April 22, 1889

Opening of the Cherokee Outlet, 1893.

Image courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society Research & Archives Division



Becoming a Town Overnight


At noon on April 22, 1889, everything changed at Edmond Station on the Santa Fe Railroad line. In the morning John W. Steen, his wife and two year-old son and a couple of railroad workers quietly went about their day. By nightfall there were 100 to 150 people, mostly men, busy trying to organize a town and find a place to bed down.


The largest crowds of would-be homesteaders and merchants eagerly waited around Hunnewell, Arkansas City, and Caldwell, Kansas to make their mad dash from the north. Three days before the run, the Army allowed the future Oklahomans to cross through the Cherokee Outlet and gather behind a line of soldiers on the northern boundary of the Oklahoma District.  When the legal entry time of twelve noon came, the great land rush thundered across previously docile plains. It was high drama, with participants eager to secure a piece of the free land in the Unassigned Lands of central Oklahoma. They arrived by railroad, wagon, buggy, horseback and on foot. It has even been said one man rode his bicycle. While many people were bound for the larger proposed settlements of Oklahoma Station (now Oklahoma City), Guthrie and Norman, many found their way to Edmond Station. A claim of 160 acres was free to all who participated and staked a claim.  The only cost was a $14.00 filing fee. In addition, persons staking a claim had to be at least 21 and an U.S. citizen.


Those who participated in the April 22, 1889, run and those who continued to arrive in the area until December 31, 1889, are referred to in history as the 1889ers.  In 1890, Indian Territory became Oklahoma Territory.


Edmond Historic Preservation Trust, J.L. Crowder, Nina W. Hager