APPALACHIA - A GHOST TOWN
If "Mr. Ghost came to Town" to hunt or haunt the former location of Appalachia he would find only a raised strip of broken concrete walk and a few shattered descending steps along the highway. This walk and others like it were once merry promenades in front of the rollicking saloons in the thirsty pre-statehood days.
Keystone, nineteen miles west of Tulsa, at the intersection of national Highway 64 and state highway number one, had been settled in 1893 rather sparsely but enough to give the Monarch Investment Company of Kansas City an idea. Why not a new town, boom town on the Oklahoma Territory side to satisfy the thirst of the growing population across in the Indian Territory where traffic in liquor was taboo?
So in 1903 the Monarch Investment Company bought two farms near the junction of the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers and converted them into town lots (they paid at the rate of $6000.00 per quarter section), and peddled them out at $20.00 per lot--or tried to. "Possibly twenty lots were sold," Sherman ACKLEY said.
A great barbecue was held. Gaudily dressed salesmen mingled with the merrymakers. But luck was not so good. Homes at the best were not much more than shacks, and most frequently tents. Not so the saloons. Soon there were seven of them flourishing. Some rather makeshift; some only in tents. So Appalachia was born. A name given in honor of the hills surrounding the district which reminded some of the old timers of their native eastern mountains. Since it was in Oklahoma Territory, its saloons could flourish. While a few hundred feet east and south of the new city was Indian Territory, where prohibition ruled. So when the thirsty throng heard of saloons so near at hand, they greeted the news with a stampede to Appalachia. Some came on horseback. Others jolted overland in wagons. The more prosperous arrived in buckboards drawn by spirited teams. The roads of the territory at that time were nothing more than trails.
Long wagon trains hauled supplies for the saloons from Pawnee, fifty miles away, but the nearest point on a railroad. More than a day and a half were required to make the trip of fifty miles.
With business booming, Appalachia confidently constructed a swinging bridge across the Cimarron--two cables stretched across then boarded for a foothold. Most of the men from the Indian Territory came from the south. Red Fork and Sapulpa, leading cities of the district, supplied most of the business. Parking their horses, buckboards and wagons on the south side of the Cimarron, the riders had a dizzy journey across the shaky bridge and oftener a dizzier journey back, if the cold waters of the river could tell the tale.
The most prosperous saloon on the Appalachia side was owned by Lee McAFEE, formerly a sheriff in Paris, Texas. Then came Joe WIERMAN, a deputy U.S. Marshal, on the scene to keep law and order in Appalachia. He looked the situation over and decided to open a saloon. Since most of the business came from south of the river he decided it would be wise to locate on that side and thus eliminate the risky trip across the swinging bridge. (INTERVIEW: February, 25, 1937 with Sherman ACKLEY)
Oklahoma Federation of Labor Collection, Western History
Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
Lewis Newton Pittman bought two lots in Appalachia for himself and his father.
Here are the original certificates of sale and
deed to lots in the city of
Click on documents to enlarge