A visit to Oklahoma would not be complete without a trip to the Wichita
Mountains. These mountains have long been known by miners as rich in
minerals, and they have long looked forward to the time when they might
According to Spanish records Father Gilbert, with
one hundred men, led an expedition into the Wichita Mountains as early
as 1657, and sunk a shaft to the depth of one hundred feet about nine
miles northwest of Mount Scott. About the year 1738 another expedition
was lead to the mountains, and work was begun towards developing a mine
in Devil's canon. The members of the second expedition were mostly
Mexican peons. They were attacked by the Kiowas, who massacred all but
three of the party, who escaped to Mexico. There they made a map of the
mines, which was finally secured by a Mexican miner who returned to the
mountains many years later and unearthed the old mines, finding many
relics of the former possessors. Whether he found any of the treasure
ever discovered by the first party is not known, as he did not return to
the mountains from a second visit to Mexico.
The old mine is on
the North fork of the Red River, and is at the extreme northwest corner
of the range of mountains. It had long been called the Haunted canon by
the Indians, but is now known as Devil's canon.
expedition of which there is any record was formed at Jacksboro, Texas,
in 1852, and was lead by J. McElroth and McCall. They stated that they
found gold on Otter creek, near where Needman's smelter now stands.
While returning to Texas they were attacked by •the Indians on Cash
creek, and the whole party was massacred, except McCall and McElroth,
who made their escape down Cash creek by night.
the Wichita Mountains , I began at Roosevelt, near the northwest corner,
where I met R. W. Hail, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, whose present
address is Roosevelt, Oklahoma. He invited me to go out to his camp at
the Lone Jack mines. He is an old miner, and gave me great assistance in
writing up the history of the mountains. He and A. E. Andrus of Mangum,
Oklahoma, a wealthy farmer and in every was a perfect gentleman,
together with about a hundred others, organized a mining company on
Otter creek in 1900, and Andrus built the first storehouse in Kiowa
County. It was begun the night of August 6 and was completed the morning
of the next day. By evening Andrus was selling, goods there. It was
located in the little town of Wildman, the center of the mining
district. R. W. Rail first discovered the Gotebo oil fields in 1889.
Among the highest peaks in the Wichita Mountains is Baker's peak,
near the center of the range. During General Arbuckle's trip through the
mountains one of his scouts became separated from the army and was
attacked by Indians, who shot his horse from under him at the foot of
this peak. Baker, the scout, managed to make his way to the top of the
peak, which can be reached in only one direction, up a narrow defile.
The Indians tried in many ways to get at him, but every time a head
appeared above the rim rock the scout put a bullet through it with his
rifle. They tried to crowd up while his gun was empty, but there were
lots of rocks handy, and Baker used these so effectively that they were
unable to rush up on him.
Finally they sent up a shower of
arrows, but he sheltered himself behind some big rocks and was not
touched. At last, therefore, they settled down to starve Baker out. For
three days the siege continued. Meanwhile the army had gone on, camping
several miles south of the peak. When Baker failed to return the next
morning a searching party was sent out, which, however, failed to find
the missing man. For three days, however, the search was continued,
until, on the evening of the third day, as one of the officers was
standing on the top of a high hill, scanning the surrounding country
with a field glass, he noticed a puff of smoke from the top of the peak
which now bears Baker's name.
Immediately a rescue party was
sent to the peak, which found that Baker had been fighting against
seventy Indians. For three days he had not had a bite to eat nor a drop
Fort Sill was established on the southeast corner of
these mountains in 1869 by General Sheridan, General Custer being the
first commanding field officer. When Sheridan was in the country
establishing the fort his curiosity was aroused at the character of the
rock composing the mountains and at the stories told by the Indian
scouts, and he did some prospecting on a high mountain several miles
north of the fort. The mountain is still called Mount Sheridan.
There is some game in the mountains and the water is good. From every
point of view, the mountains are well worth a visit. It doesn't matter
how many mountains you may have seen elsewhere, if you have not seen the
Wichita Mountains, you still have something to see.
History of Oklahoma, Indian
Territory and Homeseeker's Guide
Source: History of Oklahoma and Indian Territory and Homeseeker's
guide, By J. L. and Ellen Puckett, Vinita, Oklahoma, Chieftain
Publishing Company, 1906