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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Salina is located nine miles east of Pryor at the intersection of State Highways 20 and 82 on the east bank of Lake Hudson (Grand River) in Mayes County. As early as 1817 a license was issued to Auguste P. Chouteau and Joseph Revoir permitting them to locate a trading post approximately at present Salina. Revoir operated this post until his death on June 24, 1821, when he was killed by a party of Cherokees. During the fall of 1822 Col. A. P. Chouteau moved from St. Louis with a group of Missouri Osage known as White Hair's Band and took control of the post. He built a double log house, which he called "La Saline," and resided in the area with his Osage family until his death on December 25, 1838.

The name Salina derives from a salt works in the vicinity. From 1830 to 1843 Capt. John Rogers, a proponent of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, operated the salt works before he was dispossessed by the Cherokee Council. At that time his business consisted of 150 salt kettles, furnaces, and five hundred feet of pipe. Sale of salt was thus Salina's second commercial industry. The first Salina post office was established at Grand Saline salt works, Indian Territory, on February 23, 1849, and was discontinued on August 24, 1866.

Lewis Ross, brother of Chief John Ross, leased the salt works, paying the Cherokee Nation sixteen hundred dollars annually for ten years. He built a pretentious, two-story, brick plantation home at this site, planted a large orchard, gardens, and cotton field, and erected a cotton gin, a gristmill, and many farm buildings. Ravaged during the Civil War, the house was sold to the Cherokee Nation to be used as the Cherokee Orphan's Asylum in 1872. A post office was established for the orphanage on January 10, 1876. The orphanage burned November 17, 1903, and the younger children were transferred to the Whitaker Orphanage at Pryor. The Cherokee Orphan Asylum Springhouse survives and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 83002092). In 1898 Salina had an estimated population of two hundred.

Salina emerged as the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MO&G, after 1919 the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway) was building tracks southeast through Mayes County to Wagoner. When the town of Salina was surveyed in December 4, 1912, its estimated 563 residents patronized two general stores, a post office, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, a dry goods shop, schools, churches, and a ferry. S. H. Mayes built and operated the ferry, which crossed Grand River and docked at Salina's Ferry Street. In 1916 the town's first bridge supplanted the ferry. The 1920 census officially recorded 411 inhabitants. Newspapers published in Salina from 1910 to 1930 included the Herald, the News, the News-Herald, and the Grand Valley Times.

Serving as a shipping and retail point, Salina grew every decade thereafter, reaching 687 in 1940. Although rail service ended, the town grew to 972 in 1960 and to 1,115 in 1980. The census counted 1,422 citizens at the end of the twentieth century. There were twelve Protestant churches, the Salina Telephone Company, a kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade school system, a bank, food stores, a fire department, three convenience stores, a post office, and several caf├ęs. In 2000 the largest employers were the Cherokee Nation Health Clinic and Park Hill Nursing Home. The Chouteau Memorial Museum has focused on the area's fur trade history. Residents have annually celebrated Chouteau Day each on October 10 in honor of Col. A. P. Chouteau. Lake Hudson remains a favorite destination for fishing enthusiasts. In 2010 there were 1,396 residents.

Betty Lou Harper Thomas


Historical Highlights of Mayes County (Pryor, Okla.: Mayes County Historical Society, 1977).

George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Betty Lou Harper Thomas, “Salina,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SA008.

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