The history of Oklahoma, the 46th state, stems back to Spanish explorer Coronado and his search for the “Lost City of Gold.” The area eventually became part of the Louisiana Purchase and later, home to the Five Civilized Tribes — Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole. The history of Oklahoma City, however, is attributed to a single day in the annals of the country: April 22, 1889. On this day, more than 50,000 homesteaders rushed across the borders of the Unassigned Lands under the instruction of President Harrison. The empty prairies and plains were covered with settlers looking for a new life; those settlers who “jumped the gun” and crossed the border early were known as “Sooners,” the name that has remained when referring to Oklahoma residents.
Today, Oklahoma City is the state capital and an extraordinary metropolitan area waiting to be discovered by RVers and other travelers. (Check your Trailer Life RV Parks, Campgrounds & Services Directory for other campgrounds in addition to Rockwell RV Park below.) Nearby lakes, rivers and reservoirs plus forests and mountains beckon to the outdoor adventurer; in town, visitors will thrill to the Western atmosphere, the casual boots and cowboy hats, but they should not be mislead. Within the city, the arts are alive and well; entertainment includes Ballet Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Philharmonic Orchestra and an abundance of museums. Sports also abound; this is home to the Oklahoma Redhawks and the Blazers, and the city is part of the Big 12 South college conference (Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was just named the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner).
One special section of the city is a must-see; the historic warehouse district called Bricktown has been renovated into an exciting and entertaining attraction. Once the crossroads of commerce in the city, Bricktown housed operations for different railroad companies. The buildings constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s were made of red brick, thereby the name. Today, the Bricktown Canal runs through the area and the water taxi is the way to take advantage of the unusual setting; special events include Riverfest and the Canoe/Kayak Trials. The “Arts District” also invites visitors to sample the Myriad Gardens, the Civic Center Music Hall and the beautiful, but sad, Oklahoma City National Memorial. Optional transportation is available via the Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys; the Orange Line accesses most well-known attractions.
Another piece of history that helped to shape the Sooner State, and one that should be explored, is the history of the African-Americans who settled here, more than in any other state following the Civil War. From the Buffalo Soldiers to the farmers and ranchers, the black population helped to forge the future of the state, and nowhere is that more evident than in Bricktown where African-Americans built homes, schools, churches and music clubs. So appealing is Bricktown’s allure that 10 million visitors flock to its sites and happenings annually. For more information on the area, go to www.bricktownokc.org.