Located ten miles north of Altus at the intersection of U.S. Highway 283 and State Highways 6 and 19, Blair is situated in northern Jackson County, which was originally part of Old Greer County. This region is known for its rich irrigated cotton land and its early history steeped in stories about the Great Western Trail. In 1876 veteran cowboy Lewis Warren Neatherlin reported about life on the trail and the lush valley near present day Blair.
B. B. Zinn, a seventeen-year-old cowhand, passed through this area in 1884 on a cattle drive. As a married man he returned in 1892 and opened a general store with a post office named after his daughter, Dot, in 1893. The town was established August 26, 1901, and the name was changed to Blair, for John A. Blair, an official of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway, which built a line through Blair around 1907. By 1910 population stood at 508, and the town served as a trade center for a surrounding agricultural area.
Damaging tornados struck Blair in 1912, 1928, and 1949. The 1928 storm destroyed the school and left hundreds homeless. The town recovered and built a new school with a safe underground shelter. By 1930 Blair had three cotton gins, a grain elevator, and a hotel. Blair and Altus community leaders worked together to acquire federal funding for an irrigation project which resulted in the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District completed in 1947-48. Cotton, the primary crop, accounts for the area's agricultural prosperity. Blair's population peaked at 1,114 in 1970. At the turn of the twenty-first century Blair, with 894 residents, attracted retirees, military families from Altus Air Force Base, and others who preferred small-town life and culture.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Altus (Oklahoma) Times, 16 April 2000. Monroe Billington, "W. C. Austin Irrigation Project," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 30 (Summer 1952). "Blair," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Cecil R. Chesser, Across the Lonely Years: The Story of Jackson County (Altus, Okla.: Altus Printing Co., 1971). Leo Kelley, ed., "Up the Trail in '76: The Journal of Lewis Warren Neatherlin," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 66 (Spring 1988).
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