|Unorganized Territory of the United States|
|The three counties of the Oklahoma Panhandle|
|Capital|| Beaver City |
|Government||Provisional, unelected, unrecognized|
|•||1886–1887||Owen G. Chase|
|•||Texas Republic founded; includes Panhandle area||March 2, 1836|
|•||Texas Republic surrenders claim; Panhandle becomes "unattached" territory||1850|
|•||First petition for territorial status sent to Congress||February 1887|
|•||Second petition for territorial status sent to Congress||December 1887|
|•||Attached to Oklahoma Territory||1890|
The Oklahoma Panhandle is the extreme northwestern region of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, consisting of Cimarron County, Texas County and Beaver County, from west to east. As with other salients in the United States, its name comes from the similarity of its shape to the handle of a pan.
In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.
Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
Cimarron County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,475, making it the least-populous county in Oklahoma. Its county seat is Boise City.
The three-county Oklahoma Panhandle region had a population of 28,751 at the 2010 U.S. Census, representing 0.77% of the state's population. This is a decrease in total population of 1.2%, a loss of 361 people, from the 2000 U.S. Census.
The 2010 United States Census is the twenty-third and most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010. The census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired. The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million, as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000.
The Panhandle, 166 miles (267 km) long and 34 miles (55 km) wide, is bordered by Kansas and Colorado at 37°N on the north, New Mexico at 103°W on the west, Texas at 36.5°N on the south, and the remainder of Oklahoma at 100°W on the east. The largest town in the region is Guymon, which is the county seat of Texas County. Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma at 4,973 feet (1,516 m), is located in Cimarron County. The Panhandle occupies nearly all of the true High Plains within the state of Oklahoma, being the only part of the state lying west of the 100th meridian, which generally marks the westernmost extent of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The North Canadian River is named Beaver River or Beaver Creek on its course through the Panhandle. Its land area is 5,686 square miles (14,730 km2), which is larger than that of the state of Connecticut, and comprises 8.28 percent of Oklahoma's land area.
Kansas is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along it banks. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.
Colorado is a state of the Western United States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018, an increase of 13.25% since the 2010 United States Census.
The 37th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 37 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The area also includes Beaver Dunes State Park with sand dunes along the Beaver River and Optima Lake, the home of the Optima National Wildlife Refuge.
Optima Lake was built to be a reservoir in Texas County, Oklahoma. The site is located just north of Hardesty and east of Guymon in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Located in the middle of the Oklahoma panhandle, the 4,333-acre (17.54 km2) Optima National Wildlife Refuge is made up of grasslands and wooded bottomland on the Coldwater Creek arm of the Optima Lake project.
What is now the Oklahoma Panhandle has been occupied by humans for millennia. The Paleo-Indian people of the region were part of the Beaver River complex. A Paleo-Indian encampment, the Bull Creek site dates back to approximately 8450 BCE, and Badger Hole site dates to circa 8400 BCE.
Shortly before the arrival of European and African explorers,the panhandle was home to Southern Plains villagers. From 1200 to 1500 CE, the semi-sedentary Panhandle culture peoples, including the Antelope Creek Phase, lived in the region in large, stone-slab and plaster houses in villages or individual homesteads. As horticulturalists, they farmed maize and indigenous crops from the Eastern Agricultural Complex. Several Antelope Phase sites were founded near present-day Guymon, Oklahoma, including the McGrath, Stamper and Two Sisters sites. The arrival of horses from Spain in the 16th century, allowed American Indian tribes to increase their hunting ranges. These Southern Plains villagers became the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.
The Southern Plains villagers were semi-sedentary Indians who lived on the Great Plains in western Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and southeastern Colorado from about AD 800 until AD 1500.
Panhandle culture is a prehistoric culture of the southern High Plains during the Middle Ceramic Period from AD 1200 to 1400. Panhandle sites are primarily in the panhandle and west central Oklahoma and the northern half of the Texas Panhandle.
Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.
The Western history of the Panhandle traces its origins as being part of the Spanish New Spain empire. The Transcontinental Treaty (Adams–Onís Treaty) of 1819 between Spain and the United States set the western boundary of this portion of the Louisiana Purchase at the 100th meridian. With Mexican independence in 1821, these lands became part of Mexico. With the formation of the Texas Republic, they became part of Texas. When Texas joined the U.S. in 1846, the strip became part of the United States.
The Cimarron Cutoff for the Santa Fe Trail passed through the area soon after the trade route was established in 1826 between the Spanish in Santa Fe and the Americans in St. Louis. The route was increasingly used during the California Gold Rush. The Cutoff passed several miles north of what are now Boise City, Oklahoma and Clayton, New Mexico before continuing toward Santa Fe.
When Texas sought to enter the Union in 1845 as a slave state, federal law in the United States, based on the Missouri Compromise, prohibited slavery north of 36°30' parallel north. Under the Compromise of 1850, Texas surrendered its lands north of 36°30' latitude. The 170-mile strip of land, a "neutral strip", was left with no state or territorial ownership from 1850 until 1890. It was officially called the "Public Land Strip" and was commonly referred to as "No Man's Land."
The Compromise of 1850 also established the eastern boundary of New Mexico Territory at the 103rd meridian, thus setting the western boundary of the strip. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 set the southern border of Kansas Territory as the 37th parallel. This became the northern boundary of No Man's Land. When Kansas joined the Union in 1861, the western part of Kansas Territory was assigned to Colorado Territory, but did not change the boundary.
After the Civil War, cattlemen moved into the area. Gradually they organized themselves into ranches and established their own rules for arranging their land and adjudicating their disputes. There was still confusion over the status of the strip and some attempts were made to arrange rent with the Cherokees, despite the fact that the Cherokee Outlet ended at the 100th meridian. In 1885, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the strip was not part of the Cherokee Outlet.In 1886, Interior Secretary L. Q. C. Lamar declared the area to be public domain and subject to "squatter's rights".
The strip was not yet surveyed, and as that was one of the requirements of the Homestead Act of 1862, the land could not be officially settled. Settlers by the thousands flooded in to assert their "squatter's rights" anyway. They surveyed their own land and by September 1886 had organized a self-governing and self-policing jurisdiction, which they named the Cimarron Territory. Senator Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana introduced a bill in Congress to attach the so-called territory to Kansas. It passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives but was not signed by President Grover Cleveland.
The organization of Cimarron Territory began soon after Secretary Lamar declared the area open to settlement by squatters. The settlers formed their own vigilance committees, which organized a board charged with forming a territorial government. The board enacted a preliminary code of law and divided the strip into three districts. They also called for a general election to choose three members from each district to meet on March 4, 1887, to form a government.
The elected council met as planned, elected Owen G. Chase as president, and named a full cabinet. They also enacted further laws and divided the strip into five counties (Benton, Beaver, Palo Duro, Optima, and Sunset), three senatorial districts (with three members from each district), and seven delegate districts (with two members from each district). The members from these districts were to be the legislative body for the proposed territory. Elections were held November 8, 1887, and the legislature met for the first time on December 5, 1887.
After the meeting in March, Owen G. Chase went to Washington, D.C., to lobby for admission to Congress as the delegate from the new territory. He was not recognized by Congress.A group disputing the Chase organization met, and elected and sent its own delegate to Washington. A bill was introduced to accept Chase but was never brought to a vote. Neither delegation was able to persuade Congress to accept the new territory. Another delegation went in 1888 but was also unsuccessful.
In 1889, the Unassigned Lands to the east of the territory were opened for settlement, and many of the residents went there (see Land Run of 1889). The remaining population was generously estimated by Owen Chase at 10,000 after the opening. Ten years later, an actual count revealed only 2,548.The passage of the Organic Act in 1890 assigned Public Land Strip to the new Oklahoma Territory, and ended the short-lived Cimarron Territory aspirations.
In 1891, the government completed the survey and the remaining squatters were finally able to secure their homesteads under the Homestead Act. The new owners were then able to obtain mortgages against their property, enabling them to buy seed and equipment. Capital and new settlers came into the area and the first railroad, the Rock Island, built a line through the county from Liberal, Kansas, to Dalhart, Texas. Agriculture began changing from subsistence farms to grain exporters.
No Man's Land became Seventh County under the newly organized Oklahoma Territory, and was soon renamed Beaver County. Beaver City became the county seat. When Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory joined the Union in 1907 as the single state of Oklahoma, Beaver County was divided into the present Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron counties. The Oklahoma Panhandle had the highest population it has ever recorded at its first census, more than double its current population.
The Panhandle was the part of Oklahoma that was most adversely affected by the drought of the 1930s. The drought began in 1932 and created massive dust storms. By 1935, the area was widely known as the Dust Bowl. The dust storms were largely a result of poor farming techniques and a plow-up of the native grasses that held the fine soil in place. Despite government efforts to implement conservation measures and change the basic farming methods of the region, the Dust Bowl persisted for nearly a decade. It contributed significantly to the length of the Great Depression in the United States.Each of the three counties experienced a major loss of population during the 1930s.
As of the 2010 census, there were a total of 28,751 people, 10,451 households, and 7,466 families in the three counties that comprise the Oklahoma Panhandle.The racial makeup of the region was 80.26% white including persons of mixed race, 59.46% non-Hispanic white, 1.34% African American, 1.21% Native American, 1.18% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 15.53% from other races, and 2.78% from two or more races. Hispanic and Latino Americans made up 35.85% of the population.
As of the 2000 census, 7.7% of the population was under the age of five, and 12.5% of the population exceeded 65 years of age. Of the population under the age of 5, 54.95% were non-Hispanic white, 41.12% were Hispanic of any race, and 0.80% were African American alone. Of the population 65 years of age and over, 95.29% were non-Hispanic white, 3.52% were Hispanic, and 0.03% was African American. Of the non-Hispanic white population, 16.45% were 65 years of age or older.
As of the 1990 census, 89.40% of the population was non-Hispanic White, 9.11% were of Hispanic of any race, and 0.27% were African American. 6.72% of the population was under 5 years of age, and 14.7% were 65 years of age or older.
The median income for a household in the region was $34,404, and the median income for a family was $40,006. Males had a median income of $27,444 versus $19,559 for females. The per capita income for the region was $16,447.
The Panhandle is rather thinly populated (when compared to the rest of Oklahoma) making the labor force in this region very small. Farming and ranching operations occupy most of the economic activity in the region, with ranching dominating the drier western end. The region's higher educational needs are served by Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, 10 miles southwest of Guymon, the Panhandle's largest city.
The Oklahoma Panhandle is one of the most universally Republican areas of what has become one of the most Republican states in the nation. Beaver and Texas counties last supported a Democrat for president in 1948, while Cimarron County last supported a Democrat in 1976.[ citation needed ]
In the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, the three counties gave a weighted average of 87.5% of their votes to John McCain and 12.5% to Barack Obama, with McCain carrying the state over Obama 65.6% to 34.4%. [ citation needed ]Also, in 2006 the Oklahoma Panhandle counties were the only three where the majority voted against the successful Democratic incumbent, Governor Brad Henry.
In 2012, Democratic voters in the Panhandle voted for Randall Terry, a Pro-Life activist, over incumbent Democrat Barack Obama in the Democratic Presidential primary.[ citation needed ]
Woodward County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,081. Its county seat is Woodward.
Texas County is a county located in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its county seat is Guymon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,640. It is the second-largest county in the state, based on land area, and is named for Texas, the state that adjoins the county to its south.
Logan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,848. Its county seat is Guthrie.
Harper County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,685, making it the fourth-least populous county in Oklahoma. The county seat is Buffalo. It was created in 1907 from the northwestern part of Woodward County, and named for Oscar Green Harper, who was clerk of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention.
Ellis County is a county located on the western border of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,151, making it the fifth-least populous county in Oklahoma. Its county seat is Arnett.
Beaver County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,636. The county seat is Beaver. The name was given because of the presence of many beaver dams on the Beaver River, which runs through the area. It is located in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Morton County is a county in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the county population was 3,233. The largest city and county seat is Elkhart.
Clayton is a town and county seat of Union County, New Mexico, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 2,980. Clayton is a crossroads for tourists heading from Texas to Colorado, and Kansas / Oklahoma / Texas to Taos, New Mexico.
Beaver is a town and county seat in Beaver County, Oklahoma, United States. The community is in the Oklahoma Panhandle. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 1,515, a 3.5 percent decrease from 1,570 at the 2000 census.
Cimarron City is a town in Logan County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 150 at the 2010 census, a 39.4 percent gain from 110 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is a combination bedroom and retirement community.
Guymon is a city in and the county seat of Texas County, Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 11,442, an increase of 6.5 percent from 10,472 in 2000. Cattle feedlots, corporate pork farms, and natural gas dominate its economy, with wind energy production and transmission recently diversifying landowners' farms.
The North Canadian River is a tributary of the Canadian River, approximately 441 miles (710 km) long, that flows through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in the United States.
The Beaver River is the historic name for an intermittent river in Oklahoma that drains most of the Oklahoma Panhandle. It is also known as the North Canadian River; both names are in common use. The Beaver River flows from Union County, New Mexico, entering the Oklahoma Panhandle in Cimarron County, then flowing out of state through Sherman County in the Texas Panhandle for about 15 miles (24 km), then back to the Oklahoma panhandle in Texas County, where it is impounded in Optima Lake near Guymon. Downstream of the dam, it continues through the Oklahoma counties of Beaver and Harper before ending in Woodward County.
State Highway 136 is a state highway in Oklahoma. It runs 36.2 miles (58.3 km) across Texas County in the Oklahoma Panhandle, from the adjoining state of Texas in the south to Kansas in the north. SH-136 does not have any letter-suffixed spur routes branching from it, however, it does have a truck route bypassing downtown Guymon.
The history of Oklahoma refers to the history of the state of Oklahoma and the land that the state now occupies. Areas of Oklahoma east of its panhandle were acquired in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, while the Panhandle was not acquired until the U.S. land acquisitions following the Mexican–American War.
Oklahoma's Third Congressional District is the largest congressional district in the state, covering an area of 34,088.49 square miles, over 48 percent the state's land mass. The district is bordered by New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and the Texas panhandle. Altogether, the district includes a total of 32 counties, and covers more territory than the state's other four districts combined. It is one of the largest districts in the nation that does not cover an entire state.
Northwestern Oklahoma is the geographical region of the state of Oklahoma which includes the Oklahoma Panhandle and a majority of the Cherokee Outlet, stretching to an eastern extent along Interstate 35, and its southern extent along the Canadian River to Noble County. Northwest Oklahoma is also known by its Oklahoma Department of Tourism designation, Red Carpet Country, which is named after the region's red soil and alludes to the metaphor that the panhandle is a "red carpet" into Oklahoma. The region consists of Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Woods, Alfalfa, Grant, Kay, Ellis, Woodward, Major, Garfield, Noble, Dewey, Blaine, and Kingfisher counties.
The Anchor D Ranch in Guymon, Oklahoma was one of the largest cattle ranches in the No Man's Land section of the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle area. It was created circa 1878 by Ezra Dudley, a Yankee investor. In 1970 the Anchor D land was sold and part of it is now owned by the Freeman Family.
Coldwater Creek is an intermittently-flowing stream in northeastern New Mexico, and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. One source says that Coldwater Creek is also known as Rabbit Ears Creek, because it rises near Rabbit Ears, a pair of mountain peaks in Union County, New Mexico. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Coldwater Creek drains an area of 1,903 square miles (4,930 km2). As of 2015, Coldwater Creek is essentially a dry stream because of prolonged drought.
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