Ponca City Information
Ponca City History
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1946 – It was a good year for Ponca City. The Chamber of Commerce saw its postwar plans for new industry unfolding even faster than had been hoped.
The housing business was booming with the construction of 98 new houses, 25 commercial properties, and expenditure of 1000’s of dollars in alterations and repairs. Building permits issued represented an investment of $670,000.
In May, civic leaders including Mayor Overstreet, Chamber President I.H. Needham (who became mayor in 1956), and Chairman of the Industrial Committee G.P. Broaddus successfully wooed Piper Aircraft Corporation to come to town and establish a manufacturing plant here. Ponca City won out over 28 other towns in the bid for Piper’s Midwestern division. The Chamber of Commerce, with the help of the citizens of Ponca City, raised $85,000 to construct a railroad spur to the proposed plant site. Piper leased the Darr School property north of the airport. The plant had an annual payroll of $400,000, with 300 workers building planes.
At the end of July, the first six Piper J-3 planes were completed at the Ponca City factory, and flown out to distributors in six states.
The Cities Service Oil refinery denied a rumor that the company was pulling out of Ponca City. Later in the year, they announced that they would construct a $16,000 telephone office to serve the Gas Company and refinery.
George Ade Davis, president of the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, announced an expansion program of more than $2,500,000.
Charles P. Howell was reelected superintendent of Ponca City Schools for twelfth consecutive year.
The Federal Housing Authority had allocated 25 family dwelling units for veterans. The FHA halted the project due to lack of funds, and 12 were finished and sold.
First Christian Church is the first church in Ponca City to install an air conditioning system.
Ponca City’s two banks, the Security and the First National, have over $17 million in deposits, a 32% increase over 1945. Loans total $2,500,000.
A group of citizens in Osage County circulated petitions for construction of a new river bridge and straightening the road into Ponca City. Lew Wentz conferred with Gov. Robert Kerr about the city’s concerns.
Construction of flood protection works along Arkansas River was approved. Estimated cost was $148,000, with Ponca City’s part being $26,000.
Buildings on the north side of Grand Avenue, from Fourth Street to Fifth Street, part of the property owned by the Marland Estate, were sold to Mrs. Helen Clarke Donahoe.
Mr. C.M. McVay opened a flying school at the airport.
Santa Fe’s new depot opened in April.
H.B. (Pete) Drake announced plans to purchase the 70-acre Marland Park, land that had been used as a golf course. The land was the property of Marland Estate, Inc., under the control of former mayor, William H. McFadden. Interested citizens put up $5,000 and McFadden added $10,000 in an effort to purchase the Drake contract.
In May, plans for a $10,000 addition to the Donahoe building were announced. Forty feet were added to the rear of Drake’s Jewelry and Van Winkle’s Clothing store.
On August 14, 15,000 people participated in the first annual celebration of V-J Day. It was the largest crowd assembled in Ponca City since the 1930 dedication of the Pioneer Woman Statue.
By August 22, seven more Cub airplanes, manufactured completely in the new mid-continent branch of the Piper Aircraft Corporation in Ponca City, were certified for immediate delivery to distributors.
Braniff Airways reinstated airline service to Ponca City.
Conoco promoted their new Tour-aides, the set of maps and travel advice that were tailored to the needs of each customer. The company distributed almost 245,000 Tour-aides in 1946.
Confusion hit the city because of a national railroad strike. Forty men were idle, the freight yards were full of consignments, passenger service was almost at a standstill and the mail service was only a trickle of its usual volume.
At the beginning of the school year, the Ponca City Military Academy was filled to capacity with 99 cadets. Total enrollment in the public schools on opening day was 3,692, 70 more than the prior year.
Conoco filed suit in Oklahoma City seeking an injunction against the state highway commission, to prevent the rerouting of Highway 60 through the refinery.
In October, a total of 1,067 veterans in the Ponca City area were given information concerning G.I. benefits.
George Ade Davis, president of the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, announced plans for an expansion program of the local power plant at a cost of $2,500,000.
Due to the increased cost of living and the critical teacher shortage, the Board of Education announced that all employees of the Ponca City School System would receive a pay boost during the first five months of 1947, amounting to $12 each month.
City firemen embarked on an intensive inspection of all hotels and rooming houses located in the business district.
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