Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Heading North into Oklahoma

After our overnight stay in Fort Worth Texas, we headed north through Oklahoma… Our goal for this day’s drive was Pawhuska Oklahoma but I did have a couple of historic places and depots to check out along the way.

This classic structure is the Love County Courthouse in Marietta Oklahoma.  The courthouse, which is a mix of classic styles including Georgian, Gothic and Victorian, has not been altered since it was built back in 1910.

Love County was named for Overton Love, a prominent Chickasaw rancher, farmer, entrepreneur and politician.  His ranch and farm land covered 8,000 acres of Red River Bottomland.  Love also served as a member of both house of the Chickasaw National Council.  I also learned that Chickasaw owned enterprises are prominent employers in the county.

The photos above show the street side view and the track side view of the abandoned and neglected Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Marietta.  From what I could determine, at one point this building may have been restored, and served as the Love County Pioneer Museum. 

The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad first came to Marietta in 1887…and that spurred the growth of the town.  I found a postcard for sale dated 1909 that showed signs for white and colored waiting rooms.  Although Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer passes through town twice a day, Marietta isn’t one of its stops.     


·       The Depot and a couple other buildings in Marietta were featured in a movie starring David Carradine and Brenda Vaccaro entitled “Fast Charlie – The Moonbeam Rider”.

Contrast the condition of the abandoned depot in Marietta with another Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe depot.  Later used by the Rock Island Railroad, this depot is in Ardmore Oklahoma.  Of course, the Ardmore Depot has a major advantage.  It’s a functioning Amtrak Passenger Station…and it’s a stop on Amtrak’s 206 mile “Heartland Flyer” route from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth Texas. 

Note the passengers waiting for the train in the shade by the side of the depot.  The Heartland Flyer makes one daily round trip, reaching Fort Worth in the early afternoon and Oklahoma City each evening…taking about 4 hours in either direction. 

As regards this particular route, Amtrak is really a contractor for the States of Oklahoma and Texas.  After an absence of passenger trains on the route for 20 years, service was resumed in 1999.  First year ticket sales totaled 71,400 passengers.  By November of 2013, the Heartland Flyer carried its millionth passenger!

This is the track side view from the Ardmore Depot of the track and a good size functioning rail yard.  When the first train from the Santa Fe Railroad arrived in Ardmore in 1887, the town only consisted of a few tents.  By 1902, 2 other railroads, “The Frisco” and “The Rock Island” began service to the town.   The foremost locomotive is Burlington Northern #2570, a GP 35u engine built by the General Motors Electro-Motive Division in the early 1960s.  It formerly served the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.   

Ardmore is the County Seat for Carter County.  The Ardmore micropolitan statistical area encompasses a population of about 50,000 people.  Ardmore is located at the eastern edge of the Healdton Basin, one of the most oil-rich regions in the USA. 

The city was named after the affluent Philadelphia suburb and historic Pennsylvania Main Line stop of Ardmore Pennsylvania.  In turn, that locale was named after Ardmore in County Waterford in Ireland.  In Irish Gaelic   Ard Mór or in the Scottish Gaelic, Àird Mhòr means high grounds or hills.   

I noticed this nifty and decorative object just sitting in a field in Ardmore… Can you guess what it is?  It’s not something that you’d normally find in the middle of a field.

Ardmore's Great Fire of 1895 destroyed 86 buildings.  The population at the time was 3,000 but fortunately there was no loss of life.  Within a year, a new business district had replaced the old one.  Among the structures that burned down was the original Whittington Hotel.  Following the fire, a 72-room brick and sandstone hotel was built on the same site.  Following another local disaster in 1915, a second reconstruction was completed. 

The 'new' Whittington Hotel featured the first metal cage Otis elevator in the city...and that's what's pictured above.  The hotel continued to operate until 1965.  It was later razed for the bricks and fixtures.   


·       In 1894, notorious outlaw William M. Dalton, who didn’t ride with the Dalton Gang buy rather with the "Wild Bunch", was gunned down by a posse as he attempted to flee from his home in Ardmore.  To learn more go to

·       In 1903 newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst hired a special train to carry US Congressmen to the Oklahoma and Indian Territories in order to promote statehood.  A crowd of 4,000 people greeted the train when it arrived in Ardmore!

·       In November of 1907 following statehood for Oklahoma, Carter County was established.  The county is named for Charles D. Carter, a prominent Chickasaw and US Congressman.  He served in Congress for 20 years and he is buried in Ardmore. 

Artistically decorated fauna and flora seem to be really popular across the country.  Laurie posed beside this colorful buffalo/bison in front of the Ardmore Depot.  Over the past few years we’ve seen painted cows, roosters, pigs and impressionistic trees.  In cities across the USA, there have also been decorated/painted salmon, crabs, moose, bears, geckos, elk, beehives, lobster, dogs, cats, manatees, horses, tigers, pelicans, donkeys, frogs, etc.

In the 1920’s Ardmore was booming with an economy based on both oil and cotton.  The town contained 5 oil refineries, a gun factory, an iron foundry, stove factory, 2 candy factories, a cotton seed oil mill, a cotton compress, cattle feed lots, 2 dairy plants, 2 brick plants, coal and asphalt mining, 5 banks, a commercial airport and pilot school a radio station and an air ambulance service.  

  • In 1946 Roy Rogers and Dale Evans came to the area to shoot the movie “Home in Oklahoma”.  In late 1947 they returned and were married at a nearby ranch.  The next day, they repeated their vows in a public ceremony at Ardmore’s Civic Auditorium.  Music was provided by the “Sons of the Pioneers” and admission to the festivities was 50 cents.

In 1912, the Oklahoma, New Mexico and Pacific Railroad began operations in Ardmore.  Despite its grandiose name, the railroad only provided service from Ardmore to Ringling, 25 miles to the west.  

This is the only building in Oklahoma directly associated with John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  His railroad building efforts led to the founding of 3 towns in southern Oklahoma…Ringling, Wilson and Healdton…as well the Healdton Oil Field. 

Ringling and the City of Ardmore built this depot in 1915.   When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad bought the “Ringling Road” in 1927, it also acquired the depot.  The Rock Island Railroad also used this depot at one point in time.  In 1940, the American Legion moved into the depot and they still use this facility…


·       The oilfield at Healdton was vital to the Allied effort in World War I.  It supplied 50% of all the oil the Allied powers used during the war. The Ringling Road made this output possible.

·       In September of 1915, a gasoline tank car exploded in Ardmore’s rail yard.  The explosion damaged or destroyed many buildings, 4o people were killed and many more were injured.

·       In 1966, a military charter airplane crashed just north of Ardmore killing all 83 aboard.  This is the worst plane crash in Oklahoma history.

·       In 1995 a tornado that nearly destroyed the Uniroyal Goodrich…now the Michelin tire plant located near Ardmore.

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for the tour and history lesson!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   


  1. Awesome series, Dave, and I really like that nifty item, too!

  2. ... sooo, what is the nifty item to be used for ??? If anything, it could be an out house ... smiles ... Love, cat.

  3. When I read the history of towns, I'm amazed at how many were wiped out by a fire

  4. Dear Dave, I knew what it was from watching old movies and then reading along I was right. best, Catherine