My curiosity has always been gratified by my day job. For over 30 years now, the State of Oklahoma has paid me to travel to its oddest corners to carry out its business. When I was young, I didn’t always know the history of where I was at any given time. These days, though, I have a better idea.
Today, I drove north up Highway 81, which approximates the route of the old Chisholm Trail through most of the state. In the Chickasaw Nation, the old cattle trail was pretty close to the 98th Meridian, the western boundary of both the Chickasaw Nation and Indian Territory.
The river known today as the South Canadian was known only as the Canadian in times past. Old Oklahoma Territory was located north of this river.
On 81 north of the South Canadian and between old Fort Reno (El Reno) and Okarche today, I was reminded that even places relatively far away from our area contributed greatly to our history right here at home. When I spied this historical marker, I turned around to take a quick picture of it before getting on with my work.
It is interesting to know about the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indian Reservation (that’s what Agency means). But it is much more compelling to take note of the information about the “Cheyenne Transporter.” This newspaper was the first published in the western area of what would become Oklahoma when the entire area – old Oklahoma Territory included – was still known as Indian Territory.
The “Cheyenne Transporter” was first published in 1879 but not many issues seem to exist before around 1882. It is through the efforts of this newspaper’s long dead but obviously well-traveled and dedicated reporters that we know much more about what the area around the Little Washita River was like in 1883. 135 years later, the newsmen still provide us with a close description of our entire area and, most importantly, a list of the cattlemen living in our area (Alex’s founder included), the location of their home ranches and published depictions of all their stock brands!
This monument on the side of a busy Oklahoma highway to the north of us is just another example of how our history lives all around us if we just keep looking out for it!