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Also known as Osage City, Osage is an incorporated town in southern Osage County. Accessed by County Road D0472, the Lake Keystone community lies about thirty-one miles south of the Osage County seat of Pawhuska and seven miles east of Cleveland. It originated as a division point on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (MK&T). Track completed between 1902 and 1904 linked Osage with Oklahoma City, Muskogee, and Parsons, Kansas. At Osage the MK&T employed roughly two hundred workers, many of whom resided in boxcars, and operated a depot, a roundhouse, and a hotel. Ten passenger trains arrived daily. The Osage post office was established in November 1906.

Located on the Osage Nation Reservation, townsite development was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The sale of residence and business lots began on August 11, 1909. The town incorporated as Osage City on February 23, 1911. At that time the community had approximately six hundred citizens and a chamber of commerce, a twelve-room school building was nearing completion, and a gas engine works and a wire fence factory were under construction. The Osage City Herald and the Osage City News were early newspapers.

The population of Osage peaked at 757 in 1920 and dropped to 627 in 1930. The railroad and a cotton gin were major employers during the early 1930s, and cotton, cottonseed, and cattle were the town's principal agricultural commodities. The petroleum industry also provided jobs and local revenue. The Barnsdall Oil Company had discovered the Osage City Field in 1904. The Osage City and East Osage City oil fields remained productive into the twenty-first century.

Osage had a population of 628 in 1940. That number decreased from 425 in 1950 to 170 in 1970. After increasing to 243 in 1980, the number of residents fell to 163 in 1990. In 2000 Osage had 188 inhabitants and three business establishments, including a limited service restaurant and a sign manufacturer. A part of Osage was abandoned during construction of Keystone Lake in 1956-64, and local rail service was terminated during the 1960s and the 1970s.


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

Jon D. May

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