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Calumet is situated in the northwestern part of Canadian County on an original section of Historic Route 66, fifteen miles northwest of El Reno. The town is also on U.S. Highway 270 and is five miles north of Interstate 40. In 1898 Reuben G. Shirk platted ten acres of his farm into a townsite in response to the construction of a depot on Willie Tyler's allotment by the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad. The Calumet post office, established in 1893 by Anna Cowdrey on her homestead about one and one-half miles south and one mile west of the present town, quickly moved to the new community. After four failed attempts, the town incorporated in 1942 in order to construct a city water system.

Agriculture provided the basis for Calumet's economy. In 1911 the town had three combination mills and elevators, in addition to two general, one furniture, and one hardware stores. In the mid-1920s U.S. Highway 66, known as Route 66, was constructed through Calumet. This transportation boom was short lived, as the 1932 realignment of the famed road bypassed the town. In the 1970s and early 1980s Calumet economically benefitted from the growth in area oil and gas fields, as well as the continued prosperity of local farms. While the oil and gas market collapsed in the mid-1980s, agriculture-related businesses continue to dominate.

In 1901 Calumet claimed a population of around 100. Shortly after 1907 statehood the town had almost 300 residents. By the end of the 1920s the community numbered 451, making it one of the larger towns in Canadian County. In 1940 the number fell to roughly 300. Increasing to 339 in 1950, the count remained under 400 until 1980 when it rose to 469. Growing by nearly one hundred persons, Calumet claimed 560 inhabitants in 1990. By 2000 the community population remained fairly stable at 535.

Between 1908 and 1942 the Calumet Chieftain served as the town newspaper. Other community newspapers included the Calumet Weekly Criterion (1908-1912), the Calumet Weekly Citizen (1946-1954), and the Calumet News (1967-72). At the end of the twentieth century the town operated under a commission form of government.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Calumet," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. History of Canadian County, Oklahoma (El Reno, Okla.: Canadian County History Book Association, 1991).

Cynthia Savage

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