Wewoka Switch Depot
In the autumn of 1894, during the heyday of railroad migration through the Indian Territory, Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad purchased the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf rail lines running through the Seminole Nation. Over the next year, Rock Island Railroad developed the railway into a 120-mile route running from the Indian Territory coal mines of McAlester to the industrial and commercial centers in the Oklahoma Territory. Situated near the western boundary of the Indian Territory, a portion of the line ran through Wewoka – a sizable trading post and capital of the Seminole Nation.
A Depot & Oil Boom
In the early years of the Twentieth Century, Rock Island established a new depot in Wewoka and built a switching area. The switching area, or “siding,” extended over a half mile in each direction from the station. This “switch,” as it was generally called, was the largest such system of Rock Island’s west of the Mississippi. For a radius of thirty-five miles, merchants, traders, and businessmen ordered goods and supplies, which were then shipped via railroad to the nearest siding. They drove in wagons to accept delivery of these items. In this geographic area, they were shipped to the Wewoka Switch!
In the 1920s, oil was discovered southeast of Wewoka, and virtually overnight, the quiet community became a busy, crowded city, teeming with the hustle and bustle of thousands of new occupants. The local population soared from 2,500 to 20,000 in just a few months. Oil field supplies, parts, pipes, casing, drilling rigs, and other equipment flooded the Wewoka Switch. Adding to the confusion, every merchant’s stock orders were doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled to meet the voracious needs of the swelling population. The Boom was on!