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An incorporated community in rural northwestern Osage County, Grainola is situated along State Highway 18, eleven miles north of Shidler and forty miles northwest of the Osage County seat of Pawhuska. Grainola originated as Salt Creek, a location along the Midland Valley Railway. Named for a nearby Arkansas River tributary, the Salt Creek post office opened in November 1906. The postal designation was changed to Grainola, an invented word, in March 1910. The Grainola townsite was established in autumn 1909. By November of that year the community had two grain elevators, a general store, and a lumberyard. A bank had been organized, and several businesses, including a hotel, were being planned. Cattle ranching and farming fueled the economy. Main crops were corn, wheat, oats, and hay. Two passenger-freight trains arrived and departed daily, and children attended a local school. A Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1920, a year in which the town had an estimated population of about five hundred. On Saturday nights residents watched silent films at a downtown theater. Grainola had no known newspaper.

Located north of the Burbank Oil Field, Grainola benefitted little from the Osage oil boom of the 1910s and 1920s. During the Great Depression the Works Progress Administration constructed a public school and a community well at Grainola. Despite the renewal the town's population fell from 197 in 1930 to 57 in 1950. By 1970 local children were attending school at Shidler and the Midland Valley track had been abandoned. In 1980, when Grainola had a population of 67, the town comprised thirty residences, two churches, two businesses, and a senior citizens center. Although there was oil field activity nearby, farming and ranching continued to support the economy. The town had 58 inhabitants in 1990 and 31 in 2000. In 2000 the nearest post office was at Shidler.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Grainola," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989). Osage County Profiles (Pawhuska, Okla.: Osage County Historical Society, 1978).

Jon D. May

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