Woodward, Oklahoma

Woodward, Oklahoma

Woodward, Oklahoma
Main Street, c. 1910
Main Street, c. 1910
Motto: "Energy For Life"
Location of Woodward, Oklahoma
Location of Woodward, Oklahoma
Woodward, Oklahoma is located in USA
Woodward, Oklahoma
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Woodward
 • Total 13.2 sq mi (34.2 km2)
 • Land 13.1 sq mi (34.0 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 1,909 ft (582 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,051
 • Density 910/sq mi (350/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 73801-73802
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-82150 [1]
GNIS feature ID 1100006 [2]
Website cityofwoodward.com

Woodward is a city in and the county seat of Woodward County, Oklahoma, United States.[3] It is the largest city in a nine-county area.[4] The population was 12,051 at the 2010 census.

The area was historically occupied by the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.[4] European-American settlers established the town in 1887 after construction of the railroad to that point for shipping cattle to markets. The town was on the Great Western Cattle Trail. In the 19th century, it was one of the most important depots in the Oklahoma Territory for shipping cattle to the East. As an important cattle town, it had the rough frontier bawdiness of the time.[5] The United States opened up much of the area to European-American settlement by the Land Run of 1893 and migrants rushed into the area.

Boiling Springs State Park, named for its artesian springs that seem to boil, has been established east of the city. After statehood, in 1911 Woodward was established as a court town for the US District Court of western Oklahoma. Annual federal dockets were held annually in November through 1948, and sporadically by need after that.


  • History 1
    • Native American settlement 1.1
    • Settlement by European-Americans 1.2
    • Tornadoes 1.3
      • 1947 1.3.1
      • 2012 1.3.2
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
    • Agriculture 4.1
    • Businesses 4.2
  • Education 5
  • Media 6
  • Visitors 7
  • Notable natives and residents 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


Native American settlement

Cabinet Saloon (located behind tree in center of photograph), Main Street, c. 1911

For thousands of years, succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples inhabited the areas along the North Canadian River. The Plains tribes adopted use of the horse from the Spanish settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, which greatly increased their range of nomadic hunting. Before the American Civil War, the historic Plains tribes of the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho occupied this area.[4]

Boiling Springs, near present-day Woodward, was a favorite campsite of the Plains Indians. A battle between the Kiowa and Cheyenne tribes took place nearby in 1838.[4] The Kiowa and Comanche tribes also battled the United States Army in 1868 in this area, when the US redeployed troops after the Civil War against Native Americans in the West.[6]

Settlement by European-Americans

In the later 19th century, a wide area around the springs became the site of numerous battles between these tribes and the United States soldiers and settlers trying to push them out. After the war, US Army made various expeditions against the Plains tribes in Woodward County. These were led by the lieutenant colonels Philip Sheridan, who were stationed nearby at Fort Supply. In the 1880s, the Comanche considered this area as part of their "Comancheria", the unofficial name of their territory, which stretched from Kansas to Mexico.[6]

After construction of the railroad to the area, in 1887 European-American settlers established Woodward at the junction of the Fort Reno Military Road and the Southern Kansas Railway (a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) on the south bank of the North Canadian River.[5] The town soon became an important shipping point, both for provisioning Fort Supply and as a place for loading cattle grazed in the Cherokee Outlet for shipment to eastern markets. In the late 19th century before statehood, Woodward was one of the most important depots in the Oklahoma Territory for shipping cattle to the East and Northern tier of states. The Great Western Cattle Trail crossed where Woodward was developed.

On September 16, 1893, more than 50,000 migrants settled across the old Cherokee Outlet of northern Oklahoma in the greatest land run in American history. They founded cities that day from Woodward to Enid and Ponca City. In the summer of 1893, carpenters erected the first government building at the railroad depot called Woodward. By that time, Woodward had approximately 200 residents. Since territorial days, Woodward has served as the county seat of Woodward County.

Old Woodward Post Office and Federal Courthouse

Like Dodge City, Kansas to the North, Woodward boasted a cattle town array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels. Woodward's Equity, Midway, Shamrock, and Cabinet saloons, and the Dew Drop Inn, were widely known as watering holes for drovers at the end of a cattle drive. The latter, which also served as a brothel, was owned and managed by Dollie Kezer. Before coming to Woodward, she had worked at some of Denver, Colorado's most famous brothels and was known to have attended lavish parties thrown by Horace Tabor.

In 1894, Temple Lea Houston, the youngest son of the Texas revolutionary and president Samuel Houston, moved his law practice and family to Woodward. After a personal disagreement in the Cabinet Saloon with the brother and father of the outlaw Al Jennings, Houston shot and killed the brother. Houston's close friend Jack E. Love joined him in the gun-fight. The events did not slow their careers. Houston was charged and tried for murder in Woodward, but he was acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Love was later elected to the office of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and served as its first chairman.

Houston won a reputation as a brilliant trial lawyer known for his courtroom dramatics. He delivered his "Soiled Dove Plea" in a makeshift courtroom in Woodward's opera house. His argument on behalf of a prostitute who worked at the Dew Drop Inn became famous and resulted in her acquittal by the jury after ten minutes' consideration.

On September 7, 1907, William Jennings Bryan spoke to 20,000 people gathered in Woodward, urging the ratification of Oklahoma's proposed state constitution and the election of a Democratic Party ticket. Two months later the proclamation admitting Oklahoma as a state was signed by Theodore Roosevelt with the quill from an American golden eagle captured near Woodward.

By a 1911 Act of Congress, Woodward became a designated court town for the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. A United States Post Office and Courthouse was constructed in Woodward in 1918. Federal court dockets were held annually each November in Woodward until 1948, and sporadically thereafter.



On April 9, 1947, the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma history tore through Woodward, killing 107 people and destroying 100 city blocks. The family of tornadoes, known as the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, ranked as the sixth deadliest in US history. They caused many fatalities and much damage in other communities in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.


On April 14, 2012, an EF-3 tornado struck Woodward causing six deaths.[7][8]


Woodward is located in northwestern Oklahoma, on the eastern edge of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.[4] Its geographic coordinates are (36.433059, -99.397745)[9] and its elevation is 1,906 feet (581 meters).

The city lies on the North Canadian River, 100 miles (160 km) east-southeast of Guymon, Oklahoma and 85 miles (137 km) west of Enid, Oklahoma. As the largest city in an area of nine counties, it is a commercial hub in northwestern Oklahoma.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.2 square miles (34 km2), of which 13.1 square miles (34 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.53%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 11,853 people, 4,787 households, and 3,245 families residing in the city. The population density was 903.5 inhabitants per square mile (348.8/km²). There were 5,561 housing units at an average density of 423.9 per square mile (163.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.98% White, 0.25% African American, 1.96% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.26% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.06% of the population.

There were 4,787 households out of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,441, and the median income for a family was $39,766. Males had a median income of $29,222 versus $19,102 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,040. About 9.2% of families and 13.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.


Woodward is the principal center of trade for Northwest Oklahoma and a ten-county region including counties in Kansas and Texas. It serves a trade area of greater than 50,000 people. Agriculture, petroleum, wind energy, and manufacturing all contribute to Woodward's economy.

Woodward serves as a market and processing center for wheat, cattle, hay and poultry. The city has grown around the Southern Plains Range Research Station, a United States agricultural experiment station established in 1912.

Woodward also lies in an oil and natural-gas area on the shelf of Oklahoma's Anadarko Basin. In 1956, natural gas was discovered in Woodward County. Thereafter, Woodward enjoyed significant growth due to the opening and location of oil field service and drilling companies in Woodward.

In addition to hydrocarbons, many portions of Woodward County are underlain by one of the world's largest deposits of iodine. Since 1977, numerous companies have explored for and produced crude iodine in Woodward County. Woodward Iodine and Deepwater Chemicals are located in Woodward. In 2003, Florida Power & Light Company's subsidiary, FPL Energy, and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, began commercial production of electricity generated from wind turbines constructed seven miles (11 km) north of Woodward.

Manufacturers include oil field equipment, apparel, crude iodine, and printing and publishing. Clothing factories are a relatively recent addition.

The Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum attracts tourists to the city. Boiling Springs State Park[12] lies to the east of Woodward.

Woodward is the corporate headquarters for Beaver Express Service, L.L.C., Oklahoma's largest and oldest Oklahoma-based small package express and LTL motor freight carrier. Beaver Express serves the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas.


By the early 20th century, Hereford cattle were introduced successfully in Woodward County. With this development, cattlemen such as Dan Waggoner and his son, W.T. Waggoner, attempted to lease school lands in Woodward County for grazing. These attempts led to the formation of the Oklahoma Livestock Association by Woodward County ranchers. At the urging of Senator Thomas P. Gore and David P. Marum, the former law partner of Temple Lea Houston, in 1912 the United States government located an agricultural research station in Woodward.[13] By 1930, the ranching and cattle industry dominated Woodward's economy. On February 23, 1933, Oklahoma's first commercial-grade cattle auction, the Woodward Livestock Auction, opened in Woodward.

In 1929, Woodward ranchers and businessmen organized the Woodward Elks Rodeo, which through 1959 was one of the premier cowboy rodeos in the nation. As many as 35,000 people would attend the three-day event. National rodeo champions such as Bob Crosby, Paul Carney, Toots Mansfield, Homer Pettigrew, Ace Soward, Eddie Curtis, Jess Goodspeed, Ike Rude, Jim Shoulder, Sonny Davis, Sonny Linger, and Tater Decker all competed at the Woodward Elks Rodeo.


Between 1934 and 1999, the Trego’s Westwear Company of Woodward manufactured Western cut clothing for customers all over the world. Rodeo and movie stars were customers of the company and costumes were frequently made for Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. As dress became more casual in the 1980s and 1990s, interest in Western wear waned. Trego’s closed its manufacturing plant in 1995.

On May 18, 1956, Charles Woodward Pappe, an entrepreneur from Kingfisher, opened the second Top-Hat Drive-In Restaurant in the United States, which was the precursor to the Sonic Drive-In. A few months earlier, Pappe had met Troy Smith, while visiting friends in Shawnee, Oklahoma. With Pappe's inspiration, Sonic was founded and eventually became one of the largest chain of fast food restaurants in the US.


Woodward has an early childhood center, three elementary schools, one middle schools, and one high school.[14] The Woodward school district serves more than 2,500 students.[14] The city also has a private school, the Woodward Christian Academy, that serves more than 100 students.[15]

The city's High Plains Technology Center offers courses and degrees in career and technical education. Woodward is also home to the Woodward campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University, which offers courses and degrees to the local population.

The City of Woodward-owned Woodward Public Library has seen a recent complete remodel under management of Head Librarian Connie Terry. It is a fairly large facility for a city of 12,000 population and has a complete computer internet center.


The Woodward News has been the local news source since 1926. It is currently distributed five days a week and owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.,[16] It is distributed freely to the town's residents.

KWOX 101.1 (K101) Country; has been serving Woodward since December 1983.

KMZE Z92 92.1 News/Talk; owned by FM92 Broadcasters

KWFX 100.1 Country; Owned by Classic Communications

KWDQ 102.3 (Q102) Alternative Rock; Owned by Classic Communications

KSIW AM 1450 "Sports Animal" Sports Talk; has been serving Woodward way back into the 1950s

KAZY 95.9 - NPR Public Radio; owned by Cameron University in Lawton

KJOV 90.7 - Simulcast of KJIL 99.1 (Meade, Kansas) (Christian Radio)

KZZW 104.5 - "104.5 KZZW" Top 40

KLSI 107.3 - Classic Hits Owned by Classic Commmincations

Translators: 89.9 Simulcast from KHYM (Meade, Kansas) "Southern Gospel" 97.1 KREJ 100.7 Medicine Lodge, Kansas (Christian Talk/Teaching)


On March 13, 1894, outlaws Bill Doolin and Bill Dalton robbed the railroad station at Woodward, taking an undisclosed amount of money.

On September 13, 1934, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh made an unexpected emergency landing 23 miles (37 km) northeast of Woodward. The Lindberghs spent two days at a rural farm waiting for a relief plane to arrive at Woodward. Charles Lindbergh refused to give any interviews, saying he and his wife were eager for privacy and no longer wanted to be in the public spotlight.

On January 14, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower, who was accompanied by Ezra Taft Benson, made a 12-mile (19 km) inspection tour of drought-damaged lands around Woodward. He was received by a crowd of 12,000 people at the Woodward Municipal Airport.

In 1982 the popular national comedian Flip Wilson unexpectedly landed his helium balloon seven miles (11 km) east of Woodward in the town of Mooreland, attracting media and local attention.

On July 3 and 4, 2009, former President Independence Day itself. It was the first time any President of the United States, past or present, had entered Woodward proper.[17]

Notable natives and residents

  • Jerry Covington, a renowned fabricator of high-end custom motorcycles, and owner of Covingtons Cycle City,[18] based in Woodward.
  • Bob Fenimore, football player.
  • Temple Lea Houston, last-born child of Sam Houston, a member of the Texas State Senate from 1885 to 1889, and a famous trial lawyer, moved to Woodward in 1894 and died there in 1905 at the age of forty-five. The 1963-1964 NBC television series, Temple Houston was loosely based on his life story.[19]
  • Dick Thompson Morgan, United States Congressman, 2nd District, Oklahoma 1909-15, 8th District, Oklahoma 1915-20.
  • Terry Peach, farmer, rancher, Secretary and Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture (2003-2011), Oklahoma State Executive Director, United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (1993–2000)
  • Will Rogers, prominent comedian, was employed when young as a cowboy at a ranch near Woodward.
  • Charles Swindall, United States Congressman, Oklahoma; Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, 1929-1934.
  • Olin E. Teague, military hero and long-term Texas Congressman, was born in Woodward on April 6, 1910.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Architectural survey of Woodward, p. 123, Oklahoma Historical Society (accessed June 9, 2010).
  5. ^ a b James, Louise Boyd. "Woodward," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed February 27, 2015).
  6. ^ a b Architectural survey of Woodward, p. 124
  7. ^ Olafson, Steve (15 April 2012). "Three girls among Oklahoma tornado dead; clean-up underway". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  8. ^ Olafson, Steve (16 April 2012). "Death toll from Oklahoma tornado rises to six". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Oklahoma State Parks". TravelOK.com - Oklahoma's Official Travel & Tourism Site. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  13. ^ "Rangeland and Pasture Research : About Us". Ars.usda.gov. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  14. ^ a b Woodward School District, Education.com (accessed June 9, 2010).
  15. ^ Woodward Christian Academy, Education.com (accessed June 9, 2010).
  16. ^ "The Woodward News Home Page". The Woodward news. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  17. ^ Ricks, Rowyn (11 May 2009). "Bush to celebrate Fourth in Woodward". The Enid News and Eagle (Enid, OK). CHNI News Service. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  18. ^ "Covingtons Cycle City". Covingtons Cycle City. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  19. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 106-109

Further reading

  • Below Devil's Gap: The Story of Woodward County, James, Louise B. (1984)
  • Fort Supply, Indian Territory: Frontier Outpost on the Plains, Carriker, Robert C. (1970, repr. 1990)
  • Jack Love: Eighty Niner, Adams, Grace Hunter (1988)
  • Temple Houston, Lawyer with a Gun, Shirley, Glenn (1980)
  • Sand in My Eyes, Laune, Siegniora Russell (1956)

External links

  • City of Woodward
  • Woodward Information, Lodging, Tourism Bureau
  • Woodward Chamber of Commerce
  • 1947 Woodward Tornado (NWS)
  • Woodward Industrial Foundation
  • Plains, Indians, and Pioneers Museum