Skip to main content
Skip menu links

Rails to Our Future Explores Area's History

By Sue Weissinger, Curator of the NMLM on 03/22/2013 An old photo of the Forgan Depot—Courtesy of Jones and Plummer Trail MuseumAn old photo of the Forgan Depot—Courtesy of Jones and Plummer Trail Museum Goodwell, Okla.—The "Rails to Our Future" exhibit at the No Man's Land Museum opens Tuesday, April 2, 2013, and the public is encouraged to take advantage of all events surrounding the exhibit.

Using artifacts, aerial photographs, photographs of depots and grain elevators, maps, and railroad sounds, the exhibit will elaborate on the four railroads and the history of the towns that were built near the tracks. Several special, free events are planned around the weekend of April 6-7. On Saturday, April 6, the Museum will open at 10 a.m. for visitors to view the exhibit and there will be a book signing for two books: Cattle, Wheat, and Oil: Oklahoma Panhandle Railroads by Sue Weissinger and Images of America: Texas County by Harold Kachel, V. Pauline Hodges and Kathal Bales through 4 p.m. To reserve a seat for the reception and a Harvey House Blue Plate Special meal on Sunday in the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Student Union Building Ballroom, telephone Jill Olson at 580.349.1302 or email her at jillolson@opsu.edu. Visitors may pick up their reserved "railroad tickets" beginning the day the Exhibit opens on April 2 through Sunday, April 7. On Sunday, the Museum opens at 1 p.m. and the reserved tickets will also be available that day. A groundbreaking ceremony on the Museum grounds will be held to announce the upcoming Museum addition at 4:30. The reception at OPSU begins at 5:30 followed by the Blue Plate Special meal. All events are free and the public is invited.

The "Rails to Our Future" exhibit is being developed by the Museum around the four railroads built in the Oklahoma Panhandle beginning in 1901. Transportation to major ports or cities guarantees that a town thrives. In the Oklahoma Panhandle, this was especially true. Without a way to move their products, towns and businesses were tenuous. The cattlemen were the economic backbone of the area. They depended on the cattle trails and cattle drives to deliver cattle to the consumer. During this era, few towns survived in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and the population was sparse. As the railroads approached the Kansas southern border, the cattle drives shifted further west and became shorter. The cattlemen began to depend on the railroad to deliver cattle to the stockyards in Chicago, Illinois and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1888, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P) reached the border of No Man's Land as the Oklahoma Panhandle was then known. The town of Liberal, Kansas grew at the end of the line. By 1901, when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad laid tracks across the Oklahoma Panhandle, only a few towns existed in the area: Beaver City, Tyrone, Optima, Hardesty, and Kenton.

The railroad age forever changed the Oklahoma Panhandle, bringing in new towns, forcing others to move, and causing some to die. The Homestead Act enabled farmers to own land free after improving on it, and the railroad allowed the shipping of their products to distant markets. Farmers poured into the area to take advantage of the opportunity. With new towns and farmers came the grain elevators. The cattlemen also benefitted from faster times to market, ending the age of cattle drives.

Four railroads, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P), the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railroad (KATY), the Beaver, Meade, and Englewood Railroad (BM&E), and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF), built into the Oklahoma Panhandle. The AT&SF was the first to remove some of their track in 1942. The KATY and the BM&E no longer exist. The towns that were built along their tracks are in perilous times. A few, such as Floris and Mocane have disappeared.

Again, everyone is invited to explore the exhibit and join friends and neighbors to all of the activities surrounding it.


We Are Panhandle We Are Panhandle!

Image Rotator

Panhandle State Student Plays in the 2017 Mixed Worlds Tournament in Florida

Desha Almanza, a student here at Panhandle State, got the opportunity to travel to Florida this past October where she competed in the Mixed Worlds Tournament in Orlando held Oct. 13-15. —Courtesy photo

Image Rotator

Panhandle State Table Named Winner at Chamber Banquet

Nikki Stork decorated the Panhandle State table for the recent Guymon Chamber of Commerce Banquet and the table was named the winner of the decorating contest. —Photo by Danae Moore

Image Rotator

Women’s Team Wins Final Fall Rodeo

Shay Spitz ran the fastest time of the weekend in the barrel racing at the college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Okla. this past weekend. —Photo by Dale Hirschman

Image Rotator

PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Inductees Honored with Banquet Ceremony

From left: David Flowers, Bob Wakefield, Georgia Walton and the family of Jerry Linton gathered for a night of celebration at the 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony.-Sarah Brady photos

Image Rotator

2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Spotlight: Jerry Linton

Tickets are still available for the 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet held Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Panhandle State Student Union Ballroom.

Image Rotator

McKee Library Hosts Elementary Visitors

Goodwell Elementary School students visited the McKee Library for a tour hosted by Director Tony Hardman. —Photo by Danae Moore

Image Rotator

2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Spotlight: Georgia Walton

Image Rotator

Run With It: J. Dee Marinko

Former Aggie football player and Men's Sitting Volleyball Paralympian, J. Dee Marinko visited campus and shared his story with Aggie athletes on Monday, Oct. 9.-Danae Moore photo

Image Rotator

2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Spotlight: Bob Wakefield

The 2017 PTCI Aggie Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet takes place Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at Panhandle State.

Image Rotator

Aggie Baseball Helps Host Special Game Day

Panhandle State Baseball players gather around Austin Ronne after he threw out the first pitch at the Special Game Day on October 8 in Goodwell. —Photo by Alexis Faris

Image Rotator

Rogelio Reyna Visits Monday Munch

Students enjoyed the opportunity to meet Professional Makeup Artist Rogelio Reyna at a recent Monday Munch hosted by the Alumni Office. —Photo by Danae Moore

Image Rotator

Torres Wins National Hispanic College Quiz

This past July, Oklahoma Panhandle State University senior Ami Torres Acuña (second from the right) competed in Nashville at the Hispanic College Quiz and won the competition! —Courtesy photo