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Railroad Rumblings

July 11, 2001

Historian's Notes

The Enid and Pond Creek railroad struggle of 1894 is just a small example of the confusion and frustration involved in the white settlement of Oklahoma. I find this incident particularly interesting due to the extreme measures resorted to, both on the side of the railroad as well as the side of disgruntled residents. Note: By re-telling this incident, I am in no way advocating the destruction of railroad equipment.

Resources

Goble, D. (1980). Progressive Oklahoma : The Making of a New Kind of State. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

In addition, there are extensive newspaper holdings at the Oklahoma State Historical Society that have first-hand accounts of the melee for those interested in further research.

Almanac Transcript

Railroad rumblings this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Kite.

The land runs of Oklahoma are full of exciting stories but none more so than the saga of the towns of Pond Creek and South Enid. Just before the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in 1893, the U.S. Government designated two town sites as county seats of the new area those being South Enid, now called just Enid, and Pond Creek. Unfortunately, the only railroad running through the area, the Rock Island Railroad, chose to build its depots at two alternative locations, North Enid and Pond Creek Station.

Despite government orders and civilian protest, the railroad refused to stop at either Enid or Pond Creek continuing through the towns at speeds of over forty miles an hour to stop at its "official" depots. With confidence placed squarely on the side of the government the populations of Enid and Pond Creek continued to grow, but still the railroad refused to stop. The lack of rail service severely hurt the economy of both towns, and the citizens resorted to desperate measures. Small houses placed on the tracks were demolished as the trains ran through them, and when brave citizens stood on the tracks, they were shot at by the Winchester-wielding train crews. Lives in Pond Creek and South Enid were daily placed in imminent danger as numerous trains roared through both towns refusing to stop, obey crossing regulations or even to slow down. Incensed at the nerve of one corporation standing up to the U.S. Government at the expense of helpless citizens, several court actions against the Rock Island Line were started but failed to get off the ground.

In Pond Creek, a newspaper was begun entitled the Pond Creek Train Wrecker, and in both towns citizens began to mobilize against the railroad. It was in this week of 1894, July 13th, that when the Rock Island Line began its daily run through the area, a fifteen car train was demolished as it fell through a sabotaged trestle near South Enid, and in Pond Creek at the same time a dynamite blast tore through bridges and tracks outside of town. For the first time the trains were forced to stop at each town site. The violence resulted in a declaration of marshal law and the military was called out to control the angry mobs of townspeople now armed with shotguns and marching on the railroad headquarters. Eventually, because of the attention called to the situation by the brave citizens of Enid and Pond Creek, Congress passed laws correcting the situation providing regulated rail service for both towns.

Dynamite does the trick this week on the Almanac.

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