Located in Washita County, Burns Flat is ten miles west and four miles north of Cordell on State Highway 44. The town first developed around the Burns Flat school. In 1929 three school districts merged and established Burns Flat Consolidated School District Number Seven. On February 28, 1936, Post Office Department commissioned the Burns Flat post office, the last one to be established in Washita County. The community took its name from the area's flatness and a former post office designated Burns, which had been established in 1894 and discontinued in 1904. Burns was located two miles south of present Burns Flat.
The town grew quickly during World War II, when the federal government acquired four square miles of farm land and established the Clinton Sherman Naval Air Station. The naval base was closed after the war. However, it was reopened in the 1950s as the Clinton Sherman Air Force Base. The military built one of the longest runways in the United States and established a large, permanent housing development, increasing Burns Flat's population. In 1960 the U.S. Census counted 2,280 residents. In 1969 the Air Force closed the base, and in the 1970s it became the Clinton-Sherman Industrial Air Park. By the mid-1970s the airpark had attracted nine manufacturing firms, two field servicing companies, and fourteen other commercial enterprises. The Western Technology Center, a five-county vocational school, was also established on the grounds. In 1980 the population stood at 2,431, but it declined to 1,782 in 2000.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cordell (Oklahoma) Beacon, 18 April 1984 and 27 August 1996. Carl Jones, Development of Washita County School Districts, 1892-1951, and Financing 1940-1952 (N.p.: Carl Jones, 1952).
© Oklahoma Historical Society