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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1888

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1888 — The Arkansas City depot was completed. Built of red brick, it had a train weather vane atop its roof and ornate fireplaces and mantels inside. The station had two waiting rooms, one for men, and one for women. In the south end of the depot was an elaborate dining room with a lunch counter that became known as the Harvey House. It featured a magnificent tile mantle and fireplace centered by a stained glass window showcasing an urn heaped with fruit.

One of the famous travelers who came through Arkansas City was Wa-shun'-gah, tribal chief of the Kaw Indians, who made it a habit to frequent the Harvey House. It was Wa-shun'-gah who told of an old Indian belief that tornadoes never strike in the area between the junctions of two rivers.

Other well-known visitors to the Arkansas City depot included William Jennings Bryan who was one of the nation's leading orators. He supported child labor regulations and women's suffrage, and later became a Democratic presidential candidate. Charles Curtis, vice president of the United States and George W. Miller, founder of the 101 Ranch, were other famous men who passed through on the train.

The Cherokee Outlet was in the form of a rectangular strip lying south of and along the Kansas border, approximately 225 miles east and west, and 60 miles north and south. From its shape it became known as the Cherokee Strip or "The Strip." It included the counties now known as Kay, Osage, Pawnee, Noble, Grant, Garfield, Alfalfa, Major, Woods, Woodward, and Harper, plus portions of Ellis and Payne counties.

While driving their cattle across the Cherokee Outlet, cattlemen grazed their cattle for long periods due to the abundance of good water and grass. At first they did so without authority, but later made arrangements with the Cherokee Indians to pasture their cattle in the outlet at 25 cents per head, which later increased to 45 cents.

Soon, a cattlemen's association was formed, with government approval. The group leased the Cherokee Outlet from the Cherokees for five years at a rental of $100,000 a year.

In 1888, they obtained a second lease for five years at $200,000 per year.

There was considerable agitation regarding the opening of the Cherokee Outlet to settlement. The United States government negotiated with the Cherokee nation for the purchase of the outlet in order to open it for settlement. In earlier years, the government had purchased other eastern portions of the outlet as reservations for the Pawnees, the Kaws, and some other tribes located near the Kansas state line. Text Starts Here