On the morning of April 22, 1889 an estimated 50,000 individuals (many families) lined up for the chance to grab 160 acres of newly opened land that today makes up much of Oklahoma. The land, previously Indian, was thought to be some of the nation’s best unoccupied property.
When the lands legally opened at noon, the men hee-ya’d their horses forward, their children’s and wives’ white knuckles wrapped hard around whatever was within reach; unsecured sheets and clothing flew from the rear of wagons; and pots clanged together struggling against the ropes securing them. Photos from the time show dust fluttering up from under hoof as families rushed to their destiny.
By sundown, literally seven hours later, Oklahoma City and Guthrie had both gone from zero residents to over 10,000 inhabitants. Both newly minted metropolises already had streets defined, properties staked off and municipal governments set in motion.
The photos of the time, however, do not do justice to the scene that day, but the Oklahoma Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City. Designed by Paul Moore, a fifth generation Oklahoman, the monument will include 45 bronze figures of land run participants. At 1 ½ times life size, the figures that have been installed are really amazing. It was raining, but I was at least able to grab this one photo.