Wagoner County, Oklahoma History

In 1883 a side track was built on the Katy Railroad about a mile south of the present site of the town and named “Wagoner Switch,” in honor of the chief dispatcher of the railroad. The laying of track was continued six miles farther south and Gibson Station was established during the summer of 1871, and until the spring of 1872, during which time the Arkansas River bridge was in process of construction this station was the terminus of the Railroad.

Captain George Shannon, now a resident of Wagoner, conducted the principal store at Gibson Station for forty years following 1880 and is thoroughly familiar with the early settlement and development of that section of the state. He was employed by the railroad as a bridge builder while the track was being laid from Parsons, Kan. to Muskogee, and he enjoys rehearsing the story of the race which the railroads ran in reaching Indian Territory. It appears that the Federal Government had proposed to donate every alternate section of land for ten miles on each side of the track to the first railroad entering Indian Territory, provided that this grant of land should be of no effect unless and until the Indians voluntarily abandoned it. About the time the Katy road arrived at Chetopa, Kan., the Fort Scott & Gulf Road reached Baxter Springs, Mo., both points being with in three or four miles from the Indian Territory line. Upon reaching Chetopa, the men in charge of building the Katy road employed an extra force of men, rushed the work and were the first to reach the Territory line. Quite a large crowd of people gathered to witness the entrance of the first railroad into Indian Territory and it is said that Mr. R. S. Stevens, then general manager of the road drove the last spike in Kansas, and Col. E. C. Boudinot, the noted Cherokee lawyer, drove the first spike in Indian Territory.

Gibson Station

Upon the arrival of the railroad at Gibson Station the first permanent depot to be established in Oklahoma was built in 1872. Captain George Shannon, standing in front, is one of the first settlers to see this road when put through and Russell McGee, the present agent is in background.

Shannon built a turn table for reversing the engines, and erected a portable depot, which was shipped to Muskogee upon the completion of the Arkansas River bridge. The permanent depot which was shortly afterward erected at Gibson Station was Indian Territory’s first railway depot and it is still in use and in good condition. Gibson Station was a much more important point in those pioneer days than at the present time. For many months it was the nearest railroad point to Fort Gibson, twelve miles toward the southeast and a regular stage line for passengers and freight was maintained between the two places. The soldiers stationed at Fort Gibson and their friends came to this station to catch the northbound train or to meet their friends coming from the North.

Many noted persons stopped over night with Captain Shannon at Gibson Station, while en route to the Fort, among whom were James G. Blaine and Colonel Coppenger, his son-in-law, Carl Schurz, secretary of the Interior, General U. S. Grant and General W. T. Sherman. It was not unusual in those days for several hundred Indians and Negroes to assemble at the station daily, to watch for the arrival of the daily train, for a locomotive was a strange and wonderful sight to many of them.

Quite a little war occurred in this vicinity in 1878, between the Cherokees and Creeks, caused by a dispute concerning the ownership of certain cattle, followed by one or two murders. Before much blood was shed, however, William Penn Adair, influential Cherokee, and James Childers, prominent Creek assisted by a few others, succeeded in effecting peace between the two belligerent bands.

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.

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