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World's First Parking Meters /
Battle of Honey Springs

July 19, 2000

Historian's Notes

Although OSU has many things to be proud of, I'm not sure if the invention of parking meters is one of them. Still, because they are something that we have to contend with on a daily basis, I felt it would be a good Almanac topic.

The Battle of Honey Springs was the largest engagement of the Civil War fought in what is now Oklahoma. Because of the Confederate loss, Northern troops gained control of most of Indian Territory. For the residents of Indian Territory, the Civil War was an unimaginable time of loss, hardship and violence. The engagement at Honey Springs was a major contribution to the lessening of the hard times for Indian Territory residents.

Resources for "World's First Parking Meters":

Parcher, J. V. (1988). A history of the Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University.

OSU's Special Collections & University Archives also holds information on the first parking meter.

Resources for "Battle of Honey Springs":

Fischer, L. (1974). The Civil War era in Indian Territory. Los Angeles: L. L. Morrison.

Much information also came from various Oklahoma history texts.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

It this week in Oklahoma history that the world's first parking meters were installed. The event resulting from work and designs perfected by Oklahoma A&M professors H. G. Theusen and Gerald Hale took place in Oklahoma City. Carl Magee, chairman of the Oklahoma City traffic committee contacted the Engineering and Design professors for help in alleviating traffic and parking congestion in downtown Oklahoma City. In 1933 Magee supplied $500.00 for a parking meter design contest to be held Oklahoma's A&M, and with the depression in full swing students were eager to compete for the prize money. Professors Theusen and Hale, taking the best of the contest entries, worked with the concept over the summer and fall of 1933 eliminating most design and performance problems by the following year. The Dual Parking Meter Company formed in Oklahoma City in 1935 and production of the meters began immediately. With crowds of spectators and news reporters gathered round, the first meters went up on the morning of July 16th, 1935. The parking meter essentially charged citizens for using public facilities and legal challenges to the notion quickly arose. Ruling that the meters merely charged for the policing of traffic in public areas state courts deemed the device, perhaps frustrating but definitely legal.

Seventy two years before traffic congestion became a problem in Oklahoma City, The Battle of Honey Springs occurred near present day Checotah, Oklahoma. The Honey Springs engagement has been called the most important event of the Civil War to occur in Indian Territory. In the spring of 1863 Union troops from Kansas marched, virtually unopposed, through the area ultimately occupying Fort Gibson. Southern troops gathered near the fort in preparation for an assault but were themselves confronted with a surprise attack by federal forces on the morning of July 17th, 1863. The northern forces, completely successful in their rout of the Confederate troops, quickly followed up their victory with others in the region. The Battle of Honey Springs and the Union victory there proved to be the beginning of permanent northern control of Indian Territory for the duration of the Civil War...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma' Public Radio.

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