During the latter part of the year 1904, Captain Ira L. Reeves and attorney N. A. Gibson petitioned the City Council for a Street car franchise. Captain Reeves promoted the company. The street cars were ready for passengers by March 15, 1905, and on the morning of that day the first run was made to the Frisco depot and return. The first car was filled with prominent ladies and gentlemen, with Mayor S. M. Rutherford as motorman and C. N. Haskell as conductor. Mr. Haskell demonstrated his ability as a money getter by collecting $59.35 from the passengers on the first trip, the money being turned over to a committee to be held in trust for the Y. M. C. A. which had not yet been organized. On the return trip motorman Rutherford ran into a team of mules at the corner of Third and Court streets which had dared to dispute with him for the right of way. Captain Reeves was the first president of the street car company and managed the system for some years after its organization.
The street car company of today operates thirty-three miles of track, with lines extending out in ten directions from the business section of the city and employs a force of sixty-five men. Through careless, indifferent management, the rolling stock of the company has become somewhat dilapidated but the present managers are promising some material improvements at an early date.
Muskogee’s first gas plant was completed on the 17th day of April, 1905. It was built by the H. M. Byllesby Company, of Chicago and was owned by the Muskogee Ice and Power Company.
The Hinton Opera House was completed and dedicated to the public on the night of December 9, 1905, with the play entitled “Babes in Toyland.” Some of the seats for the opening night sold as high as $20. each, and the first night’s receipts amounted to about $9,000.
Muskogee Ice & Power Co.
A few, little, private light and power plants were installed during the last decade of the past century, but immediately following that famous fire of February 23, 1899, which event the old settlers regard as the death of the old and the birth of the new Muskogee, Clarence Turner induced a few friends to join him in building a combined plant which would furnish the town with an adequate supply of ice, electric light and power, and the Muskogee Ice & Power Co. was organized and a plant erected on South Cherokee Street at a cost of $30,000. It was regarded as a great improvement for the town at the time it was put in operation, and it supplied the city’s needs for several years, but the rapid growth of the city soon made it necessary to rebuild and. very materially enlarge the plant.
On March 1, 1903, this plant was sold to H. M. Byllesby & Co., of Chicago, and has been enlarged from time to time, to meet the increasing demands of the growing city. The new company also covered the city with a network of pipe for natural gas, so that almost every home and many of the factories are now supplied with natural gas for fuel.
Muskogee’s Water Works
As early as 1899 the citizens and City Council realized the importance of securing an adequate supply of pure water for the already growing city. The Katy pond, in the north part of the city, which had been furnishing water for the engines of the only railroad and for the cotton gins, was already drying up, and the drinking water obtained from wells sunk in various neighborhoods was not of the best quality.
In 1899 Mr. H. V. Hinckley, a civil engineer from Kansas, was employed by the city to devise plans by which the city could be assured of an inexhaustible supply of pure water. After a thorough investigation Mr. Hinckley recommended that water be brought from Grand River, a beautiful stream, four miles northeast of the city. This river comes down out of the Cherokee hills and its clear, crystal water is not contaminated by the refuse from oil wells, and is free from other impurities. Muskogee was not yet able to raise any funds by taxation except upon personal property and the cost of laying pipe and installing the necessary machinery to carry out the plans of the engineer seemed too great for the city to undertake. The city officials and citizens, however, foresaw the necessity of having an unlimited supply of pure water, if their anticipations of a real city in the future were to be realized, and within a short time bonds were issued in the sum of $150,000, and water, sufficient to supply the needs of the city at that time, was brought from Grand River. As the city increased in population the water system was enlarged, until, at the present time, the city water system has a capacity of 6,000,000 barrels per day, representing an investment of $1,200,000. No other investment has ever been made by Muskogee which exceeded in real value and importance to the future welfare of the city, the cost of its Munic- ipal Water Works. Its superiority over that of any other system in the state was but recently demonstrated by the action of the Legislative Commission in locating the $500,000 Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Muskogee, in preference to any of the other ten cities which had applied for it.
Muskogee Law Library
A meeting of the Muskogee Bar Association was called during the month of January, 1910, for discussing ways and means of establishing, a central law library for the use and convenience of the lawyers of the city. It was agreed that a library association should be formed and that as rapidly as funds would permit, a complete case library, sets of selected cases, standard cyclopedias and digests, statutes of the various states and publications of the Interior department relating to Indian lands, would be secured.
On February 6, 1910, the Muskogee Law Library Association was incorporated with about sixty members. The first board of directors were : DeRoos Bailey, C. L. Thomas, George C. Butte, Edgar A. de Meules, Sam V. 0 ‘Hare and W. T. Hutchings.
It was decided, at first to fix the membership fee at $250, and sixty-two lawyers subscribed for membership at that price. Many young attorneys, however, did not feel able to pay that fee, and in order that they might not be debarred from the use of the library, the membership fee was reduced to $50 in February, 1912, and the annual dues fixed at $25.
The library of today contains over seventy thousand carefully selected volumes, including the leading Federal and State Reports and the standard textbooks on legal subjects. Aside from the State library it is regarded as the best law library in Oklahoma.
Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.