Transportation development in Oklahoma goes back to early pioneers who began doing business in Indian Territory long before the land runs started in 1889 or statehood in 1907.
The steamboat Heroine was contracted by the U.S. Army to deliver supplies in 1837 to Fort Towson. Starting in 1867, cattle herds were driven across Indian Territory from Texas to stockyards on the Kansas-Pacific Railroad in Abilene, Kansas. That became the Chisholm Trail, which is now presented in a new exhibit at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher.
Route 66 was established by the U.S. Highway System on Nov. 11, 1926, to run from Chicago through Oklahoma and other states to Santa Monica, California. It is presented in exhibit galleries from the 1920s to the 1970s at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton. In 1927, George Failing rebuilt an oil rig so it could be mounted on a farm truck and transferred to new locations. The Portable Failing Rig is celebrated at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid.
These stories, told at historical society museums, demonstrate how transportation has played a major role in Oklahoma’s economic development.
“Transporting people and goods from Point A to Point B is critical for economic development,” said Bob Blackburn, Oklahoma Historical Society executive director. “Transportation routes have evolved over time from waterways and cattle trails to railroads and interstate highways. By connecting the dots of supply and demand, entrepreneurs could expand their markets and earn greater profits.”
The Heroine was rediscovered in 1999 when the historical society became aware of the wreck of a side-paddle wheel steamboat in the Red River. In 1837, the Heroine was contracted by the U.S. Army to deliver supplies to Fort Towson in Indian Territory. Although the Heroine did carry some passengers, its primary purpose was to deliver supplies.
The story of the Heroine’s journey to move goods to Indian…