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MARLAND

Situated in Noble County on State Highway 156 twelve miles due east of Interstate 35 and approximately twenty-three miles north-northeast of Perry, Marland, formerly Bliss, developed as a shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The town has had three incarnations, the first two as Bliss. The surrounding region, primarily grassland and formerly part of the Ponca Reservation, was leased for grazing by the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch. At the Santa Fe tracks on the edge of their ranch, the Millers built stockyards and other facilities for shipping cattle. South of that location a small rural community grew up circa 1898 in Section 24 of Buffalo Township, where there came to be a lumberyard, a general store, and a few residents by 1900. Grain elevators were erected at the tracks in 1904. Ranch correspondence and advertising generally used "Bliss" or "Bliss Station" as the Miller's home base. In the early years of the century the brothers held various Wild West shows at the ranch's summer camp near Bliss Station. Visitors took the train to the depot that Santa Fe built there.

In early 1906 the Millers platted a town on the east side of the railroad and sold town lots that summer. Businesses that had been located south of there, at the existing community, moved northwest to the railroad. Buffalo Township's population stood at 326 at 1907 statehood and by 1910 had risen to 380. Bliss claimed 200 residents in that year. One of the largest businesses was Miller Brothers Livestock, Grain, and Hay, but a bank, two other grain dealers, two hotels, and several stores also operated.

In 1917 the Millers decided to move the town a mile north, to the other side of the tracks. They platted "New Bliss" there. By that time the population had reached 250, and the town supported a good number of businesses, most catering to the area's farming-based economy. The Marland-Red Rock Record printed the news. The town shipped more wheat, corn, and livestock that any other shipping point in the county for a number of years. Three ranches, the 101, the Big V, and the Big L, used the stockyards facilities. Because of petroleum exploration in the region after 1916, oil-field supply shipping also became important until the boom ended in the late 1920s.

In an April 1922 election the citizens voted to rename the town Marland, to honor oilman Ernest W. Marland of nearby Ponca City, who had extensive drilling operations in the nearby Three Sands/Tonkawa Field. The Millers and the townspeople hoped that he would locate some of his oil operations at Bliss/Marland, but the only Marland Oil Company presence that ever developed there was a loading rack where a pipeline terminated at railroad. In 1923 disappointed citizens petitioned, unsuccessfully, for a return to "Bliss," because mail bound for Marland was being misrouted to Mooreland. In 1925 the town supported two elevators, two lumberyards, two hotels, Methodist and Christian churches, and the Marland Consolidated School.

By 1930, 361 people called the little town home, but the Great Depression of the 1930s bankrupted the Miller Brothers ranch and the Three Sands Field went dry. Hard circumstances thereby reduced the town to 257 residents in 1940, 221 in 1950, and 191 in 1960. An upswing in the oil industry in the 1970s brought people back to the area, and by 1980 the U.S. Census registered a population of 340. In 1990 and 2000 it held steady at 280. Most residents work elsewhere, many in Perry.

SEE ALSO: MILLER BROTHERS 101 RANCH, PETROLEUM, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Allen D. Fitchett, "History of Noble County, Oklahoma" (M.A. thesis, Colorado State College, 1938). "Marland," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Noble County Genealogical Society, History of Noble County, Oklahoma, Vol. 1 (Norman, Okla.: Privately printed, 1987). Michael Wallis, The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000).

Dianna Everett

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