Located in Rogers County at the southern terminus of State Highway 88, Inola lies twenty-eight miles east of Tulsa. For most of the nineteenth century the area was situated in the northeastern portion of the Creek Nation. In 1889 the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway (eventually the Missouri Pacific Railway) laid tracks from Wagoner through the region to the Kansas line. In March 1890 Inola, which translates to English from Cherokee as "Black Fox," received a postal designation, with George Black as postmaster. The post office was discontinued in September 1890 but reestablished in April 1891. In 1901 the estimated population was one hundred residents, and two general stores, a blacksmith, two livestock dealers, and a physician served the community. In 1902 the Dawes Commission had the town surveyed and platted, prior to the Creek allotment.
In 1906 M. J. Phillippe founded the Inola Register, the town's first newspaper. Later journals included the Inola News and the Inola Independent. In 1910 the population stood at 405. In 1911 a bank, two hotels, eight general stores, a drugstore, a hardware store, a lumberyard, a blacksmith, a tinsmith, and a school system, with eleven teachers, functioned in the town. The community benefitted from the area's agriculture, oil production, and coal mining. Strip mining of coal resources occurred prior to 1907 statehood,and continued to be the prominent means of extraction. By 1920 the population had climbed to 498, but it declined to 398 in 1930. In 1940 the number of residents was 395. As the coal industry depreciated and a rural-to-urban shift developed after World War II, the population fell to 294 in 1950. In 1955 the town had three grocery stores, three general stores, a hardware store, a drugstore, an ice plant, two gas stations, and a garage.
For the rest of the twentieth century the population boomed, with the town emerging as a "bedroom" community for Tulsa. In 1960 the population was 584, climbing to 948 in 1970. In 1973 the Public Service Company of Oklahoma initiated its plans for a nuclear reactor near Inola. That year the town began the process to annex the land that would house the plant. The proposed reactor, which was named the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant, generated local and regional protest. In 1982 the electric company discontinued construction and abandoned its plans. In 1980 Inola's population had reached 1,550, and in 2000 it stood at 1,589. That year the school district (grades prekindergarten through twelve) enrolled 1,337 students.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carrie Barefoot Dickerson and Patricia Lemon, Aunt Carrie's War Against Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant (Tulsa, Okla.: Council Oak Publishing Co., 1995). Kvetuse Frieda Dueben, The Story of Inola (N.p.: N.p., 1977). The History of Rogers County, Oklahoma (Claremore, Okla.: Claremore College Foundation, 1979).
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