Prosperity from the Get-go
Sitting about 40 miles north of the Red River, Ardmore was at first a fledgling trading center within the
Chickasaw Indian Nation.  Anglos began settling the area when they realized that the fertile lands surrounding
the town, coupled with a fairly mild climate, allowed perfect conditions for cattle grazing and farming (mostly
cotton). Once the Santa Fe rail road laid its tracks in 1887, Ardmore was born - the rail road execs named the
new townsite after a rail town in Pennsylvania.

Although a bad fire in 1895 destroyed much of the town, it was rebuilt bigger and better than ever - and by
statehood, it already boasted the first public school in Oklahoma. Its expansion mirrored the growth of
Oklahoma. When oil was discovered in 1910, Ardmore's prosperity manifested itself in a dazzling downtown.
But with riches, oil fields brought their own tragedies, too - like the 1915 disaster, where a rail road tanker full
of gas exploded, leveling the depot and several downtown buildings.

Still Growing
Today, Ardmore continues to play a big part in Oklahoma's economy, and even in Texas history - it's the place
where Texas Democrats fled when they went on strike in May 2003. The city is also the anchor for regional
tourism and is home to a branch of  Murray State College, a branch of East Central University, and the
Oklahoma State Horse Shoeing School. Quite fitting for a ranching center!

Things to See and Do
Ardmore's location and amenities lends itself to a good weekend get-a-way. The walking tour of its Art Deco
downtown, including Heritage Hall, is worth the drive alone. The 1910 courthouse which, oddly enough, faces
an alley, has been restored.

Then, check out the large number of WPA buildings, like the Hardy Murphy Coliseum and the old Armory
building, which is now the Greater Southwest Museum. This museum hides local history treasures, including
an electric car and a fully restored homesteader cabin. For more information, call 580-226-3857.

Across the street from the museum you'll find the first cabin (dogtrot style) built by Anglo settlers in what
would become Ardmore.

The nature lover is bound to have a good time in Ardmore. To the north are the Arbuckle mountains, home to
Turner Falls Park (580-369-2917) and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area complete with scenic drives and
nature trails. South of town is
Lake Murray State Park (580-223-4044), with the picturesque, WPA-built Tucker
Tower Nature Center.

Ardmore also has a great selection of eclectic restaurants and stores. The downtown area is chock full of
funky specialty shops that gives the city the feel of a college town. It's a great place to visit - so if you're in the
mood for a road trip, head on out to Ardmore.
The Hamburger Inn in downtown Ardmore dates to the 1930s. This is the second Hamburger Inn; the first one was in El Reno on
Route 66, where the Onion Burger originated.
Ardmore - where trees make fun of you
Ardmore is 30 miles north of the Red River on Interstate 35.
You can visualize that by clicking on the map!
Ardmore: Parallel Path to Statehood
Downtown Ardmore in the 1920s, looking west from either Washington or Mill Streets (Ardmore Public Library).
Despite its exotic name, the Oklahoma, New Mexico & Pacific Railway (pictured is the depot in Ardmore) only spanned to
nearby Ringling.
Ella Hunter was an early 20th century real estate tycoon in Ardmore.
She wanted to make sure you knew this building belonged to her.
Ardmore's old high school for white students sits on Washington Street, very close to the downtown area.
After desegregation, a more modern high school was built to accommodate all students.
Here's one of Ardmore's best builidngs, in my opinion. First, it survived the downtown blast; second, much of its
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
How to Get There