In order to look into Tulsa’s history, we must look back to the people called the Ozark Bluff Dwellers. These people lived in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, known as Green County. The Native Americans came to Oklahoma by way of the Trail of Tears in 1836. It was beneath the Council Oak Tree, located east of the Arkansas river, that their journey came to an end.
Many people decided to make the place their home. They named it Tullahassee. To this day, The place is located at 18th and Cheyenne near downtown Tulsa. Along with them, they brought ideas of trading and commerce. Their ideas they had influenced both Tulsa as well as Oklahoma as a whole.
The place was originally established to accommodate relocation of various Native American tribes. These tribes included Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Seminoles, Quapaws, Senecas, and Shawnees.
During this time, they were forced to leave their lands east of the Mississippi River and surrender them to the Federal Government in exchange for land in the Native American territory. The larger tribes were given large, extensive land holdings. Individual governments started to be formed and tribal members started new lives. They became farmers, trappers and ranchers. But this arrangement was only temporary. Throughout the mid-19th century, the natives were forced to accept several treaties. As a result, the amount of land they held became more and more limited.
White settlers started to move here. Railroads moved into the area. and, in 1892, the land officially opened and all of the tribal members had no choice but to accept individual allocations of land.
In 1882, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad extended its line to Tulsa, so it would serve cattle business, which was the city’s first industry. Both ranchers and settlers, Indians and whites included, who were living within 100 miles had previously been using Tulsa as a central trading point ever since the end of The Civil War. A stockyard was built, with cattle loading pens and chutes. It was built near the tracks, and cattle were driven from the Chickasaw nation and Seminole country to Tulsa for shipping. In addition, Texas cattle were shipped to the place and later shipped out to northern and eastern markets.
As Tulsa continued to grow, citizens started to take an active interest in the direction of Tulsa. As a result, the Tulsa Commercial Club, which was the forerunner of The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, was founded. This organization pressured the railroads into putting Tulsa on their lines. It was also responsible for the recruitment of many of Tulsa’s early businesses. In 1898, the city became incorporated. By 1900, Tulsa had a population of 1,390.
Tulsa experienced significant changes when oil discovery in 1901 happened at Red Fork, which was a small community southwest of Tulsa. Wildcatters and investors flocked to the city and Tulsa began to really develop. Many people brought their families with them because Tulsa had a reputation for being one of the few “safe” frontier cities. Neighborhoods were established in Tulsa on the north side of The Arkansas river, away from The drilling sites. They started to spread out from downtown Tulsa in all directions. In 1904, Tulsans built a bridge across the river. This allowed oilfield workers, supplies, food, and equipment to cross the river. This reaffirmed the position Tulsa held as the center of the oilfield.
In 1905, the Glenn Pool oilfield was discovered. This oil strike created a very large crude oil supply. It was so large, in fact, that it forced Tulsans to develops storage tanks for the excess oil and, later, pipe lines. This also laid Tulsa’s foundation to become a leader in several businesses that were related to oil and gas, on top of being the physical center of the growing petroleum industry. Eventually, Oklahoma was established by Glen Pool as one of the leading petroleum producing regions in the United States. Many earlier oil companies chose Tulsa to be their home base. When a second series of oil discoveries occurred between 1915 and 1930, it became well established as the oil Capital of The Nation.
During Tulsa’s early years, every mode of transportation was introduced to the area. The mud-filled streets became brick because of automobiles arriving to Tulsa. Electric trolleys followed the neighborhoods as they continued to develop further and further from downtown. Their service lasted up until World War II.
The economy in Tulsa was just slightly affected by World War I. The 1920s were a period of significant growth in the city. Residential development continued to grow in all directions. The lack of good water provision was Tulsa’s one domestic problem in previous times. This was solved when The Spavinaw Dam was constructed and water began to be pumped to Tulsa from 65 miles away.
Aviation became an important part of Tulsa’s economy in the 1920s. In 1919,an airplane company was formed. Then, in August of the same year, they flew the nation’s first interstate air freight shipment. By 1928, A municipal airport was built and an aircraft company was established.
In 1928, the Oklahoma City oilfield was discovered and started to produce huge quantities of oil. This field, along with the very big amount of petroleum from eastern Oklahoma, overwhelmed demand during the early years of The Great Depression. The price of oil fell compared to its peak of .50 in the 1920s to ten cents per barrel. Because of this, in 1931, the economic downturn of the nation started to be felt in Tulsa.
After World War II, an increase in offshore drilling operations that affected the petroleum industry started. Fortunately, the aircraft and aerospace industry was starting to flourish. American Airlines built a major maintenance center and SABRE reservation system relocated from New York to Tulsa. To this day, there are more than 300 aviation-related companies around Tulsa.
By 1970, another major means of transportation came. It was when the Tulsa Transport of Catoosa opened. By this means, Tulsa was linked with the rest of the world because of river navigation to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. These advancements have made Tulsa a very diverse city, full of several opportunities. Many national corporations, and international ones, have made their home in Tulsa.