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Oklahoma Journeys

US Marshal Sent to Pond Creek, 1894

2010-06-19

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From the Oklahoma History Center, this is Oklahoma Journeys. I’m Michael Dean.

Before the Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement in 1893, the railroad already ran through the region for seven years and had set up a number of water and fuel stops. When the land was surveyed for the opening, the government ignored the railroad stops and set up separate areas for town development; therefore, on the day of the run, participants didn’t know which town they should go for. At the end of the opening day there were at least four confused towns in existence. Pond Creek Station, the railroad town, and three miles south Pond Creek, the government town; North Enid, the railroad town, and three miles south, South Enid, the government town.

The railroad claimed that it already had depots set up and had been using its stops for almost seven years now so why should they have to change because the government chose to set up towns elsewhere? The railroad ordered its trains not to stop in the government towns, and the engines thundered through the middle of these places at top speed. When trains respected speed limits and ran slowly through the towns, residents attempted to grab and pull the crewmen off the train. In other cases warning shots were fired at, over and through the various train cars.

Despite the fact that the government towns were obviously the popular, growing towns, the railroad wouldn’t stop. Efforts to force the trains to stop in Enid and Pond Creek resulted in the appearance of U.S. Marshals in the area to investigate. It was in this week of 1894 that at least one U.S. Marshall arrived on the scene and began questioning locals.

While the people claimed that they were being deprived of rail service, the railroad accused the locals of disrupting shipments. In a one-month period, in an attempt to force the trains to stop in their towns, the residents of Pond Creek and Enid placed on the tracks, a wagon, a stuffed dummy complete with hat, explosives, and at one point, a small house. In all cases the trains smashed through the obstacles sending many pieces, according to the local press, to reside in the heavens. Pond Creek resorted to tearing out one hundred yards of track and derailing an entire freight train, and in Enid residents in desperation partially sawed through a trestle. Such actions brought the attention of the Federal Government to the area and the visit of the U.S. Marshals in June of 1894 resulted in the intervention of the U.S. Army.

By the end of 1894 the railroad had given up on their two town sites and agreed to furnish service to Enid and Pond Creek. Happy now with mail and freight service, citizens all along the line celebrated the beginning of a new peace and the end of the railroad war. The story of transportation weaves through the history of our state and is a major exhibit in one of the galleries at the Oklahoma History Center, NE 23rd Street in Oklahoma City just east of the State Capitol. Oklahoma Journeys is a production of the Oklahoma History Center, dedicated to the collection, preservation, and sharing of our state’s past. I’m Michael Dean.