Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Foraker

FORAKER.

An incorporated community in rural Osage County, Foraker is situated along County Road N3610, thirteen miles north and twelve miles west of Pawhuska. Established in 1906, Foraker flourished before 1930. It recorded a population of twenty-three in 2000 but dropped to 19 in 2010. Actor Ben Johnson was a Foraker native, and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is located southeast of town.

Named in honor of Ohio's Sen. James B. Foraker, the town began as a 160-acre tract along the Midland Valley Railroad in 1905. Reserved prior to the allotment of the Osage Nation (present Osage County) the land was platted under the direction of the Department of the Interior. Each surveyed lot was auctioned in May 1906 and, unlike elsewhere in the Osage Nation, buyers retained their property's mineral rights.

Foraker quickly became known for its agriculture. Principal commodities included corn, alfalfa, and wheat. More importantly, the area was ideal for cattle ranching. Fifteen thousand cattle were shipped from Foraker during one six-month period. After a brief decline the town was renewed by the discovery of the Burbank oil field in 1920.  By that year the population was 394. Because it lay on the Midland Valley Railroad, Foraker became a petroleum industry supply and equipment center. The Osage Railway was extended ten miles southwestward from Foraker to Shidler in 1922. During the first half of 1922, a year in which the Foraker vicinity had ninety-four productive oil and natural gas wells, local businesses earned $169,000 in lumber, oil-field supply, and other sales.

During its heyday Foraker had concrete sidewalks, a water system, two banks, hardware, mercantile, and grocery stores, lumberyards, livery stables, grain elevators, two churches, a school, and various fraternal orders. Three newspapers, the Foraker Tribune, the Foraker Free Press, and the Foraker Sun, were published there.

Foraker's largest recorded population was 415 in 1910. That number dropped steadily after 1930 (population 310) as the town diminished with the Osage oil boom during the Great Depression. The Osage Railway and the Midland Valley Railroad routes were abandoned in 1953 and 1968 respectively, and Foraker's business district fell vacant. The population was 52 in 1970. Present employment requires an out-of-town commute, and the nearest post office is located at Shidler.

Jon D. May

See also: OIL-FIELD CULTURE, PETROLEUM INDUSTRY, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS, TALLGRASS PRAIRIE PRESERVE

Bibliography

"Foraker," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989).

John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977).

Osage County Profiles (Pawhuska, Okla.: Osage County Historical Society, 1978).

Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photograph Archives (unless otherwise stated).


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jon D. May, "Foraker," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed November 22, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia