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FORT SUPPLY

Fort Supply is located in the northwestern corner of Woodward County thirteen miles northwest of the county seat of Woodward. The first post office was established on May 12, 1903. On May 1, 1943, the name of the post office and town was changed to Fort Supply. Founder James P. Gandy, a territorial legislator, originally named the town Supply after the frontier military post (1868-94) located one mile east of the townsite. Rancher H. H. Halsell sold the land to Gandy who had it platted for a townsite in 1903. Most of the original buildings of Supply were moved from the failed town site of Fitzgerald, which had been established two miles southwest in 1902.

Fort Supply, Oklahoma - Street scene in front of York-Key Mercantile

In the early years Supply was the economic center for area farmers and ranchers. In 1908 the old army post east of the town became Western Oklahoma Hospital, Oklahoma's first state-operated mental institution. The Flood Control Act of 1936 provided that a dam and reservoir be constructed one mile southeast of the town in the valley of Wolf Creek. Work began in October 1938 and was completed in May 1942. At the time, it was the largest earthen dam in the United States. Fort Supply Lake and the adjacent wildlife and recreation area are administered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Fort Supply's population at 1907 statehood numbered 783; by 1980 the number had declined to 559 and in the year 2000 stood at 328. At the end of the twentieth century, the community's economic base remained grounded in agriculture and employment at the Western State Psychiatric Center and William S. Key Correctional Center, located on the grounds of nearby historic Fort Supply.

SEE ALSO: MILITARY—NINETEENTH CENTURY, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Robert Barron, "Building Fort Supply Dam was Economic Boost in the '30s," Woodward (Oklahoma) News, 18 June 1989. Louise B. James, Below Devil's Gap: The Story of Woodward County (Perkins, Okla.: Evans Publications, 1984). C. L. Packer, "Mr. Fort Supply," Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 28 May 1967. George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (2d ed.; Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1974).

Bob Rea

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