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Payne County, OK

Payne CountyThe opening of the Cherokee Outlet to settlement was enevitable, but it took over 10 years to bring it to a legal reality. David L. Payne is sometimes been referred to as "Oklahoma's Moses", as his attempts to bring homesteaders into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma were praised and honored by giving the county his name.

In the 1870s and 1880s, several attempts at Boomer settlements were made in the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma to force the Federal Government to open the territory to homesteaders. The territory was called the Unassigned Lands because the tribes were no longer assigned there when their land had been purchased from the Creeks and Seminoles 13 years prior.

In December 1884, one such attempt resulted in an encampment called Stillwater. The colonists built crude log cabins and dugouts to shelter them from the winter cold. Less than a month after their arrival at the Stillwater site, Federal troops forced them to return to Kansas.

Despite this last failure, the actions of the colonists and growing public sentiment led to the eventual opening of the territory in 1889. On April 22, 1889, the Land Run into the Unassigned Land occurred. By the end of the day, 240 acres had been claimed in the Stillwater township and the population of the tent city numbered 300.

The activity of Payne and his followers kept the issue in the public's eye and hastened the action of government acknowledgement. Payne aparently dreamed of settling in the new land, but died before his victory was achieved. He was buried in Wellington, Kansas, when in 1995, Oklahoma removed his remains and reinterred them in Stillwater

Although the location at the junction of Stillwater and Boomer creeks had been a choice destination for the Boomers, it was a less than an optimum site for an actual town. Stillwater was miles from any railroad, a life line for supplies and new people.

The new residents immediately laid out plans to ensure the town's survival. Several settlers who homesteaded in and near Stillwater had received some education at land-grant colleges. They were aware of the importance of education for the new territory and recognized the government's financial support which the college would receive.

The Oklahoma Territorial legislature was to decide which counties in the territory would become locations for various institutions. The land-grant college was such a choice plum that Stillwater and county residents lobbied for placing the college in Payne County. The two towns in the county considered for the college were Stillwater and Perkins.

Explore Payne County

Oklahoma State University Tours

Oklahoma State University's main campus in Stillwater enrolls approximately 20,000 students in 8

Stillwater, OK Tours

National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum

America's shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, is a focal point for the past, the present and the future. It preserves the heritage of the sport, celebrates new achievements, and encourages the youth of our land to aspire to lofty goals.

Stillwater, OK Halls of Fame

The Washington Irving Trail Museum

Follow the Washington Irving Trail and discover the history behind some of Oklahoma's most dramatic events! You will be pleasantly surprised when you discover one of Oklahoma's best-kept secrets -- an off-the-beaten-path museum filled with exhibits about Oklahoma's fascinating past. You'

Stillwater, OK Museums

Gardiner Art Gallery

The departmental art gallery first opened in 1965

Stillwater, OK Arts

Big 12 Sports

No major comprehensive university is complete without sports, and OSU boasts a record 42 national championships - the fourth most titles in NCAA history. As a member of the Big 12

Stillwater, OK Sports

David Lewis Payne Memorial Monument

A historical monument dedicated to David Lewis Payne, who was known for his efforts to open the unassigned lands to settlement during the 1880s, was dedicated on April 20, 1996

Stillwater, OK Monuments

Historical Markers

Land Runs Boundary Line

The big land runs of 1889 and 1893

Stillwater, OK Historical Markers

Kameoka Trail

Dedicated in the name of Stillwater's sister city in Kameoka, Japan, this trial is perfect for walking, jogging, and biking.

Stillwater, OK Hiking Trails

Oklahoma Museum of Higher Education

Old Central is on the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest building on campus, several rooms have been restored to look as they did in 1894

Stillwater, OK Museums

Pleasant Valley School

Pleasant Valley School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest one room school still in operation in Oklahoma. On September 11, 1899, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Zuck sold the property on the southeast corner of 19th and Sangre Road to the Board of Education for $5

Stillwater, OK Historic Schoolhouses


Eskimo Joe's Restaurant & Clothes World Hdqrtrs.

Eskimo Joe's is the home of the world's best cheese fries and Oklahoma's favorite T-shirt described by the TV program 20/20 as a "World Collection." Most people don't realize that Eskimo Joe's T-shirts are printed in Stillwater in a 15,000

Stillwater, OK Tours

Explore Payne County