Located in Jackson County, Eldorado is situated on State Highway 6, seven miles north of the Red River. The name Eldorado, a Spanish word meaning "the gilded one" and popularized to refer to a place of wealth, was suggested by Walter Thompson, a school teacher. The post office, established on September 1, 1890, was located approximately one mile southwest of its present location. The town's site shifted several times before it permanently located to take advantage of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway line being constructed between Quanah, Texas, and Oklahoma City. Eldorado's townsite plat was filed in Mangum, Old Greer County, Oklahoma Territory, on April 21, 1902. The railroad was completed February 7, 1903, and the town was incorporated on April 19, 1904.
In 1901 James Scarborough founded the first newspaper, the Eldorado Light. The paper's name changed to the Courier Light and later to the Eldorado Courier. Early schools were a one-room, rock school, a frame building (1902-1905), a two-story, brick building (1904-36), a high school building (1922-54), and an elementary school building (1938-present). With 926 residents in Eldorado in 1910, school enrollment reached four hundred students by 1912. After 1907 statehood Eldorado had 916 residents. Citizens patronized three churches (Baptist, Methodist, Christian), two banks, two newspapers, hardware stores, a furniture shop, several hotels and restaurants, three cotton gins, feed stores, livery stables, and an opera house. Past industries have included clothing, candy, and several boat factories, copper mining, and the United States Gypsum Company, which employed seventy-five individuals in 1930.
Population peaked at 1,183 in 1930. Three years later Dr. J. (Jess) Willis Stovall of the University of Oklahoma discovered Columbian mammoth bones northwest of Eldorado. The bones are exhibited at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, at Norman, Oklahoma. The surrounding agricultural area is adapted to growing cotton, wheat, and alfalfa, and to raising cattle. Early on, the farmers formed the Eldorado Farmers' Cooperative Association. At the turn of the turn of the twenty-first century Eldorado had 527 residents.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cecil R. Chesser, Across the Lonely Years: The Story of Jackson County (Altus, Okla.: Altus Printing Co., 1971). Eldorado (Oklahoma) Light, 18 July 1902. "Eldorado," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
© Oklahoma Historical Society