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Antlers, Oklahoma
—  City  —
Antlers historic train station
Nickname(s): Deer Capital of the World
Location of Antlers, Oklahoma
Coordinates: 34°13′52″N 95°37′15″W / 34.23111°N 95.62083°W / 34.23111; -95.62083Coordinates: 34°13′52″N 95°37′15″W / 34.23111°N 95.62083°W / 34.23111; -95.62083
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Pushmataha
 - Total 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Land 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 512 ft (156 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 2,552
 Density 931.1/sq mi (359.5/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 74523
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-02250[1]
GNIS feature ID 1089664[2]

Antlers is a city in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. The population was 2,552 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pushmataha County[3].



Antlers is located at 34°13′52″N 95°37′15″W / 34.23111°N 95.62083°W / 34.23111; -95.62083 (34.230986, -95.620911)[4]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.1 km²), all of it land.

The historic center of Antlers—not counting its newly expanded city limits—straddles at least two watersheds. Rain falling in the northeast part of town drains into creeks flowing northward directly into the Kiamichi River. This soil is rocky, with bedrock near the surface. Water falling elsewhere in the town drains into creeks draining southward into Beaver Creek, which flows to the Kiamichi River. This soil is sandy. Standpipe Hill—which overlooks downtown Antlers—stands considerably higher, and features picturesque views to the north into the Kiamichi River valley.

Fact Sheet

The city has three hotels: Sportsman Inn & Suites, Budget Inn, and the newest, Hiway Inn & Suites.

There four schools, total: Brantly Elementary (Grades K-2), Vegher Elementary (Grades 3-5), Obuch Middle School (Grades 6-8), and Antlers High School (9-12).

Until 2008, Antlers was home to the only red light in Pushmataha County. Even now, it has the only two traffic signals in the entire county.


Evidence abounds of prehistoric activity within the city limits of present-day Antlers. Arrowheads wash up continually over time at sites throughout the town. Most of the sites are well-watered sites atop hills, which the prehistoric inhabitants found the most healthful.

Antlers and the rest of the Kiamichi River valley fell squarely within the realm of the powerful American Indian culture based at Spiro Mounds. The Mississippian culture based there controlled a large portion of southeastern Oklahoma and adjacent states.

More recently nomadic Caddo Indians roamed the area. Rarely establishing permanent villages, they were highly mobile and hunted and fished across the region.

The area that is now Antlers was granted to the Choctaw Indians in 1832 by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Map of the Indian Territory made in 1887, just after Antlers was founded. It was deemed too small to warrant being placed on the map.

During the 1880s the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, more popularly known as the “Frisco”, built a line from north to south through the Choctaw Nation, connecting Fort Smith, Arkansas with Paris, Texas. The railroad paralleled the Kiamichi River throughout much of its route in present-day Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. Train stations were established every few miles to aid in opening up the land and, more particularly, to serve as the locations of section houses. Supervisors for their respective miles of track lived in the section houses to administer the track and its right-of-way. These stations also served as points at which the trains could draw water.

The site of Antlers was selected because of an excellent spring which furnished a good supply of fresh water. Adjacent station stops were established at Davenport—now Kellond, Oklahoma—to the north, and Hamden, Oklahoma to the south.

The sparsely-populated area, at that time known as Jack’s Fork County of the Choctaw Nation, in the Indian Territory, was home to Choctaw Indians who farmed or subsisted on the land.

Few roads or trails existed. Transportation was provided by the Frisco Railroad, which offered six trains per day—three in each direction—until it closed to passenger traffic during the late 1950s. It continued freight operations until 1981, when it closed altogether and its rails were removed. The loss of passenger rail fortunately coincided with the construction of several highways linking Antlers to other communities, including U.S. Highway 271, Oklahoma State Highway 7, and Oklahoma State Highway 2.

Antlers was given its name due to the presence of large antlers, or the horns of bucks, nailed to nearby trees, ostensibly to mark the site of the spring. Its vitality caused a United States Post Office to be established at Antlers, Indian Territory on August 26, 1887. According to early settler—and probably first businessman—Colonel Victor M. Locke, Jr., a hunter was encamped at the site of the spring at present-day Antlers early one autumn and killed a “magnificent buck.” He nailed its antlers on a tree by the spring as a challenge to other hunters, who followed suit. Railroad officials later designated their new station stop as “Antlers” in recognition of this prominent local landmark.[5]

American settlers from the United States lived in Antlers and surrounding areas at the pleasure and discretion of the Choctaw government. It afforded them no protections or government services of any kind, and during the 1890s the U.S. government acted to provide a minimal level of support. It established Recording Districts throughout all Five Civilized Tribes of the Indian Territory. Antlers became Record Town of Recording District #24, which covered almost all of present-day Pushmataha, Choctaw and McCurtain counties. American citizens living in this area now had the rudiments of a justice system available.

This 1905 map shows Recording District #24, one of several established in the Indian Territory during the 1890s by the Federal Government to provide a justice system for white residents. Antlers was judicial seat, and hosted a U.S. Court. District #24 extended all the way to the Arkansas border.

To support the needs of a Record Town, a United States Court was established at Antlers. A large wooden courthouse was built to accommodate the justices, lawyers and courtroom facilities necessary, and Antlers became home to a small government outpost. During the waning days of the Indian Territory the Republican Party was in power in Washington, D.C., so the justices, sheriffs, deputies, and court clerks were all Republican. Local residents, being from former Confederate States, were almost all Democrats.

In order to prepare for Oklahoma’s statehood the U.S. Government surveyed and plotted every town of significance. Antlers was surveyed in 1901 and a townsite of 182 acres was mapped. Once the area was included in a state, residents could establish formal ownership of their homes and property.

Upon the advent of Oklahoma’s statehood on November 16, 1907 the Choctaw Nation, and the Indian Territory, ceased to exist. Antlers lost its prized status as a United States Court town and the complexion of the town’s population changed as those who worked in the “cottage industry” which had arisen to support the Court left in pursuit of other employment.

Antlers’ next incarnation was, to some degree, that of a resort town. The town served as a convenient gateway to the Kiamichi Mountains, and many tourists and vacationers came regularly and routinely to fish, hunt, and relax in the town and nearby mountains. Many came from Paris, Texas.

Slow but sustained growth was to be the order of the day for the next several decades, until April 12, 1945. During the late afternoon of that day Antlers was devastated by a powerful tornado. It came into town from the southwest, bearing northeast. It destroyed stores and homes in a wide swath, including stores and shops at the south end of High Street.

Sixty-seven residents were killed, and over 300 injured. Antlers High School was established as a makeshift morgue to receive bodies. Perhaps the most significant destruction occurred in the 300 block of East Main Street, where the large and historic St. Agnes Academy for Choctaw Indians was completely destroyed. Miraculously, only two lives were lost: nuns who were killed by a falling chimney. The students, however, survived.

U.S. Army troops were dispatched from Camp Maxey, Texas, a World War II-era army base located between Paris and Arthur City, Texas. The troops assisted with rescue, maintaining law and order, and clearing rubble.

Meteorologists have since retroactively categorized the Antlers tornado as an F5 on the Fujita Scale. An F5 storm is the most powerful storm possible. Local residents believed there were actually two tornados striking the town, as they could see two funnels. The Antlers tornado funnel measured a half-mile wide at its base, and the two funnel clouds observed locally were within the larger one. The Antlers F5 was so powerful that it could be clearly heard, as well as seen, four miles east of town at the Ethel Road crossroads, and as far north as Kosoma.[6]

After 1945 the town enjoyed the general prosperity experienced by the United States at large. With the advent of universal electrical service most homes came to have air-conditioning, and later almost all had televisions. Social relations changed at this point as individuals and families found their entertainment indoors, rather than outdoors or downtown.

During the 1950s highways linking Antlers with towns in every direction were paved, making transportation easy and efficient. This development coincided with Antlers losing passenger rail service in the late 1950s, when the Frisco Railroad ceased carrying passengers. Freight service continued until the railroad ceased all operations in 1981.

The biggest change of the post-war years occurred in 1975, when R.C. Pruett opened East Town Village on the eastern outskirts of Antlers. In doing so he mirrored a trend seen in almost every town across the country—major retailers relocated from historic downtowns to larger facilities on their outskirts. Pruett’s grocery store was a new one, but within a few years merchants began deserting Antlers’ historic downtown for East Town Village or other locations, or closing altogether.

At the same time, Antlers residents began shopping at Wal-Mart, a large-pad retailer with a large store in Hugo, Oklahoma. Offering “everyday low prices”, Wal-Mart offered greater variety at lower prices than Antlers merchants were able, and to this day many of its customers come from Antlers.

In recent years a move has been afoot to declare Antlers a “Main Street USA” site. Main Street USA, a program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has proven successful elsewhere in Oklahoma and the United States. Its goals are to assist Antlers merchants in recreating their downtown as a “destination”, with attractive plantings and flowers, street furniture, and economic vitality.

Due to a series of fires beginning in the 1970s – some of them arson – Antlers lost a number of its stores, reducing the character of its downtown. The buildings which remain are handsome, sturdy brick buildings with impressive facades. In recent years merchants have been taking down the 1960s-era awnings and other structures, bringing to light a wealth of architectural details.

During recent years the Antlers Frisco Depot and Antlers Spring have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of their contribution to the architecture and history of the town. The very architecture of the depot, built in 1913 with separate waiting rooms and toilets for white passengers and black passengers, pays homage to an earlier era in which racial inequality and lack of civil rights was institutionalized into the very architecture of public buildings. As such, the depot is as interesting as many of the historical exhibits it contains.

More information on the history of Antlers may be found in the Pushmataha County Historical Society.




Climate data for Antlers, Oklahoma
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 52.5
Average low °F (°C) 27.8
Precipitation inches (mm) 2
Source: [7] March 13, 2010


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 2,552 people, 1,068 households, and two families residing in the city. The population density was 931.1 people per square mile (359.6/km²). There were 1,260 housing units at an average density of 459.7/sq mi (177.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.13% White, 1.84% African American, 14.93% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 4.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.76% of the population.

There were 1,068 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 78.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,594, and the median income for a family was $22,684. Males had a median income of $23,958 versus $16,688 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,285. About 28.9% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.7% of those under age 18 and 23.2% of those age 65 or over.

Part of historic downtown Antlers

Notable natives


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ “Colonel Victor M. Locke, Jr.”, Indian-Pioneer Papers, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
  6. ^ Reminiscence of Ms. Myrtle Ashford Edmond, whose school bus stopped at the crossroads four miles east of Antlers. The children all got off the bus to look at and listen to the storm as it struck Antlers. At Kosoma housewife Minona Akins heard the storm but could not attribute it to its source until learning the news the next day.
  7. ^ [Antlers "Historical Weather for Antlers, Oklahoma, United States"]. Antlers. 

External links

Simple English

Antlers, Oklahoma
—  City  —
Nickname(s): Deer Capital of the World
Coordinates: 34°13′52″N 95°37′15″W / 34.23111°N 95.62083°W / 34.23111; -95.62083
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Pushmataha
 - Total 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Land 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 512 ft (156 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 2,552
 Density 931.1/sq mi (359.5/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 74523
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-02250[1]
GNIS feature ID 1089664[2]

Antlers is a city of Oklahoma in the United States.



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