Looking forward to showing Footprints in the Dew: The Last Ten Tapes at the Wagoner, OK Civic Center tonight (3/25/2017)….
Welcome back. Henry “Big Foot” Wagoner, you may not have heard of his name before and why would you, back in 1887 Big Foot was just a railroad dispatcher on a branch of the Missouri Pacific railway at the intersection where the Kansas-Texas railway crossed the Pacific line. This was Indian Territory and few white men were in the area but that would all change a few years later when in 1896 what was commonly called the “Wagoner switch” was incorporated and named Wagoner, becoming the first incorporated town in Indian Territory. Hotels sprang up overnight and the boom was on.
By 1910 the population reached over 4,000 and the once quiet piece of countryside had three railroad trunk lines running through it carrying twenty passenger trains a day. The relocation of the railroad’s division headquarters to Wagoner and the growth of other industries which relied on rail service attracted more people to town. With three giant grain elevators, a cotton gin, an iron foundry and a cement plant, the area that Big Foot had settled practically by himself was a big time city and growing.
According to Wikipedia and my library resources, the Great Depression slowed things down a bit but when World War II began Wagoner’s easy access to thousands of troops station at Camp Gruber and the Oklahoma Work Ordnance helped Wagoner survive.
The 1950s brought the construction of Lake Fort Gibson and the town transformed itself into a recreational center and retirement community. Nowadays with the Kerr-McClellan River Navigation System nearby along with a highway linking Wagoner to Tulsa, it’s practically a suburb. I’ll be there autographing books for a fundraiser on Saturday night which will benefit their Main Street program. I’m looking forward to my visit and to learning more about a town whose history predates statehood. I wonder if Big Foot had any idea what this remote part of his world would become.
This past Friday morning I was in Norman for a meeting of the Norman Business Association and as usual I found out about several interesting things. Did you know that Oklahoma is home to the National Weather and Science Museum? If you didn’t it’s probably because the museum is brand new and just now opening. I met the museum director who is a very friendly and knowledgeable guy and he told me that they have a state-of-the-art facility with exhibits designed for all ages. I didn’t have time to stop by on Friday but friends it’s definitely on my calendar for a visit. If weather interests you check this place out, my new friend Doug Forsyth is the director and the museum is located in Norman. For all the scoop go to myweathermuseum.com or call (405) 651-8649.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…….