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Cushing City

Cushing City Hall is located at 100 Judy Adams Boulevard, Cushing, OK 74023; phone: 918-225-2394.

Beginnings [1]

Cushing, Oklahoma, is located in Payne County, once a portion of the Sac and Fox Reservation. The land run into the Sac and Fox area, which took place in September 1891, was the beginning of organized settlement in the Cushing area. William Little, a land claimant, began subdividing eighty acres of his claim, and a post office was established in November 1891. Cushing quickly became the center of an agricultural region and supplied various typical services for the surrounding farming community. Cotton, the principal crop, was important, and cotton buyers, cotton gins, and associated industries developed. Corn and cattle ranked second and third in production. In 1902 rail service was provided. By 1910 the town boasted a population of 1,072. Agriculture has remained a significant aspect of life for the area's occupants, despite economic ups and downs provided by the petroleum industry during the rest of the twentieth century.

In 1912 came an seminal event: Oil was discovered on a nearby farm by legendary wildcatter Tom Slick. Cushing experienced a boom that would forever impact the town's development and would dictate its eventual decline. Within months of the discovery the town grew to 6,000 inhabitants, some permanent, some not. With "flush production" in the pre-World War I years, Cushing became known as "the refinery city," and boasted thirty oil producers and nine refineries. Pipeline construction converged in Cushing over the next few decades, and the area came to have one of the largest tank storage farms in the nation. A common name for the community was "pipeline capital of the nation." By the 1950s the town's economy was supported by 179 industries, of which 112 were petroleum-related. Cushing's population in 1920 was officially recorded at 6,326 and in 1930, the peak year, at 9,301, followed by a very gradual decline through 1950. Throughout the first decades of its existence Cushing developed as a typical community of the day. A commercial district developed along Main and then along Broadway and grew very large during the oil boom. Typical businesses, like all towns of the era, included groceries, drugs stores, lumber yards, banks, newspapers, and so forth. Dozens of brick western commercial-style buildings were built in a several-block area to house these economic activities. Churches, schools, and theaters, parks, and social club meeting halls also met these various needs of the citizens. Public services were provided, including paved streets, water systems, and electric and telephone facilities. A large residential area developed east and south and later west of the downtown commercial district and continued to grow through the 1950s.

  1. Diana Everett, Public Historian and Consultant, Cushing American Legion Building, Payne County, OK, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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