Vinita, Oklahoma

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Vinita, Oklahoma
Downtown Vinita (2008)
Downtown Vinita (2008)
Nickname(s): "Gateway to Green Country"
Location of Vinita within Oklahoma
Location of Vinita within Oklahoma
Coordinates: 36°38′28″N 95°9′24″W / 36.64111°N 95.15667°W / 36.64111; -95.15667Coordinates: 36°38′28″N 95°9′24″W / 36.64111°N 95.15667°W / 36.64111; -95.15667
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Craig
 • Mayor Ronnie Starks
 • Total 6.0 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Land 6.0 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 699 ft (213 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,743
 • Density 960/sq mi (370/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 74301
Area code(s) 539/918
FIPS code 40-77550[1]
GNIS feature ID 1099271[2]

Vinita is a city in south-central Craig County, in northeastern Oklahoma, United States. It is the county seat of Craig County.[3] As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,743,[4] a decrease of 11.3 percent from 6,742 at the 2000 census.[5]


McDonalds over I-44, 2008

Vinita was established in 1871 by Elias Cornelius Boudinot. In 1889, gunman and lawman Tom Threepersons was born there. It was the first city in the state with electricity.[6] The city was first named "Downingville", and was a primarily Native American community. It was later renamed "Vinita" after Boudinot's friend, sculptor Vinnie Ream.[7] The city was incorporated in Indian Territory in 1898.[8]

The First National Bank opened in 1892, and the local Masonic Lodge was founded in 1894. Newspapers founded before the turn of the 20th Century included Vinita Indian Chieftain (1882), Vinita Leader (1885) and the Daily Indian Chieftain (1899). The Vinita Daily Journal began publication in 1907 and has continued into the 21st Century.[8]

Eastern State Hospital, a state mental health facility, was constructed in 1912 and admitted the first patients in January 1913. It was one of the county's largest employers until its operations were reduced during the 1990s.[8]

A McDonald's bridge-restaurant built over the top of Interstate 44, called the Glasshouse McDonald's, is the world's largest McDonald's restaurant in terms of area, occupying 29,135 square feet (2,706.7 m2).[9] It was formerly known as the Glass House Restaurant.[8] In 2013 and 2014 the "Glasshouse" received a $14.6 million renovation.[10] At its grand reopening on December 22, 2014, it was renamed the "Will Rogers Archway".[11]


Vinita is located in northeastern Oklahoma, a region of the state known as Green Country. According to the Vinita Chamber of Commerce, the town is often called the "Gateway to Green Country."[12] It sits at the base of the Ozark Highlands topographical region in a mix of prairie and forest. It is located in southern Craig County at 36°38′28″N 95°9′24″W / 36.64111°N 95.15667°W / 36.64111; -95.15667 (36.641193, −95.156676).[13] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.0 square miles (15.5 km2), all land.[4]

Vinita is 64 miles (103 km) northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 51 miles (82 km) southwest of Joplin, Missouri, both via Interstate 44.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 2,339
1910 4,082 74.5%
1920 5,010 22.7%
1930 4,263 −14.9%
1940 5,685 33.4%
1950 5,518 −2.9%
1960 6,027 9.2%
1970 5,847 −3.0%
1980 6,740 15.3%
1990 5,804 −13.9%
2000 6,472 11.5%
2010 5,743 −11.3%
Est. 2015 5,643 [14] −1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

As of the census [1] of 2000, there were 6,472 people, 2,381 households, and 1,454 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,486.9 people per square mile (574.4/km²). There were 2,694 housing units at an average density of 618.9 per square mile (239.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.32% White, 6.12% African American, 14.86% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 10.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.48% of the population.

There were 2,381 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 105.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,511, and the median income for a family was $33,461. Males had a median income of $26,263 versus $18,182 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,980. About 14.3% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.0% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


Early in its history, cattle ranching in the surrounding countryside contributed heavily to Vinita's economy. When Craig County was created at statehood, Vinita was designated as the county seat. City and county governments became significant employers.In 1935, the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) was created. GRDA put its headquarters in Vinita. It is still one of the largest employers in the city, along with two of its many customers: Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma Electric Company (KAMO) and Northeast Oklahoma Electric Co-op. Other important employers have included trucking companies, tower-building companies, Munsingwear, General Mills, Cinch, Dana Industries, and Hope Industries.[a][8]


Educational institutions were begun during Vinita's earliest days. Worcester Academy opened in 1883. The Worcester Academy in Vinita should not be confused with the Worcester Academy that was founded in 1843 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts school is still in operation. It was followed by Willie Halsell College in 1888.[8] Halsell College was originally established as Galloway College, named for Methodist Bishop Charles B. Galloway. The school was renamed in 1891 for Willie Halsell, the deceased daughter of wealthy rancher, W. E. Halsell, who had rescued the school financially. However, the school again failed and closed permanently in 1908.[16] The Roman Catholic Church operated Sacred Heart Academy, a boarding school, from 1897 until 1968.[8]


Elected officials[edit]

Administrative officers[edit]

  • Mayor - Ronnie Starks
  • Brian Prince - (Interim) City Clerk
  • Edna Smith - (Interim) Treasurer
  • Bobby Floyd, Jr. - Police Chief
  • Allen Goforth - Street Commissioner

City Council[edit]

  • Dale Haire and Lynnda Sooter - Ward 1
  • Dr. Danny Lankford and Carol Austin - Ward 2
  • Lawana Downing and Skip Briley - Ward 3
  • Jim Wisdom and Denver Davenport - Ward 4[17]

Other city officials[edit]

  • Jiim Whisenant - Director of Operations
  • Brian Prince - Interim City Clerk
  • Edna Smith - Deputy Clerk
  • Edna Smith - Interim Treasurer
  • Lori Glasscock - Court Clerk
  • Jackie Johnson - Code Enforcement
  • Bill Wickliffe - Information Technology
  • Fire Department - Kevin Wofford (Chief)
  • Parks, Cemetery and Transfer Station - Ben Elmore (Supervisor)
  • Utilities
    • Mike Berend - Water/Sewer Maintenance Supervisor
    • Jon Peetom - Water Treatment Facility Supervisor
    • Bret Speer - Waste Water Treatment Facility Supervisor



Vinita Municipal Airport (FAA Identifier H04) has served the city since 1965. It is about 2 miles (3.2 km) SE of downtown Vinita. The street address is 104 East Illinois Street. The airport manager is Jim Whisenant. This is a municipally-owned facility that primarily handles personal or chartered aircraft, with no scheduled airline service.[18]

Notable people[edit]

  • Yvonne Chouteau (1929 - 2016), Born in Vinita; became world-famous ballerina (one of the "Five Moons")[8]
  • Jim Edgar (b. 1946), Born in Vinita, but raised in Charleston, Illinois, was Illinois governor (1991-1999)
  • Phil McGraw (b. 1950), Born in Vinita; American television personality, author, psychologist
  • Tom Threepersons (1889—1969) Born in Vinita; lawman, gunfighter, and inventor of the Threepersons holster

National Register of Historic Places[edit]

External video
Carselowey House.JPG
Cherokee citizen's home listed on National Register of Historic Places, (4:17), Cherokee Nation



  1. ^ Hope Industries is affiliated with the Home of Hope for the mentally disabled.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Vinita city, Oklahoma". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Vinita, OK Population – Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts – CensusViewer". Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Oklahoma State Facts". Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  7. ^ Vinita Oklahoma Area Chamber of Commerce promoting visitor information for the purpose of relocation & tourism
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Craig County Genealogical Society. "Vinita," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, Accessed September 3, 2015.
  9. ^ The Pride of Vinita, Oklahoma , URL accessed 07:05, 2 April 2006 (UTC). Archived September 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  10. ^ Renovations
  11. ^ "Iconic arch over Will Rogers Turnpike reopens". Tulsa World. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "Welcome to Vinita Oklahoma." Vinita Chamber of Commerce. Accessed October 14, 2016.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ Attala, Meghan Iman. "Galloway College." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed October 15, 2016.
  17. ^ City of Vinita's Elected Officials Accessed October 14, 2016.
  18. ^ Vinita Municipal Airport. 15 September 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016.

External links[edit]