Best Historic Sites in the West South Central States Part One In Oklahoma vs Texas
Edited by Kathy McGraw
Oklahoma and Texas are part of the region of the United States known as the West South Central. The history of this region is dominated by the push to colonize the West, which the American government urged its citizens to do, saying that the United States had a Manifest Destiny to conquer all of the lands between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Method 1: In Oklahoma
Oklahoma's heritage is synonymous with the history of the western frontier, being one of the first areas where Americans settled as the country expanded westward under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Struggles with the Native Americans who were already living there are a major part of Oklahoma history, as well as a strong amount of Native culture.
- 1AJ Seay Mansion and Pioneer Village, Kingfisher. A.J. Seay was the Second Territorial Governor of the land which later became the state of Oklahoma. He had the Seay Mansion built in 1892, which is today open to the public. Close to the mansion is the Pioneer Village, which showcases life in the earliest days of the American expansion into the west. Included are log cabins, a church, and even a traditional one-room school house.Advertisement
- 2Marland Estate Mansion, Ponca City. Ponca City was an oil-boom town, and one of those who struck it rich in the surrounding oil fields was E.W. Marland, who went on to become the 10th governor of the state. In 1928, he had a grand mansion built for himself and his family in Ponca, and today you can tour the mansion and get a glimpse of what life was like for the well-to-do during America's Gilded Age.Advertisement
- 3Fort Washita Historic Site, Durant. Fort Washita has changed hands many times over its lifetime, going from an outpost for the U.S. Army to a Confederate fort after the Union army abandoned it. After that, the Chickasaw Indian tribe reclaimed it for a time before it fell into private ownership. The Oklahoma Historical Society acquired it in 1962, and since then, it has been open to the public for exploration.
- 4Route 66. Although Route 66 runs all the way to Los Angeles, the stretch that runs through Oklahoma contains many bits of history along the way. These include the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, the Transportation Museum, and the Blue Whale of Catoosa, which is actually an 80-foot replica of a sperm whale.
- 5Cherokee Heritage Center, Park Hill. The Cherokee Heritage Center is a living history museum that documents the lives and ways of the Cherokee. You can see a re-creation of a 1710 Cherokee village as well as the wooden structures at Adams Corner Rural Village, which depicts what life was like for the Cherokee in the 1890's.
- 8Sequoyah's Cabin, Sallisaw. Sequoyah was a Cherokee Indian who created a written language for his tribe. This crude log cabin with just one room was his home from 1829 to 1844, and it has been preserved to depict what life must have been like for the Cherokee man as well as artifacts of his work and the tools he used.
- 9Chisholm Trail Museum, Kingfisher. Preserving the Oklahoma's cowboy heritage, this museum is about the history of the Chisholm Trail, a trail that cowboys used to drive cattle up to Kansas where they could be loaded onto trains for shipping to other parts of the country. The trail was used from 1867 to 1877.
- 10Sod House Museum. This sod house is the only remaining original sod house left in North America. It was built in 1894 by the homesteader, Marshal McCully. McCully and his family occupied the tiny house from 1894 until 1909 when he built a larger frame house. A structure has been built around the original building to keep it safe from the elements, but the original house remains, representing a rare opportunity for visitors to see and walk through a real sod house.
- 11Fort Gibson Historic Site. Fort Gibson was an important military outpost on the western frontier from the time it was established in 1824 to 1890 when the U.S. Army declared it obsolete. Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Arbuckle supervised its construction, and its main purpose was to keep the peace between the Indian tribes in the area, such as the Cherokee and the Osage. It also served as the final point on the Trail of Tears, which saw thousands of native Americans forced from their ancestral homes at bayonet-point.
Method 2: In Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas and that includes its history. Starting off as Spanish, then a Mexican territory, the hardscrabble men, and women of this robust land declared their independence, and despite later joining the Union, a good dose of that fiery, independent spirit remains.
- 1The Alamo. You can't have a list of Texas historic sites without including the Alamo. Texans will always "remember the Alamo," where the Texan revolutionaries bravely defended their ground against the Mexican forces. The Mexican army won the day, but instead of crushing the Texans' spirits, it invigorated them to continue the fight.Advertisement
- 3USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, Corpus Christi. The U.S.S. Lexington is an aircraft carrier that was built in 1943 and served during World War II. She is the largest ship to have served in that war and is today a naval museum. On her decks, you can see vintage aircraft, visit her bridge, and take a guided tour through the heart of the ship.
- 8The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas. This museum commemorates a dark day in U.S. history when a sitting president was assassinated. In November of 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor of the former school book depository above Dealey Plaza. One of the shots struck President John F. Kennedy in the head and killed him. The spot where Oswald stood when he fired the gun is encased in plexiglass and from that very window, you can see the spot where Kennedy's motorcade was passing when he was shot. It is marked by a red X
- 11Port Isabel Lighthouse. Located in Port Isobel, one of the oldest towns in Texas is this beautiful lighthouse that has been around since at least the Civil War. Today you can climb to the very top where you'll have an excellent view of South Padre Island.
- 12Washington-on-the-Brazos. This is the site of the 1836 Texas Convention where Texas declared its independence from Mexico. It was the early capital of the Independent Texas Republic.
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