The Oklahoma Stampede: the day 50,000 people raced to own free land


The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: The 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush

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Opening up the Oklahoma territory

On April 22, 1889, the federal government decided to open up some new land for people to live on, and lots of people wanted to get in on the action. They all gathered in Arkansas City, ready to go!

10,000 people showed up, all trying to get on one of the 15 trains that were going to take them to the new land.

When the clock struck 11 am, the first train left, and all the people cheered and tried to get on board. They were all so excited to get to the new land that they were practically climbing over each other! Can you imagine the noise? The shoving and pushing as people crowded together, all trying to be first to claim free land?

What would you do to get 160 acres of free land?

You only had to do 2 things to keep your 160 acres of free land:

➡️You had to live on the land for 5 years and

➡️You had to improve the land (building, farming, etc.)

When you proved you had done both of those things, the land was deeded over to you. Even now, millions of people would be willing to do whatever necessary if the same deal were offered.

Would your homestead be in town? Or way out in the rurals?

That day in 1899, at noon, a loud whistle blew, and all the trains started to race towards the new land. The people on the trains were shouting and waving their handkerchiefs and flags. They were all so excited to be a part of this big moment in history.

Some people were so eager to get to the new land that they jumped off the train before it even got there! They wanted to make sure they got a good spot to live on. But most people decided to take a spot in one of the new towns that were being built, that we now know as Guthrie and Oklahoma City.

In the end, over 50,000 people went to the new land that day to claim a spot to live. And thousands of their descendants still live here today. Was your family part of the Oklahoma Land Rush?

****If you enjoy reading about the history of Oklahoma, you might like The Oklahoma rancher who played by his own rules


Hi, I'm Judy! I love bringing a magnifying glass to where psychology and history cross. What makes people do what they do? Why did they make that choice? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments and share this article on social media and with family and friends, if you'd like.

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Judy Derby has worked in the surrounding communities as a social worker and advocate. providing resources and information to help local families meet their basic needs. She's been writing about social issues and related topics for over 10 years.

Antlers, OK

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