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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Kiowa is located in Pittsburg County on U.S. Highway 69 at its intersection with State Highway 63. The town was founded in 1872 when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, known as the "Katy," was extended southward from McAlester, Indian Territory, to Denison, Texas. The railroad workers set up camp on the present Kiowa townsite, later called the Kiowa switch. The name refers to the nearby Kiowa Hills, and honor the Kiowa Indians. The site was originally on the Texas Road that led from Texas to Missouri. Early in the town's existence, pens near the track served as a cattle-shipping point to northern cities.

Kiowa's post office was established May 6, 1881. Before statehood, the site was located in Atoka County, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Pittsburg County was not created until after Oklahoma's statehood in 1907. Kiowa has been a large farm and ranch trading area, with ranching being prevalent at the end of the twentieth century. In 1882 the first recorded general mercantile store opened. In 1909 there were two banks, two planing mills, two cotton gins, two gristmills, and one newspaper, the Kiowa Chronicle. Two other newspaper titles existed, the Kiowa Breeze and the Kiowa Sentinel. The Chronicle ended in the 1960s. In 1920 the U.S. Census recorded Kiowa's largest population, 1,287, which dropped to 689 in 1930. In 1950 the populace registered 802 and 866 in 1980. In September 1958 the Kiowa train depot closed.

The Kiowa Schools encompass students from outlying areas. Singer and actress Reba McEntire is the school's most renowned graduate. Confederate Brig. Gen. Edward L. Thomas is buried in the Kiowa Cemetery. The area has several churches. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the community had one downtown grocery store and three quick-stop service stations on Highway 69. In 2000 the population stood at 693. In 2003 a large power plant began operation two miles south of town. The 2010 census recorded 731 living in Kiowa. The April 2020 census reported 598.

Bennie Coffey Loftin

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Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (McAlester, Okla.: Pittsburg County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1997).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Bennie Coffey Loftin, “Kiowa (town),” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=KI018.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated March 25, 2024

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