Railroads Make Their Mark

In 1882, the Frisco Railroad extended a line from Vinita to the Arkansas River in the Creek Nation. Thus began a new influx of the white man onto Indian land.

Upon completion of the railroad in 1882, H.C. Hall, one of the contractors, and his brother J.M. Hall opened a railroad company store near the tracks. As the first while settlers to set up shop, the Halls are credited with the founding of Tulsa.

The coming of the railroad, including the bridging of the Arkansas River in 1883, brought Tulsa to prominence as a “cow town”, as ranchers from across the territory brought their herds to local stockyards for shipment to the hungry Northeast. The railroad’s importance to the city’s development can still be seen—Tulsa’s downtown streets are aligned parallel and perpendicular to the railroad tracks.

Downtown Tulsa,looking north on Main Street from 2nd Street, c. 1898

The Dawes Commission of 1898 established a system for legal ownership of land by Native Americans. Allotments were assigned to Native Americans who could verify their ancestry. The census taken at this time continues to influence the policies of Native American tribes today.

Tulsa was incorporated as a town January 18, 1898 and Col. Edward Calkins was elected first mayor.