Oklahoma’s First Capital

Photo by Elaine Warner

1890's charm with a side of history in Guthrie

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Guthrie was Oklahoma’s first capital city. With a “bang” the race was on as thousands of people, lined up along the borders of the Unassigned Lands, ran or rode the train, horses or bicycles for a piece of what would become central Oklahoma. Surveyors had already plotted out city lots in Guthrie and the town was born. That was April 22, 1889. By 1890, Guthrie had been declared the Territorial capital and substantial stone buildings replaced the early tents and later wooden structures.

Things rocked along at first but politics and city rivalries started to simmer then reached a boil. In 1910 the capital was moved, some say stolen, to Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City thrived; Guthrie didn’t. Like Sleeping Beauty, it quietly slipped into slumber, brick streets and stately buildings intact leaving what is now the largest contiguous historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.

Downtown Guthrie

Start your exploration at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum where you’ll get the lowdown on Guthrie’s history. Walk or drive downtown for a stop at the Oklahoma Frontier Drug Store Museum. From there it’s a short walk west to the Territorial Capital Sports Museum. These museums are all closed on Monday, so Tuesday through Saturday are the days to go.

If you’re more interested in shopping than museums, take this time to stroll the downtown streets. You’ll find antiques (or junque), boutiques, galleries and more mingled with the more mundane shops and offices.

If you time it right, you’ll be ready for lunch at Stables for a bit more history with your burger or ‘cue.

If your visit is on a week-day, head for the imposing building at the east end of Oklahoma – the Guthrie Scottish Rite Masonic Temple – for the 2 o’clock tour. If it’s Saturday, go to the corner of 2nd and Harrison to catch the 2 o’clock First Capital Trolley historic tour.

If you’re interested in lingering through the evening, check the schedule at the Pollard Theatre and Byron’s Music Hall at the Double Stop Fiddle Shop.

At A Glance

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