Welcome back. Traveling up and down, the highways of America, bringing back the stories I find along the way, I am wearing out cars or as we called them in the old days, horses. From last week’s PBR bull riding event in Oklahoma City, I headed east on I-40 to Shawnee. After the Civil War several Indian tribes were relocated to this area and the Sac-Fox, Shawnee, Kickapoo and Pottawatomie still have their tribal headquarter here. The development of the town began with a major cattle trail used by drovers bringing cattle from Texas. With the cattle came the railroads and by 1877 with settlers and trading posts everywhere, Shawnee was born. In 1910 Oklahoma Baptist University opened its doors and much later the Sonic Corporation was founded here was well. After more research I learned that Shawnee is also a big farming community where cotton and peaches are both big crops. Today the town is divided in two between the newer part that sits along I-40 and the historic downtown. The Shawnee Expo Center where I hung my hat for two days is in the newer section but if you visit you will definitely want to see old town for a trip back in time to Indian Territory. From Shawnee, a town of thirty-one thousand residents, this weekend I will be going on to Lawton with a population of ninety-four thousand and growing. I’m sure many of you know that Lawton is home to Fort Sill which was established back in 1869. After it was completed the fort quickly became an important base for military operations. Six cavalry regiments and a bunch of early frontier scouts with names that everyone recognizes led the way. Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok and the 10th Cavalry, who were also called buffalo soldiers, all stayed at Fort Sill and played a major role in settling the west. The 10th Cavalry was led by Henry O. Flipper who was the first black man to graduate from West Point. In 1894 the famous Apache warrior Geronimo was captured and housed outside of the fort along with three hundred and forty members of his tribe. Geronimo died at Fort Sill in 1909 and is buried in the cemetery there along with another famous Indian leader Quanah Parker. Fort Sill’s important role in aviation began in 1917 when an airfield was built housing the first Balloon Squadron that was stationed there. During World War I balloon squadrons were sent to Europe where they were used to observe enemy activities. As an aviation base the fort continues to play a role in the protection of our country today. There are three museums in Lawton which are a great resource for local history. The Museum of the Great Plains is all about the early days of the town and its settlements. The Fort Sill Museum is a must see as well and sits right where the original fort was. The Comanche National Museum is of course all about the Comanche tribe, past and present. Numerous prominent people have come from Lawton including the late Comanche code talker Charlie Chibity, the famous actress Joan Crawford and NBA basketball great Stacy King. If you’re heading to southwestern Oklahoma or looking for a place for a long weekend, check out Lawton. Before I go here’s this week’s scoop and a couple of dates you might want to put on your calendar, April 12th and 13th. If you are a Kevin Costner fan here’s your chance to meet him at the 59th Annual Western Heritage Awards which are held very year at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. Call them for all the info. I’ll be bringing you more about the awards. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….. #