Retrieved September 30, 2011
  34. ^ "Alsuma: The Town That Disappeared From Southeast Tulsa." Arnett, David. GTR Newspapers. March 30, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  35. ^ a b Breed, David M., with early drafting and initial research by Kent Schell. "Appendix D: Early History of Southwest Tulsa" Southwest Tulsa Planning Team, Southwest Tulsa Historical Society and Tulsa Planning Department. p. 111. Accessed April 5, 2015.
  36. ^ a b Tulsa City Council. A History of Tulsa Annexation. 2004. Accessed April 5, 2015.
  37. ^ Tulsa Preservation Commission. "Urban Development {1901–1945) Accessed May 5, 2011.[2]>
  38. ^ Gregory, Carl N. "Sand Springs," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009. Accessed April 5, 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°07′N 95°56′W / 36.12°N 95.94°W / 36.12; -95.94