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Owasso City

Owasso City Hall is located at 111 North Main Street, Owasso, OK 74055; phone: 918-376-1500.

Beginnings [1]

The City of Owasso is located just north of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the northern half of Tulsa County and the western portion of Rogers County. The community began as a small settlement in 1881, located in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. The city was founded near 66th Street North and North 129th East Avenue along the banks of Elm Creek, and was initially named Elm Creek. In June 1893, plans were drawn up for a rail line connecting Bartlesville to the cattle ranches in the vicinity of the new community. At that time Elm Creek (Owasso) had several residences, a blacksmith shop, and a general store. The first post office and postmaster was established on February 10, 1898 by Preston Ballard, owner of the general store. Another prominent family who settled in the area was the Joseph T. Barnes family, who moved to the settlement in 1897. Joseph and Luther Barnes bought and began operating the blacksmith shop in 1898. In 1902 the first gas station was opened by Donovan Ranta. The rail line to the town site was never built and as a result the location of present day Owasso was impacted.

Just as highway access is important today, railroads were major influential factors to communities in the 1800s and early 1900s and Owasso was no exception to this phenomenon. In 1897, the Kansas, Oklahoma Central & Southwestern Railway Company acquired right-of-way approximately three miles northwest of the Elm Creek settlement and dammed a natural spring near 86th St. North and Mingo Road to form a lake for a water supply for the railroad engines. Approximately one mile to the south of the newly impounded lake, the railroad company built Owasso's first train depot. This development essentially caused the original town settlement of Elm Creek to relocate to the new location. Late in 1898, Joseph and Luther Barnes moved their blacksmith shop and families to the new community and became the first local citizens to officially move to the new depot community. During 1898, many other residents and businesses moved from the Elm Creek settlement to the new community. Since the post office retained the name of Elm Creek, the new community also retained the name.

The railroad completed its line in 1899 and its parent company, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company (ATSF), took over the line and property. The first train arrived in Elm Creek on November 1, 1899 and as the land around the end of this railroad line developed, the Osage Indian word Owasso, meaning "the end of the trail" or "turn around", was adopted to identify the area because the rail line ended in a turnaround "Y" near the depot. The name stuck and the name Elm Creek was changed to Owasso on January 24, 1900. In 1905, the rail was extended into Tulsa, which offered Owasso a connection to a larger regional city.

When Oklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907, Owasso had a population of 379 within the town limits. The Owasso Ledger, first published on August 7, 1903 by U. P. Wardrip, was the first newspaper with a subscription price of $1.00 per year (to be paid in advance.) On February 6, 1905 the Pioneer Telephone and Telegraph Company was granted a franchise to operate the first telephone service in the community and became the town's first telephone exchange. Prior to the construction of the town's first water tower in 1924, water was brought into town in barrels from the Owasso Lake and sold for 50 cents a barrel.

On March 26, 1904 the plat of the original town site of Owasso, Cherokee Nation, was signed by the Secretary of the Interior in concert with the town's incorporation. That plat shows three streets running north and south and eight streets running east and west, with the north/south streets named Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The east/west streets north of what is now Broadway were named for Union generals, while the east/west streets to the south were named for Confederate generals. These names were changed around 1960 with the east/west streets identified by numbers, and north/south streets named after trees. Owasso officially became a chartered city on September 28, 1972.

  1. City of Owasso, Oklahoma, Land Use Master Plan, 2014,, accessed August, 2015.
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