Article Overview: Historic Sites In Oklahoma
Historic Sites In Oklahoma. More Than Just Parks has 15 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the 15 Historic Sites In Oklahoma that you’ll want to see.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. It also includes sites not managed by the National Park Service. After all, we’re more than just parks!
If you are planning a trip to Oklahoma then you might want to pick up a copy of Weird Oklahoma: Your Travel Guide to Oklahoma’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Wesley Treat.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Historic Sites In Oklahoma
Historic Sites In Oklahoma
- Top 15 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
- Top 10 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
- Top 5 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
Top 15 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
15. Price Tower
The Price Tower is indeed a unique and notable structure designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
It stands out as his only realized skyscraper and one of his few vertically oriented buildings that still exists today.
Built in 1956, the tower has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark and has become a popular tourist destination for its architectural significance and world-class exhibitions.
14. George M. Murrell Home
The Murrell Home is a historic home and museum in Park Hill, Oklahoma that was built in 1845.
It is believed to have been constructed by African-American slaves brought to the area by the owners, and it is considered to be a symbol of the elite among the Cherokee Nation in the mid-19th century.
The home is now operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society as a museum and has been furnished to reflect life in the 1830s-1860s.
The museum also includes a log cabin, known as the Daniel Cabin, which is used for demonstrations of Cherokee life in the 1850s.
Additionally, the property features a 45-acre park with trails, making it a popular destination for history enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike
13. Cherokee Heritage Center
The Cherokee Heritage Center is a non-profit historical society and museum campus dedicated to preserving the history, culture, and traditions of the Cherokee people.
It includes several exhibits and facilities, including the 1710 Cherokee Village, Adams Corner Rural Village, the Trail of Tears exhibit, the Cherokee National Museum, and the Cherokee Family Research Center.
The center offers visitors the opportunity to learn about various aspects of Cherokee life, including traditional crafts, cultural practices, and daily activities, through interactive exhibits and demonstrations.
It’s a valuable resource for those interested in learning about the Cherokee people and their rich cultural heritage.
12. A.J. Seay Mansion
The Governor Seay Mansion, built in 1892, is the former home of the 2nd Territorial Governor and an important historical site in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
It is a testament to the history and heritage of the region and offers visitors a glimpse into the past. And, indeed, a visit to Kingfisher would not be complete without visiting the Pioneer Village, which includes several historic buildings, including log cabins, a one-room schoolhouse, a church, and the first bank building.
These buildings offer visitors an opportunity to learn about early pioneer life and the history of the region.
The Pioneer Village is a valuable resource for those interested in learning about the history and culture of Oklahoma and the American West.
11. Sequoyah’s Cabin
Historic Sequoyah’s Cabin was the home of the famous Cherokee Indian Sequoyah (also known as George Gist) from 1829 to 1844.
Sequoyah is renowned for creating a written language for the Cherokee Nation, and his cabin has been designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of his achievements.
Today, the cabin is maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society as a historic house museum, which is furnished to reflect how it may have appeared when Sequoyah lived there.
Visitors can learn about Sequoyah’s life and the history of the Cherokee Nation, as well as view exhibits and artifacts that reflect early Cherokee life.
The cabin itself is a one-room frontier structure made of carved logs with a stone chimney and fireplace, making it a unique and historically significant site.
Top 10 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
10. Fort Gibson Historic Site
Historic Fort Gibson Historic Site commemorates the history of the United States Army and the role of Fort Gibson in the development of the American West. The fort was established in 1824 by the U.S. Army as a military post to protect American settlers from Native American attacks and to serve as a base for military operations in the region.
The fort played a significant role in the American Indian Wars, and it was an important center of military activity during the relocation of Native American tribes in the 1830s and 1840s, known as the Trail of Tears.
The fort was also an important supply and communications hub during the Civil War and was used as a base for Union troops during their operations in Indian Territory.
After the Civil War, the fort was used as a base for military operations against the Plains Indians, and it served as a supply and communications hub for the U.S. Army in the region until its closure in 1894.
The Fort Gibson Historic Site was established in the 1930s and it includes a visitor center with exhibits and artifacts related to the history of the fort and the U.S. Army in the West. The site also includes a walking trail that takes visitors to the key areas of the fort and includes interpretive markers that provide information on the fort’s history and the people who lived and worked there.
9. Cherokee Heritage Center
The Cherokee Heritage Center is a non-profit historical society and museum campus located in Oklahoma that aims to preserve the historical and cultural artifacts, language and traditional crafts of the Cherokee people.
The center features several exhibits and structures, including the 1710 Cherokee Village, Adams Corner Rural Village, the Trail of Tears exhibit, the Cherokee National Museum and the Cherokee Family Research Center.
Visitors can walk through 14 stations that detail the historic landscape in 1710 and demonstrate a range of cultural practices such as stick ball, basket making, flintknapping and blow gun making.
The center is dedicated to educating visitors about the history and culture of the Cherokee Nation and preserving their heritage for future generations.
8. USS Batfish
The USS Batfish is a historic submarine located in Oklahoma. It served during World War II and is most notable for its impressive record of sinking 15 Japanese vessels, including 3 in just a little over 3 days, a feat that has never been accomplished again.
This earned it the title of “most successful killing submarine ever”.
In 1972, the Batfish was moved from Texas to Oklahoma and is now available for tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the history of this remarkable vessel.
Stepping inside the Batfish, fully aware of its history, can be a surreal experience. It is an opportunity to learn about the role of submarines in WWII and the sacrifices of the sailors who served on it.
7. Honey Springs Battlefield State Park
The Engagement at Honey Springs was a significant battle of the American Civil War that took place on July 17, 1863, in Indian Territory. It was the largest of more than 107 documented hostile encounters in Indian Territory, with approximately 9,000 men involved including American Indians, veteran Texas regiments, and the First Kansas Colored Volunteers, which was the first African American regiment in the Union army.
The battle was fought between the First Division Army of the Frontier, commanded by Major General James G. Blunt, and the Confederate Indian Brigade led by Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper. Cherokee and Creek regiments fought on both sides.
The Honey Springs Battlefield site, which includes more than 1,000 acres, is now open to visitors.
It offers walking trails with interpretive signs that take visitors through the Union bivouac area, Union line of battle, the Texas regiment line of battle, which includes 1/8-mile of the original Texas Road, the battle at the bridge over Elk Creek, the final action, and Honey Springs and the Confederate supply depot.
A Visitor Center features exhibits about the battle, through artifacts, graphics, and narrative, that tell the rich history of the Battle of Honey Springs. Visitors can enjoy hiking and area wildlife while exploring the history of the Civil War in Indian Territory.
6. Chisholm Trail Museum
The Chisholm Trail Museum that commemorates the history of the Chisholm Trail, which was a major cattle driving trail used in the late 19th century to transport cattle from Texas to markets in Kansas. The Chisholm Trail is named after Jesse Chisholm, a trader and rancher who established the trail in the mid-1860s.
During the 1870s and 1880s, the Chisholm Trail was the main route for cattle drives from Texas to Kansas and was used by thousands of cowboys to move millions of cattle to market.
The trail ran from the Texas-Oklahoma border, through Oklahoma and Kansas, and ended at the railheads in Abilene and Ellsworth, Kansas. The trail played a significant role in the development of the American West and in the growth of the cattle industry.
The Chisholm Trail Museum was established to commemorate this important part of American history and to educate visitors about the trail and its impact on the region.
The museum features exhibits and artifacts related to the Chisholm Trail, including interactive displays and a collection of photographs, maps, and other historical items. It also has a replica of a chuckwagon, used on the trail, a collection of cowboy gear and a blacksmith shop.
Top 5 Historic Sites In Oklahoma
5. Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center
Travel seven miles outside the eastern Oklahoma town of Spiro and you will find the remarkable Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center.
The park preserves the remains of an advanced prehistoric Native American civilization. Regarded by many archaeologists as one of the four most important prehistoric Indian sites east of the Rocky Mountains, Spiro was a center of culture during the Mississippian Era (A.D. 900 – A.D. 1540).
Things To See
Today, the center offers visitors the chance to learn about the site’s history through exhibits, trails, and special tours.
The center also hosts annual events and temporary exhibits to celebrate the site’s significance and bring the community together.
4. Guthrie Historic District
The Guthrie Historic District is a historic district located in Guthrie, Oklahoma. It represents the commercial core of the city and encompasses the downtown area.
The city of Guthrie was founded in 1889 and was the capital of Oklahoma Territory. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Guthrie became the first state capital until 1910, when the seat of government was moved to Oklahoma City.
A portion of the downtown Capitol Townsite Historic District is designated as a National Historic Landmark, recognizing the national importance of the downtown architecture. The listing in the National Register of Historic Places extends benefits and protections to 1,400 acres of the city.
Visitors can explore the historical architecture, buildings and streets of the district, including many well-preserved Victorian-era structures, and learn about the history of the city and its role as the first state capital of Oklahoma.
3. Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
On November 27, 1868, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer led his famed 7th US Cavalry on a surprise dawn attack on a Cheyenne village. In his military dispatches, Custer referred to it as the Battle of Washita.
The strike was hailed by the military as a significant victory aimed at reducing Indian raids on frontier settlements as it forced the Cheyenne back to the reservation set aside for them.
For a long time it was seen as a glorious victory for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer against Chief Black Kettle of the Cheyenne Nation. Instead of winning against Cheyenne soldiers, however, Custer and his troops reportedly massacred more than a hundred people, including Chief Black Kettle and his wife.
From the numbers of women and children who were senselessly slaughtered at the site, it has since been determined to have been not a battle, but a massacre.
The Dust & Fire Trail
Visitors can learn about this time in history at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Roger Mills County. There is a one and a half mile trail which is self guided with many brochure stops along the way.
There’s also a shorter Dust & Fire Trail. While walking it, you can learn about life on the prairie. Visitors can also explore flora, fauna, a dugout house, and a working windmill.
If you’ve never been there before then I would highly recommend starting your visit at the visitor center. It provides interactive and educational experiences including a 27-minute park film called Destiny at Dawn.
The film describes the engagement which happened on the site and the events leading up to it. There’s also a museum providing views of the Washita River Valley, which includes the Western National Parks Association Bookstore.
2. Santa Fe National Historic Trail
The Santa Fe National Historic Trail is a historic trail that stretches from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. It was established in the late 1700s as a trade route between American settlements in Missouri and Mexican settlements in Santa Fe.
The trail was used for decades by traders, settlers, and military personnel, who traveled through the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the deserts of the Southwest. The trail played a key role in the expansion of the American frontier and the development of the American West.
In 1987, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail was designated as a National Historic Trail by the U.S. government, and today it is preserved and managed as a recreational trail by the National Park Service.
Visitors can hike or drive parts of the trail, visit historic sites along the way, and learn about the history and cultural heritage of the American West.
There were two major routes. Some used the Mountain Route, which offered more dependable water, but required an arduous trip over Raton Pass.
Others took the Cimarron Route. It was shorter and faster, but required knowledge of where the route’s scarce water supplies were located. It you ran out of water then you weren’t likely to survive the journey.
Now here’s an interesting fact. During the Mexican-American War, the U.S. Army actually followed the Santa Fe Trail westward to successfully invade Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended this war in 1848.
Afterward, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the more settled parts of the United States to the new southwest territories.
The Santa Fe Trail Today
Today the Santa Fe National Historic Trail extends between western Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along the way, there are museums, historic sites, landmarks, and original trail segments located all along the length of this historic trail.
There’s a wonderful book filled with amazing stories about life on the legendary Santa Fe Trail. Written by David Dary, it’s titled The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore.
1. Oklahoma City National Memorial
The Oklahoma City National Memorial commemorates the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred on April 19, 1995. The bombing was carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people and injuring over 600 others.
The attack was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the United States before the 9/11 attacks, and it had a profound impact on the people of Oklahoma City and the nation as a whole.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial was established to honor the victims of the bombing and to provide a space for reflection and healing for the families and loved ones of those affected by the tragedy.
Outdoor Symbolic Memorial
The memorial includes the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, which features a reflecting pool, 168 empty chairs representing each victim and the Survivor Tree, a symbol of resilience and hope. The memorial also includes the Memorial Museum which features exhibits and artifacts related to the bombing and its aftermath.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a powerful and moving tribute to the victims of the bombing and serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of terrorism and the importance of healing and remembrance.
It is a popular destination for visitors and it is open to the public year-round. The Memorial also holds annual events such as the Survivor Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Marathon.
List Of Historic Sites In Oklahoma
- Oklahoma City National Memorial
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail
- Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
- Guthrie Historic District
- Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center
- Chisholm Trail Museum
- Honey Springs Battlefield State Park
- USS Batfish
- Cherokee Heritage Center
- Fort Gibson Historic Site
- Sequoyah’s Cabin
- A.J. Seay Mansion
- Cherokee Heritage Center
- George M. Murrell Home
- Price Tower
About the Folks Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for the More Than Just Parks website. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
To learn more about the difference between the various National Park Service designations check out our article that explains everything!
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