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Main Street, Woodward, Oklahoma, circa 1910
Woodward is a city in and the county seat of Woodward Countymarker, Oklahomamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 11,853 at the 2000 census.


Woodward is located at (36.433059, -99.397745) , elevation 1,906 feet (581 meters).

The city lies on the North Canadian River, 100 miles (161 kilometers) east-southeast of Guymon, Oklahomamarker and 85 miles (137 kilometers) west of Enid, Oklahomamarker.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 34.2 km² (13.2 mi²). 34.0 km² (13.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.53%) is water.

Before the American Civil War, Woodward and its surrounding area was inhabited by the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Plains tribes. Boiling Springs, near present day Woodward, was a favorite campsite of the Plains Indians. A wide area around the springs later became the scene of numerous battles between these tribes and the white man. After the war, various military expeditions were led against the Plains tribes in Woodward County by Lieutenant Colonels Alfred Sully and George Armstrong Custer, and General Philip Sheridan, who were stationed near Woodward at Fort Supplymarker.


Woodward was established in 1887 at the junction of the Fort Renomarker 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. It soon became an important shipping point, both for provisioning Fort Supplymarker and as a place for loading cattle grazed in the Cherokee Outlet. Before statehood, Woodward was one of the most extensive cattle shipping points in Oklahoma Territory. The Great Western Cattle Trail crossed where Woodward now stands.

More than fifty thousand individuals and families settled across the old Cherokee Outlet of northern Oklahoma on September 16, 1893 in the greatest land run in American history. The settlers founded cities that day from Woodward all the way to Enid, Oklahomamarker and Ponca City, Oklahomamarker. 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 before statehood, Woodward has served as the county seat of Woodward County, Oklahoma.

Woodward, like Dodge City, Kansasmarker to the North, boasted the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels. Woodward's Equity, Midway, Shamrock, and Cabinet saloons, and 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, who before her arrival in Woodward, worked at some of Denver, Coloradomarker's most famous brothels and was known to have attended lavish parties thrown by Horace Tabor.

In its early years, Woodward was home to Temple Lea Houston, the son of Texas revolutionary Samuel Houston, and Jack E. Love. It was in Woodward's Cabinet Saloon that Houston, a gun-slinging lawyer, shot the brother of the outlaw Al Jennings after a personal disagreement with Jennings' brother and father.
His close friend, Jack E. Love, joined Houston in the gun-fight. Houston was tried for murder in Woodward but 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, who won a reputation as a brilliant trial lawyer known for his courtroom dramatics, delivered his famous Soiled Dove Plea in a makeshift courtroom in Woodward's opera house. The argument, made on behalf of a prostitute who worked at the Dew Drop Inn, resulted in her acquittal after ten minutes. Houston served as the inspiration for the character Yancey Cravat in Edna Ferber's book Cimarron, and the booming frontier town described in the book is easily recognized as the town in which Houston lived: Woodward. Houston is buried in Woodward's Elmwood Cemetery.

On September 7, 1907, William Jennings Bryan spoke to 20,000 people gathered in Woodward and urged the ratification of Oklahoma's proposed constitution and the election of a democratic 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
Old Woodward Post Office and Federal Courthouse, Woodward, Oklahoma
was constructed in Woodward in 1918, and federal court dockets were held each November in Woodward until 1948 and sporadically thereafter.


By the early 1900s, the introduction of Hereford cattle took root in Woodward County. With this development, cattlemen such as Dan Waggoner[19651] 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. By 1930, the ranching and cattle industry dominated Woodward's economy. At the urging of Senator Thomas P. Gore and the former law partner of Temple Houston, David P. Marum, the United States government located an agricultural research station in Woodward in 1912.[19652] 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.


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

On September 13, 1934, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh made an unexpected emergency landing 23 miles northeast of Woodward. The Lindberghs spent two days at a rural farm waiting for a relief plane to arrive at Woodward. Charles Lindbergh graciously refused to give any interviews, saying he and his wife were eager for privacy and no longer wanted to be in the public spotlight. Forty-eight years later another celebrity, Flip Wilson, unexpectedly landed his helium balloon seven miles east of Woodward in the town of Mooreland.

On January 14, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower, who was accompanied by Ezra Taft Benson, made a 12 mile inspection tour of drought damaged lands around Woodward and was received by a crowd of 12,000 people at the Woodward Municipal Airportmarker.

On July 3 and [[July 4|4], 2009, former President George W. Bush was involved in Fourth of July festivities and gave a speech at Crystal Beach Park on Independence Day itself. It was the first time any President of the United States, past or present, had entered Woodward proper [19653].


On April 9, 1947, the deadliest tornado in Oklahomamarker history tore through Woodward, killing 107 people and destroying 100 city blocks. The family of storms, known as the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes, ranked as the sixth deadliest in US history, having caused many fatalities and much damage in other communities in Texasmarker, Oklahoma, and Kansasmarker.[19654]


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 introduced himself to Troy Smith, while visiting friends in Shawnee, Oklahomamarker. With Pappe's inspiration, Sonic was founded and eventually became one of the largest chain of fast food restaurants in the US.

Famous residents

  • Olin E. Teague, military hero and long-term Texas Congressman was born in Woodward, Oklahoma on April 6, 1910.
  • Will Rogers was employed as a cowboy at a ranch near Woodward. Day, Donald. Will Rogers, (1962), 28
  • Charles E. Jones,[19655] buffalo hunter, merchant, Indian trader, teamster, and rancher, spent his declining years in Woodward, Oklahoma, and died there on June 3, 1935.
  • Dick Thompson Morgan,[19656] United States Congressman, 2nd District, Oklahoma 1909-15, 8th District, Oklahoma 1915-20.
  • Robert J. Ray, resided in Woodward, 1893-1901, Registrar United States Land Office, Woodward, Woodward County Attorney, Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahomamarker, 1923-1927.
  • Charles Swindall,[19657]; United States Congressman, Oklahoma; Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahomamarker, 1929-1934.
  • Philip Colgan Ferguson[19658], United States Congressman, 8th District, State of Oklahoma, 1935-1941.
  • Lyle Gaston, songwriter and native of Woodward. Songwriter for Hank Thompson[19659] and the Brazos Valley Boys. Author of "Blackboard of My Heart", "Mr. and Mrs. Snowman", "How Do You hold a Memory?", "Two Hearts Deep in the Blues", "My Old Flame", and "You'll Be the One" performed by Hank Thompson. Author of "Stockings and Shoes" performed by Eddie Cochran.
  • Terry "Buffalo" Ware,[19660] guitarist and songwriter originally from Woodward. Long-time guitarist for Ray Wylie Hubbard. Guitarist for Jimmy LaFave from 1997-2000. Co-author, with Hubbard, of "Here Comes The Night" and "Love In Vain".
  • Bob Fenimore,[19661] football player and native of Woodward. Oklahoma A&M now Oklahoma State Universitymarker’s first two-time All American football player. Following college, Fenimore was a first draft choice[19662] of the Chicago Bears. Fenimore is a member of the Oklahoma Football Hall of Fame, the Big 8 Football Hall of Fame, and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. He played on the winning 1945 Cotton Bowl and 1946 Sugar Bowl teams. He received his B.S. degree from Oklahoma A&M in 1947.
  • Ace Soward, Nationally known rodeo cowboy, circa 1930's.
  • Monte Reger, Rodeo promoter in Southwest United States, horse breeder, father of Buddy Reger, Virginia Reger Morton and Dixie Reger Mosley
  • Virginia Reger Morton, Rodeo trick rider and roper
  • Dixie Reger Mosley is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Bobby Joe Cudd, Oilfield firefighter. Founder of Cudd Pressure Control, Inc.[19663] and Bobcat Pressure Control. Cudd Pressure Control was one of two companies retained by the government of Kuwait to control the massive oil field fires left in the wake of the Gulf War.
  • Paul Laune, American author and Western illustrator.
  • Bestselling novelist D. Mikels, author of Dawn of the Transcendence, Walk-On, and The Reckoning, resides in Woodward.
  • Covingtons Cycle City,[19664] owned by Jerry Covington a renowned fabricator of high-end custom motorcycles that are frequently featured on television and in cycle magazines, is based in Woodward.
  • Terry Peach, farmer, rancher, Secretary and Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture (2003-present), Oklahoma State Executive Director, United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (1993-2000)
  • Woodward Public School's Mascot is the "Boomer," named for a group of settlers led by Colonel David L. Payne that came into Oklahoma in 1884. Their efforts led to the opening of the Unassigned Lands in 1889. It is the only public school to use this name.


As of the census of 2000, there were 11,853 people, 4,787 households, and 3,245 families residing in the city. The population density was 348.8/km² (903.5/mi²). There were 5,561 housing units at an average density of 163.7/km² (423.9/mi²). 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's High Plains Technology Center offers courses and degrees in career and technical education.


Woodward is home to the Woodward campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State Universitymarker, which offers courses and degrees to the local population.[19665]

Newspapers and media

The Woodward News, local newspaper since 1926.


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[19666], 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 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[19667] attracts tourists to the city. Boiling Springs State Parkmarker[19668]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.


Further reading

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

External links

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