125 years ago this month the unassigned lands in the central part of Oklahoma were settled through the April 22 land run. In one short day, towns popped up all over what was once empty prairie, and central Oklahoma's population exploded. If you've never studied this unique way that much of our state was settled, this is a great time to learn about it!
Guthrie was the territorial capital of Oklahoma and though it isn't the state capital today, it is still full of some fabulous sites to visit and learn about the land run and life in Oklahoma Territory. Many of these places are free or very low-cost to visit and Guthrie is just a short drive from the OKC metro, so a day in Guthrie would be an easy and educational field trip. The April issue of MetroFamily Magazine has more details on these venues and on some of the land run celebrations, so check it out to plan your trip!
The Oklahoma Territorial Museum should be at the top of your list when you visit Guthrie. The galleries are set up chronologically beginning with the removal and relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes and ending with the earliest years of statehood. Visitors can see items settlers would have packed in their wagon on the day of the land run and kids can even dress up! There is so much to see and learn there!
The Oklahoma Frontier Drugstore Museum is an entertaining and educational look at settlers' lives in the late nineteenth century. The museum is filled with medical and household items from the time period and it's really fun to see some of these products and figure out how they were used!
Another great way to hear about the history of the area is with a trolley tour. First Capital Trolley offers daily narrated tours around town. During your hour on the trolley you'll see Guthrie's historic district and hear stories about some of its most famous residents. You'll learn something new, and if you have any Daniel Tiger fans in your family, they'll think just riding on the trolley is fun!
Right here in the metro, Norman will have its annual 89er parade Saturday, April 12.
While most Oklahomans know about the April 22, 1889 land run, many people don't realize that there were actually seven different land runs to settle areas around the state. You may want to read more here, or if you visit Enid, you can go to the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, which tells the stories of the state's largest land run.
If you want to celebrate in a simple way, have the kids stake their claim in the backyard and have a picnic. However you do it, have fun together!