We know that the beloved Fort Sill is a National Historic Landmark. That’s a designation of buildings, sites, structures and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture. Many of the most historic properties in the entire nation such as Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbor, Alcatraz, the Apollo Mission Control Center and Martin Luther King’s birthplace are examples of the some 2,600 such landmarks in the United States, and the process for selection is both rigorous and time consuming. We should be proud to have one in Comanche County, though there are 22 in Oklahoma. With COVID-19 reducing extensive travel, a goal of visiting all 22 is both reasonable and should be fun. Here they are:
1. The 101 Ranch Historic District is the ranch at Ponca City where rodeo bull-dogging became an art form.
2. Bizzell Library. The OU Library, the focus of the racial segregation Supreme Court case.
3. Boley Historic District. Founded in 1903, the all black town made possible by segregationist policies.
4. Cherokee National Capitol. In Tahlequah, the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation from 1869 to 1907, when Oklahoma became a state.
5. Creek National Capitol. The Capitol of the Creek Nation from 1878 to 1907; now a museum.
6. Camp Nichols. In Cimarron County, the ruin of a fort built by Kit Carson to protect the Santa Fe Trail from hostile Kiowa and Apache.
7. Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church South. One of the best cases of Art Deco architecture in the United States.
8. The Murrell House. A magnificent house built in Cherokee County.
9. Deer Creek Site. In Kay County, this archeological site of a fortified Wichita Village
10. The McLemore Site. An archeological site in Washita County.
11. Fort Gibson. The Fort built in 1824 in Indian Territory.
12. The Marland Mansion. In Ponca City, the magnificent home of Oklahoma politician Ernest Whitworth Marland.
13. Fort Washita. Established in 1824 to protect the Choctaws and Chickasaws from the plains Indians.
14. The Honey Springs Battlefield. Site of a Civil War batter known for its preponderance of non-white combatants on both sides.
15. Guthrie Historic District. Downtown Guthrie today. A great place to visit.
16. Wheelock Academy. In McCurtain County, originally a mission school for Choctaw girls, this became an academy and a model for other academies of the five civilized nations.
17. Platt National Historic District. A square mile sold by the Chickasaw Nation to the federal government for park use in 1902.
18. Washita Battlefield. Near Cheyenne, where George Custer led the Seventh Cavalry surprise attack on the village of the Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle in 1868.
19. Price Tower. A Frank Lloyd Wright designed building in Bartlesville, it is his only realized skyscraper design completed in 1956.
20. Stamper Site. An archeological site in Texas County.
21. Sequoyah’s Cabin. In the county by his name, it is Sequoyah’s log cabin. He created the written language for the Cherokee.
And then there is Fort Sill. Twenty-one marvelous sites, but I’ll take the 22nd, Fort Sill, every time!
Lee Baxter is a former commanding general of Fort Sill.