This Day in Oklahoma History


02 May

Oklahoma Territory Organized

Oklahoma Territory was an organized territory of the United States from May 2, 1890 until November 16, 1907, when Oklahoma became the 46th state. It consisted of the western area of what is now the State of Oklahoma. The eastern area consisted of the last remnant of Indian Territory. more...

Friday, May 02, 1890

02 May

President George W. Bush at OSU

President George W. Bush delivers the commencement address at the 2006 Oklahoma State University graduation ceremony. more...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

03 May

1999 Moore F5 Tornado

Moore, Oklahoma, was hit by a a tornado, rated an F5 on the Fujita scale, and was one of the strongest and most destructive tornadoes ever recorded in history. The tornado, which occurred during the Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak, had an approximate recorded wind speed of 318 MPH, left a swath of destruction nearly 7 miles long, and killed 36 people in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. more...

Monday, May 03, 1999

04 May

Greer County joins Oklahoma Territory

Greer County, created by the Texas legislature on February 8, 1860 (and named for John Alexander Greer, Lieutenant Governor of Texas), was land claimed by both Texas and the United States. In a lawsuit, United States v. State of Texas 162 U.S. 1 (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the land of some 1.5 million acres belonged to the United States. Following that ruling, on May 4, 1896, the land was officially assigned by Congress to Oklahoma Territory. When Oklahoma became the 46th U.S. state (November 16, 1907), old "Greer County" was divided into Greer, Harmon, Jackson, and part of Beckham counties. more...

Monday, May 04, 1896

08 May

President Benjamin Harrison nominates first Governor of the Oklahoma Territory

President Benjamin Harrison's nomination of George Washington Steele to be the first Governor of the Oklahoma Territory, May 8, 1890. Congress holds the power to make all the needful laws in the territories including the establishment of the territory and territorial government. In 1890 Congress created the Oklahoma Territory and confirmed George Washington Steele as the Territorial Governor. RG 46, Records of the United States Senate. More...

Thursday, May 08, 1890

10 May

The Snyder Tornado

Oklahoma Territory was struck by one of the worst natural disasters in early American history. Tornadoes pounded the southwest part of the Territory, one of which flattened the town of Snyder. The "official" death toll is listed today as 97, but the actual number of victims may never be known. One hundred years later, this single tornado remains the second most deadly (at least) in Oklahoma history, and ranks among the 20 most deadly tornadoes in United States history. more...

Wednesday, May 10, 1905

10 May

Picher Tornado

On this day Picher was struck by a tornado. As of May 11th there were six confirmed deaths, possibly including one child, and many other injuries. The tornado first touched down near the Kansas-Oklahoma border in Oklahoma southwest of Chetopa, Kansas and tracked eastward. It then slammed into Picher with devastating results. 20 blocks of the town suffered extensive damage with houses and businesses destroyed or flattened. The damage in Picher was rated at EF4. At least 150 others were injured in Picher alone. The tornado continued eastward, passing just north of Quapaw and Peoria before crossing Interstate 44 into Missouri. This was the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma since the South Oklahoma City F5 tornado on May 3, 1999 which killed 36. The federal government also decided that there would be no aid given to rebuild homes, but the buyouts would continue as previously scheduled and people will be assisted in relocation. More...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

11 May

Dust storm sweeps from Great Plains across Eastern states

On this day in 1934, a massive storm sends millions of tons of topsoil flying from across the parched Great Plains region of the United States as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta. ... The dust storms forced thousands of families from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico to uproot and migrate to California, where they were derisively known as "Okies"--no matter which state they were from. These transplants found life out West not much easier than what they had left, as work was scarce and pay meager during the worst years of the Great Depression. ... More...

Friday, May 11, 1934

13 May

The Parking Meter Patent Filed

The world's first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a "coin controlled parking meter" on May 13, 1935. more...

Monday, May 13, 1935

16 May

SONIC America's Drive-In

Troy Smith opens his first Top Hat Drive-In in Shawnee, OK, featuring an intercom speaker system for ordering and Carhop delivery service. Later Top Hat will be re-named SONIC Drive-In, and become the nation's largest chain of drive-in restaurants. more...
{NOTE: May 16th isn't the exact date. It's actually the date of SONIC opening their 3000th store in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 2005. If you know the exact date, please let us know.}

Saturday, May 16, 1953

17 May

Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Created

On May 17, 1999, Governor Frank Keating signed SB 720, the Space Authority Industry Development Act, creating the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority. On May 24, 1999, SB 719, the Space Industry Tax Incentive Act, was signed into law, encouraging commercial aerospace development in the state through tax credits. more...

Monday, May 17, 1999

18 May

Happy Birthday

On this day was founded more...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

20 May

2013 Moore EF5 Tornado

The 2013 Moore tornado was a catastrophic tornado that occurred on the afternoon of May 20, 2013. The EF5 tornado, with peak winds estimated at 210 miles per hour (340 km/h), impacted Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, killing at least 24 people, including 9 children, and injuring more than 240 others. More ...

Monday, May 20, 2013

22 May

1st Governor of Oklahoma Territory

On this day George Washington Steele was inaugurated in Guthrie as Oklahoma Territory's first governor. He was appointed by US President Benjamin Harrison. more...

Thursday, May 22, 1890

23 May

Flag planted on Rock Mary

Rock Mary was the most prominent Oklahoma landmark seen on the California Road by Capt. R. B. Marcy. First visited May 23, 1849, and U.S. flag raised on the peak by Lts. M. P. Harrison (brother of Pres. Benj. Harrison) and J.H. Simpson. Named in honor of 17 yr. Mary Conway, grand daughter of Arkansas Gov. Conway and cousin of President James Madison. more...

Wednesday, May 23, 1849

25 May

The Blackwell Tornado

A tornado struck Blackwell at 9:27 pm and destroyed the east side of town. Approximately 80 blocks in town were damaged or destroyed. more...

Wednesday, May 25, 1955

26 May

National Softball Hall of Fame Dedicated

The National Softball Hall of Fame was officially dedicated May 26, 1973 in Oklahoma City. The building was opened to the public July 1, 1973. more...

Saturday, May 26, 1973

26 May

The I-40 Bridge Disaster

The I-40 Bridge Disaster occurred when a barge collided with a bridge support near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, causing a 580 foot (180 m) section of the I-40 bridge to plunge into the Arkansas River. Joe Dedmon, captain of the tugboat Robert Y. Love, experienced a blackout and lost control of the ship. Due to the location of the accident, automobiles and tractor trailers fell into the water, killing fourteen people. more...

Sunday, May 26, 2002

26 May

President Obama Tours Oklahoma Storm Damage

President Barack Obama visits the areas and families affected by the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and thanks first responders for their work. May 26, 2013.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

27 May

Oklahoma Historical Society Organized

The Oklahoma Historical Society was organized at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Press Association, held at Kingfisher, on May 27, 1893. more...

Saturday, May 27, 1893

28 May

Indian Removal Act of 1830

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was a law passed by the Twenty-first United States Congress in order to facilitate the relocation of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River in the United States to lands further west. The Removal Act, part of a U.S. government policy known as Indian Removal, was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. more...

Friday, May 28, 1830

28 May

Jim Thorpe Born

Today Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe was born. Considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon, played American football both collegiate and professional, and also played professional baseball and basketball. more...

Monday, May 28, 1888

29 May

The Steamboat *Enterprise*

The Steamboat "Enterprise" opened commercial navigation on the Red River. More...

Saturday, May 29, 1830

29 May

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Public Service Company of Oklahoma was established in the merger of Vinita Electric Light and Power Company with five other small electric companies - in Atoka, Coalgate, Lehigh, Guthrie and Tulsa, Oklahoma, on this day. Today PSO serves 230 communities across the state. more...

Thursday, May 29, 1913

31 May

Tulsa Race Riot

The Tulsa Race Riot, also known as the 1921 Race Riot, the Tulsa Race War, or the Greenwood Riot, was a large-scale civil disorder confined mainly to the racially segregated Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA in 1921. more...

Tuesday, May 31, 1921

31 May

2013 El Reno EF5 Tornado

On Friday, May 31, 2013, a *super rare* category of EF5 tornadoes struck near El Reno, Oklahoma. The National Weather Service estimated that the tornado that struck El Reno was an EF5, the strongest classification for a twister. It was a record 2.6 miles wide and tracked across 16.2 miles. More...

Friday, May 31, 2013